Oday Aboushi has been touted as being the first Palestinian-American player in the National Football League (NFL), but his radical behavior since being drafted by the New York Jets less than three months ago could get him sent home early. His latest infraction was made as he 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.
When the New York Jets chose Offensive Lineman Oday Aboushi in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft, they did so because of Aboushi’s athletic skills. It seems, though, that his personal life was not a consideration, at least not enough to stop the team from picking him. Problems in the NFL usually revolve around drugs or alcohol abuse or players being bad influences in the locker rooms. Aboushi’s problem is an unusual one for pro sports. He’s a Muslim extremist.
In January, Aboushi posted a photo to his personal Twitter page depicting an old woman looking down while three clearly Orthodox Jews converse with one another in the background. The photo, which is attributed to the anti-Israel publication Middle East Monitor (MEM), was part of a large-scale smear campaign against the Jewish state. The caption over Aboushi’s tweet reads, “88 year-old Palestinian evicted from home in Jerusalem by Israel authorities to make room 4 Orthodox Jews.”
Aboushi might have gotten the idea to post the propaganda from his relative, Fatina Abuzahrieh, who also grew up in and resides in New York City. In November of last year, Abuzahrieh posted on her Facebook page a shockingly anti-Semitic cartoon portraying an evil looking Orthodox Jew with a huge smile on his face, wearing an Israeli flag across his chest, and an old Palestinian woman looking down, crying, claiming to be “thrown out” of her “own home.”
From there, Aboushi’s conduct has continued to get more extreme.
On April 19th, just one week prior to the draft, Aboushi praised a conference sponsored by Islamic Relief (IR), a charity that the Israeli government has labeled a front for Hamas and that has been cited for both receiving and giving huge sums of money to al-Qaeda related groups.
Only weeks after the draft, Aboushi tweeted the following: “65th anniversary of the Nakba and palestinians all across the world are still thriving.” For persons unaware of the term “Nakba,” the statement might seem innocuous, but for those who care about Israel, the term is a very dangerous and provocative one. The Nakba or Catastrophe is a derogatory reference to Israel’s May 1948 founding as an independent Jewish state. It is used to spread enmity against Israel and to fuel terrorist attacks from groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Lest anyone believe this was an honest misunderstanding on Aboushi’s part, Aboushi solidified his extreme anti-Israelism late last month when he was a featured speaker at a conference run by an organization which denies Israel’s existence and associates with those involved in violence against her citizens.
According to the group sponsoring the event, “El-Bireh Palestine Society was founded to perpetuate the strong ties among its members and to link their communities around the world together and with their ancestral roots in El-Bireh, Palestine.” One of the ways the group accomplishes this is by holding annual conferences.
Speaking at the Society’s August 1986 Fifth National Convention held in Dearborn, Michigan was Fouad Rafeedie. Two years later, the INS charged Rafeedie with being a high-ranking member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group. The PFLP is currently named as such on the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Also speaking was Osama Siblani, the publisher of Arab American News (Sada al-Watan) and a public supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas.
The three-day El-Bireh Convention 2013 ("Connect 2013") began this past June 28thin Arlington, Virginia. Featured as a speaker at the event was Oday Aboushi. Also participating in the conference was Nitham Hasan, the President of the Islamic Center of South Florida (ICOSF). ICOSF’s mosque property is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a group named by the U.S. Justice Department as being a party to the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas.
El-Bireh Palestine Society’s logo, found atop the organization’s website, contains a graphic of the entire nation of Israel covered in a Palestinian flag – a patent denial of Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist. Like Aboushi’s Nakba, images such as this fuel terrorism and hate abroad and potentially here at home as well. Worse still, the Facebook page for the conference – which is administered by the same individual who created the Society’s website, Ashraf Abed – is accompanied by horrifically anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and terrorist propaganda.
On the same El-Bireh Facebook site as the conference, there are contained different images of Hitler and rabid anti-Christian cleric Ahmed Deedat, who authored the infamous work CRUCIFIXION OR CRUCI-FICTION? There are terrorist memorials for Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin and Hamas bomb maker Yahya Ayyash. About Arafat and Yassin, the site states in Arabic, “The martyr leader Yasser Arafat with the Mujahid Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. G-d have mercy on them.”
As well, there are a number of pictures of the imprisoned head of the PFLP, Ahmad Saadat, and a photo glorifying members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in the process of launching rockets into Israel. There is also a photo of Oday Aboushi’s friend, Linda Sarsour, the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY), and a picture of four individuals stomping on an American flag, which they pulled down from atop a sign.
Following the conference, Aboushi tweeted, “Al bireh convention was a pleasure. Proud Palestinians is always a good sight.”
It is okay to be proud of one’s heritage. Few, if any, would disagree. But what is not okay is when the heritage that you are praising instills hatred and violence in its followers and threatens and brings terror to the lives of others. It is apparent that that is exactly what the organization Oday Aboushi spoke in front of believes.
What will the Jets do?
In a previous article, this author detailed the extremist ties and behavior of football player Oday Aboushi, which resulted in Aboushi removing material from his Facebook site. Yet, to this day, the New York Jets have ignored the actions of their Islamist draft pick, only to see his behavior get worse. So far, the team has appeared to put Aboushi’s athletic ability over his ties to Muslim fanaticism. This author, however, believes that the Jets have much more to worry about than whether or not Aboushi can create holes in the opposing team’s defense or if he can provide protection for the quarterback.
Given the actions he continues to engage in and the dangerous persons and groups he chooses to surround himself with, the Jets must change the game plan they originally had when they took Oday Aboushi in the 2013 NFL Draft and release this player. In the end, those individuals Aboushi truly wishes to protect may very well be the ones we have to worry about the most.
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Beila Rabinowitz, director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.