The New York Jets franchise is a magnet for controversy. Usually, i's a result of the attention they court for themselves. That's not always the case. Jets offensive lineman Oday Aboushi is a fifth round pick with not much of a national profile. However, he's recently become the target of baseless claims from bigots who accuse him of being a terrorist sympathizer at best and a Muslim extremist at worst. The answer is that he's neither.
After Aboushi spoke at a conference allegedly organized by the El-Bireh Society, a story on FrontPageMag.com described it as a radical Muslim conference sponsored by Anti-Semitic groups hoping to deny Israel's right to exist. The piece has since been deleted, but after an MLB.com employee compared him to Aaron Hernandez, Aboushi still felt compelled to respond.
In the statement Friday, Aboushi again expressed pride in his culture, as well as in being born and raised in the United States and having a chance to play in the NFL.
''As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,'' he said, ''I hope that both sides make peace and live in prosperity.''
The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement in Aboushi's defense, saying ''there's a lot of exaggeration and hyperbole in all the talk about'' the player.
''Absolutely nothing in the public record suggests Aboushi is anything other than a young American athlete who takes pride in his Palestinian heritage,'' ADL director Abraham H. Foxman said. ''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.''
Foxman added that 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.''