More and more athletes are using their voices to speak up for the voiceless. This past month, the image-conscious state of Israel had been necessarily embarrassed and called out by 6 NFL players. Israel invited 11 NFL players on an all-expenses paid trip for public relation purposes stating that after the visit, they will be proclaimed “goodwill ambassadors of Israel.” The first to decline the invitation was defensive lineman of the Seattle Seahawks, Michael Bennett.
Bennett posted to Twitter his stance on the invitation. He claimed that he does not want to be “used” by the Israeli government just for a good front. The tweet also shows his support for Palestine, he suggests that he will travel to Israel when he wants to, and when he does, he intends to make stops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Bennett also states that “one of his heroes has always been Mohammed Ali” and that Ali was a strong supporter of the Palestinian people, Bennett wants to follow in Ali’s footsteps and be a “voice for the voiceless”.
“I will not be used in such a manner. When I do go to Israel – and I do plan to go – it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives… I want to be a voice for the voiceless, and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.” -Defense Lineman, Seattle Seahawks, Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett was allegedly called out for being “anti-semitic” after posting his commentary on Twitter, but in an interview with Democracy Now!, Bennett clearly expresses that he is definitely not against the Jewish population, (or any persons at all), but that he simply opposes Israeli policies and actions, and being an ambassador for them would go against his morals.
Bennett also expressed that upon research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has found so many similarities between it with the Black Lives Matter movement. The oppression and struggles that the Palestinians have faced, and still are enduring, because of the Israeli government, are relatively on the same level as to the cases of Eric Garner, matters in Ferguson and Baltimore, and countless innocent others. Upon this discovery, it opened his eyes even further, as far as to turn down a considered honorable invitation by the Israeli government themselves.
The Israeli government has yet to comment on this matter.
As a Palestinian myself, I am very proud of Michael Bennett for using his voice to speak up upon an issue that has been very absent in the world of media. Just like Bennett, from Ferguson to Palestine, I will always stand and side with the oppressed.