Simon Wiesenthal Center Statement on Decision by Four NFL Players to Drop out of Israel Trip

February 11, 2017

“It is very unfortunate that Michael Bennett and three other NFL players have canceled their scheduled trip to Israel with other NFL players. Engagement, not boycotts are what help forge real peace,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper Associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish Human Rights organization.

“The trip they would have taken, would have introduced them to the only democratic society in the Middle East; the only Middle East country where the number of Christians is increasing. And they would have met many young Israeli Arabs who comprise nearly one fifth of the Jewish State’s population. They have equal rights with their Jewish neighbors. Rather than being worried about “being used” by Israeli officials, their presence -as sports stars—would have served to inspire young Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike to aspire for greatness.

“As for visiting the West Bank—they could have gone on this trip and should still go and visit with both young Palestinian Arabs and their young Jewish neighbors who live there. What they will discover is that there is plenty of room for both peoples—for anyone who truly wants peace.

“Mr. Bennett and his colleagues should also want to look at recent headlines. This past Thursday alone there were two terrorist attacks targeting the Holy Land—rockets from ISIS in the South and a shooting and stabbing spree targeting Jewish shoppers in the heartland of Israel: the culprit? A 19 year-old Palestinian man whose role models aren’t football players but terrorists,” Rabbi Cooper concluded.

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).