Oday Aboushi is a rookie offensive lineman for the Jets, and he’s also a Palestinian-American. His Palestinian heritage has been well known to everyone who knew who he was, but it suddenly became a controversial topic this week when several articles, blog posts and social media messages began to suggest that statements Aboushi has made paint him as an anti-Semitic enemy of Israel.
Aboushi and the Jets may have been leery of wading into such a thorny matter, but on Friday they decided that it was time for Aboushi to defend himself. And so, in response to a request from PFT earlier in the week, the team passed along statements that clarify who Aboushi is and why the Jets support him.
“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. “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 from the team that said nothing at all about agreeing or disagreeing with the content of any public comments Aboushi has made, but affirming that they believe in diversity and free speech.
“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 statement said.
The Anti-Defamation League also released a statement from National Director Abraham Foxman defending Aboushi.
“Absolutely nothing in the public record suggests that Aboushi is anything other than a young American athlete who takes pride in his Palestinian heritage,” Foxman said. “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.”