Seattle Seahawks' Michael Bennett (AP/Ted S. Warren) (AP/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Seahawks' Michael Bennett

Three NFL stars have cancelled their trip to Israel, instead siding with the Palestinians. 

Three of the NFL (American National Football League) stars who were scheduled to arrive in the Holy Land this week for a seven-day visit have cancelled their visit and instead stated support for the Palestinians.

The first to cancel was Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks, who tweeted on of Friday, “I’m not going to Israel” together with a photo of Stokely Carmichael and Martin Luther King Jr.

On Saturday, he posted a letter addressed to “Dear World,” explaining his decision.

“I was excited to see this remarkable and historic part of the world with my own eyes. I was not aware until reading this article about the trip in the Times of Israel that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an ‘influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be ‘an ambassador of good will.’ “I will not be used in such a manner,” Bennett wrote.

“When I go to Israel — and I do plan to go — it will be to see not only Israel, but also the West Bank and Gaza, so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.”

Bennett does not have his facts straight. Indeed, it is the Jewish nation that has a history of thousands of years in the Land of Israel – a fact supported by historical and archaeological evidence.

Bennett added that one of his heroes was Muhammad Ali, who “always stood strongly with the Palestinian people,” saying that he, too, wants to be a “voice for the voiceless.”

“I cannot do that by going on this kind of a trip to Israel,” he said.

Kenny Stills of the Miami Dolphins retweeted Bennett’s letter, saying, “Couldn’t have said it any better. I’m in!”

Bennett’s brother Martellus, who was part of the New England Patriots team that won the Super Bowl last week, also joined the boycott.

A Balanced Picture of Israel

At the initiative of the Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry, the remaining group of eight players will meet with a wide range of Israelis from different walks of life.

The group will visit all the tourism hot spots, including Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv and Haifa, as well as Christian sites in the Galilee, such as the Jordan River’s Yardenit Baptismal site in the Galilee.

“I see great importance in the arrival of this delegation of NFL stars to Israel. I have no doubt that their visit will be a powerful experience for them and I hope that, through their visit, they will get a balanced picture of Israel, the opposite from the false incitement campaign that is being waged against Israel around the world,” said Minister for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan, who is entrusted with combating the anti-Israel organizations that instigate boycotts against the Jewish state.

“I hope that the players will present the beautiful face of Israel to their tens of millions of fans in the United States. The ministry which I lead is spearheading an intensive fight against the delegitimization and BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) campaigns against Israel, and part of this struggle includes hosting influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in different fields, including sport,” he stated.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel