Oday Aboushi, the Jets' fifth-round rookie tackle from Brooklyn and the University of Virginia, responded today to recent reports about articles and blog posts that made serious accusations.
"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 said in his statement, released by the team. "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."
Some of that support came from Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who issued his own statement.
"There's a lot of exaggeration and hyperbole in all the talk about Jets lineman Oday Aboushi," Foxman said. "Absolutely nothing in the public record suggests that Aboushi is anything other than a young American athlete who takes pride in his Palestinian heritage. His participation in a conference organized by the El-Bireh Society, a Palestinian community organization that was until recently defunct, should not be used to tar him as an extremist. Allegations claiming that he is affiliated with other extreme groups are similarly unsubstantiated and appear to be exaggerated for the express purpose of smearing Aboushi.
"There is nothing wrong with someone being proud of their ethnic or religious background, and this should be true regardless of one's chosen profession. Even if one disagrees with the agenda of the groups whose events he has attended, it is unfair and farfetched to cite those as evidence that he is an extremist.
"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 Jets also issued a statement today, which reads:
"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."