Eleven active NFL players were supposed to visit Israel this week in a trip organized by the Israeli government in what was effectively a PR push to have these players experience and represent the country in a “balanced” fashion. But a whole slew of them backed out of the trip, namely Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett who said he felt “used” by the intention of the trip. He made this announcement by tweeting a picture of MLK Jr. and Black Panther leader Stokley Carmichael, with the words “I’m not going to Israel.” Then he explained why:
I was not aware that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an “influencer and opinion-former” who would then be “an ambassador of goodwill. 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.
Still, five players—the Cardinals’ Calais Campbell, the Raiders’ Dan Williams, the Saints’s Cameron Jordan, the Titans’ Delanie Walker, and the Eagles’ Mychal Kendricks—went to Israel, and they are there all week into Shabbat. They’ve taken a cruise on the Sea of Galilee and visited nearby Capernaum, visiting an ancient synagogue there.
Previous: NFLers Heading to Israel