Oday Aboushi at the El Bireh Convention 2013
Thankfully, the backlash against the racist hit job on Oday Aboushi has gone viral, it’s all over sports media. (ESPN (over 5000 comments), SportingNews.com, Jerusalem Post, FanSided, the Jets blog Gang Green Nation, Sports Media 101 , NBCSports.) For me, and I imagine for many Americans, the most amazing part of this fiasco is reading the overwhelming support for Aboushi in the mainstream media comments sections, and the strong stance of the Jets organization.
It feels like a valve has been released and a space has been created for regular people (like sports fans!) who might not usually engage in political discussions or more specifically discussions about Israel/Palestine, to speak their mind about the slandering.
It’s fairly obvious what’s going on here. Frontpage Mag published the article in May, looking to drum up some pageviews and controversy. After not getting the response they were looking for, they followed up with a second article and continued to bash Oday Aboushi. The attempts to piece together a smear campaign have failed, judging by the comments and the media coverage of the post by Frontpage Mag.
While the Abe Foxman/Anti-Defamation League denunciation was cited in all the mainstream media reports, unfortunately the response from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), also issued Friday, calling on “both Yahoo! Sports and MLB to immediately terminate [major league baseball employee] Jonathan Mael and Adam Waksman and issue an official apology to the Arab American community,” is yet to flood the mainstream press, though it was picked up by Ma’an News.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) sent two letters today in response to the slanderous attacks on Oday Aboushi of the New York Jets by Yahoo! Sports and the MLB.
The Yahoo! Sports article entitled “Could Oday Aboushi Jeopardize His NFL Career with Anti-Israel Activism,” was written Adam Waksman. The article is biased and derives its information from an extremely anti-Arab anti-Muslim source: FrontPage Magazine. It goes beyond attacking only Oday Aboushi; it is an attack on the entire Arab and Muslim American community.
Additionally, newly appointed media coordinator of the MLB Jonathan Mael tweeted from his official account that “The @nyjets are a disgrace of an organization. The Patriots have Aaron Hernandez, the Jets have Oday Aboushi.” ADC pointed out in the letter that it is inappropriate to compare Oday Aboushi to an accused murderer.
Although the tweet and the article have since been removed, the damage that they caused has not been undone. ADC called on both Yahoo! Sports and MLB to immediately terminate Jonathan Mael and Adam Waksman and issue an official apology to the Arab American community.
ADC remains committed to our mission of protecting civil rights, promoting mutual understanding, and preserving the Arab American cultural heritage.
We should be asking ourselves why an anti discrimination group led by a fervent Israel lobbyist is picked up by the MSM and the New York Jets, while the ADC, representing a group of Americans of whom Aboushi is a proud member, is ignored.
This takes us to a very uncomfortable place. It’s a place we usually try to avoid visiting, but I do not think this story is going away so I feel it is necessary we go here. In the eyes of some, the charges made against Aboushi were viewed as more credible than they should have been due to the fact he is a Palestinian-American. The same charges made against a white man such as myself would not carry the same resonance or suspicion to many. I do not think this is debatable.
Over the past few days, I have been scanning sites, sports, news, and political regarding this story. As I expected, I saw many people defend Aboushi. As I expected, I also saw some truly vile and disgusting comments about him. There was, however, one similar comment I saw a few different times that jumped off the page to me. I saw multiple commenters say they were worried about something like this when the Jets drafted Aboushi.
These comments left me deeply troubled. What information would anybody have had on Draft day to be worried about Aboushi outside of the fact he is a Palestinian-American? This is where I think we all need to be vigilant. We all know about the ugly bigots who openly profess hatred of other groups. Those folks tend to be a vocal minority and easily marginalized.
There is one more press release I have not seen published elsewhere. It’s from a group of people also slandered by David Horowitz when he claimed Oday Aboushi “gave a speech at a radical Muslim conference sponsored by a group denying Israel’s right to exist and associated with blatantly anti-Semitic and terrorist propaganda.”
The following press release was issued by the Elbireh.org. the folks who organized the El Bireh Convention 2013.
Statement of Support and Thanks to Oday Aboushi: We wish to extend our full support and thanks to Oday Aboushi for his motivational and uplifting speech at our convention. Oday is the epitome of the American success story. He serves as an excellent role model and inspiration to our youth. We want to emphasize our support to Oday in the face of baseless attacks in fringe hate media that appeared after he addressed our convention. Our best wishes go out to Oday and his family, as we and many others stand with him against those who would perpetuate racism and bigotry. (Links to related material in the press: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4) -
PRESS RELEASE (pdf)
July 13, 2013
Arlington, VA-It had been almost 10 years since families who trace their ancestral roots to El Bireh, Palestine last came together in a social event that was once a regularly held convention. A small group of El Bireh descendents who live in the Washington, DC area was determined not to let a whole generation of children grow up without experiencing a taste of their ancestral culture, reuniting with loved ones, and hearing inspirational success stories of Palestinian Americans. In a few short months, they succeeded in organizing a convention, held June 28 30, 2013 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA.
The city of El Bireh is situated adjacent to Ramallah in the West Bank, where the two are often referred to as twin cities. For centuries the predominately Muslim El Bireh and mostly Christian Ramallah have lived side by side in harmony.
Some because of war, and others due to economic opportunity, immigrated to the United States over the past 100 years. As with many immigrant stories, parents struggled to provide for their children in an unfamiliar land, and cultural identity was difficult to maintain. Today, we can find generations of successful people who trace their heritage back to El Bireh, and the convention was meant to ensure that these stories and culture are passed down to enrich the lives of the young generation.
While the El Bireh Society U.S.A. has been inactive in many states in recent years, the Washington DC Chapter has remained active in organizing local social events, and came together to help facilitate this year’s national convention.
The convention featured inspirational stories from Palestinian American NFL football player Oday Aboushi, the first Palestinian to be nominated for an Oscar-Director Emad Burnat, and Arab American Congressman Nick Rahall. Not only were there crafts and games for the very young, but also great opportunities for young professionals to network and learn from experts in their respective fields such as medicine, law, real estate, and entrepreneurship.
With over 750 in attendance, the organizers are humbled by the success of the event and are glad that the event has rekindled an interest in the community for bringing back the tradition of holding regular conventions
We look forward to next year’s convention.