Less than three months after the New York Jets drafted Palestinian-American Oday Aboushi and before the football season has even kicked off, Aboushi has begun to face anti-Palestinian sentiment.
The racist assault, exposed first by The Electronic Intifada, is tied to Jonathan Mael, a new media coordinator for Major League Baseball’s official website. In a tweet Mael posted on July 10, he writes “The @nyjets are a disgrace of an organization. The Patriots have Aaron Hernandez, the Jets have Oday Aboushi”. Hernandez, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, is a current suspect in a murder case.
Also uncovered by The Electronic Intifada is Mael’s history with AIPAC, for which he served as a “Community Relations Intern”.
Although Mael later apologized in a two-part tweet (here and here), it is clear that Aboushi was on the receiving end of racism and bigotry that has no place in the sports arena or anywhere else, really. To be compared to a suspected murderer is outrageous, and to condemn an organization as being a “disgrace” for signing a Palestinian is disgusting at best.
The smear appears to be linked to an article published one day earlier on FrontPageMag, a website known for its anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian slander, that attempts to paint Aboushi as a Muslim extremist and an anti-Semite for participating as an activist for Palestinian rights. The smear campaign later spread to Yahoo! News although the article was deleted soon after. Dave Zirin at The Nation does a good job of breaking down the FrontPageMag and Yahoo! News articles.
Sixteen Minutes to Palestine reported earlier on Aboushi’s signing by the New York Jets. Support for Aboushi has been strong and clear from the start, and these disturbing anti-Palestinian smear campaigns will do nothing to lessen his support. Those behind the slander need to be held accountable.
Greg Howard at Deadspin wrote an amazingly straightforward article that calls many things into question, including how legitimate news sources will easily fail to question Islamophobic sources.