The Anti-Defamation League came out in defense of Palestinian-American New York Jets lineman Oday Aboushi on Friday following reports on the conservative website Frontpage Mag that he was "a Muslim extremist."
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Aboushi, who signed a four-year rookie contract with the National Football League's New York Jets in May, is the son of two Palestinian parents who immigrated to New York. Since the Jets drafted Aboushi, FrontPage Mag published two articles charging that he was "a fundamentalist Muslim with radical associations and a heritage that pushes him towards a destructive world of violence and hate."
On Friday, the ADL came to the defense of Aboushi saying that there was "absolutely nothing in the public record to suggest that Aboushi is anything other than a young American athlete who takes pride in his Palestinian heritage."
"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," read a statement issued by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
As evidence of Aboushi's supposed extremism FrontPage Mag cited the fact that members of Aboushi's family were friends of Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York,who according to the site is "a rabid anti-Israel activist, who has Hamas-related family serving prison sentences in Israel and has herself been questioned by U.S. authorities."
The website also cited a number of Tweets critical of Israel's policy regarding the Palestinians, which the website claimed had "anti-Semitic overtones." But according to the ADL these allegations against the athlete were unwarranted.
"My family's been just as shocked by the lies and smears as I've been," Aboushi responded to the allegations in a phone interview with the New York Post on Friday. "I don't think I'm radical at all. I have never done any radical behavior. For the writer to come out and claim that just builds lies on top of the lies."
"My feelings are very fair -- I wish both sides (in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) would come to a peaceful agreement and both live in peace," Aboushi said. "I want to see them live together in harmony and enjoy the land instead of focusing on conflict with each other."
Aboushi is one of only a few Palestinian-Americans to have played in the NFL. He joins former linebacker Tarek Saleh, former quarterback Gibran Hamdan, who is half Palestinian and half Pakistani, and former defensive lineman Nader Abdallah.