(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League defended a Palestinian-American football player over allegations that he is a “Muslim extremist.”
FrontPage Magazine used the term to describe Oday Aboushi, an offensive lineman who was drafted recently by the New York, in an article published last week on its website.
The story said Aboushi gave a speech in Virginia last month at a “radical Muslim conference sponsored by a group denying Israel’s right to exist and associated with blatantly anti-Semitic and terrorist propaganda.”
In a statement defending the player, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman wrote that his participation in a conference organized by the El-Bireh Society, a Palestinian community organization that until recently was defunct, should not be used to tar him as an extremist.
“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 wrote.
He added, “Allegations claiming that he is affiliated with other extreme groups are similarly unsubstantiated and appear to be exaggerated for the express purpose of smearing Aboushi.”
Aboushi, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, issued a statement on Friday through the Jets.
“It is upsetting to see people try and tarnish my reputation without even knowing me,” he said. “But I appreciate all the support I have been getting from people of all backgrounds across the city and country.
“As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I hope that both sides make peace and live in prosperity.”