Jets Lineman: I'm Proud to Be a Palestinian-American
On Friday, New York Jets rookie offensive lineman Oday Aboushi said he was "proud to be a Palestinian-American" and that it was "upsetting" to see people "try and tarnish my reputation without evening knowing me."
Aboushi made his comments after a FrontPage Mag article documented Aboushi's associations with extremist anti-Israel groups that have denied Israel's right to exist and past postings on social media sites in which he praised those organizations.
“I’m proud to be born and raised in the United States, proud to be a Palestinian-American and as a native New Yorker, I’m especially proud to have been drafted by the Jets and have the chance to represent this great organization and the NFL,” Aboushi told Pro Football Talk. “It is upsetting to see people try and tarnish my reputation without even knowing me, but I appreciate all the support I have been getting from people of all backgrounds across the city and the country. As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I hope that both sides make peace and live in prosperity.”
The Jets also released a statement say they strongly believed in "diversity" and encouraged players to "use good judgement" in exercising their First Amendment rights:
“The New York Jets strongly believe in diversity, inclusion and tolerance of others. We also encourage all of our employees to use good judgment when exercising their rights to freedom of expression and speech to be certain that they are constructive and respectful."
The Anti-Defamation League also released a statement claiming there was "absolutely nothing in the public record suggests that Aboushi is anything other than a young American athlete who takes pride in his Palestinian heritage." The group said reports that Oboushi is affiliated with anti-Israel organizations may be "exaggerated."
"Being pro-Palestinian does not mean you’re an anti-Semite or an extremist. The record simply does not show that Aboushi has crossed that line," the ADL said.
The Jets drafted Oboushi in the fifth round of the 2013 draft and he may make the team as a backup offensive lineman. The team released Tim Tebow in part because they did not want to deal with Tebow's "rabid" fans that were drawn to him because of his Evangelical faith.