Oday Aboushi and his family. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
A stunning tweet just came across the wires from Major League Baseball’s recently hired “new media coordinator” Jonathan Mael. It reads, “The @nyjets are a disgrace of an organization. The Patriots have Aaron Hernandez, the Jets have Oday Aboushi.” (Mael has since deleted his account, making him a rather ineffectual “new media coordinator”.)
Aaron Hernandez is, of course, the former star tight end now on trial for premeditated murder. So who is Oday Aboushi? He’s a Brooklyn-born fifth-round rookie lineman from the University of Virginia. His crime, in the eyes of Mael, is being of Palestinian heritage as well as having the temerity to discuss what a life of dispossession this has meant to him and his extended family.
This ugly line of thought exists on a plane beyond tweets. In a stunningly unprincipled piece on Yahoo! Sports, a writer named Adam Waksman wrote this week that Aboushi was involved in “anti-Semitic activism” and asked whether he should be drummed out of the league. Waksman compared Aboushi with those who traffic in “anti-gay, anti-black, anti-immigrant, sexist [speech]” and asks, “Does the NFL want its image associated with prejudice, violence or fundamentalism on any level?”
Aboushi is not quoted once in this entire piece. He is just Waksman’s silent, hulking brown mannequin. Instead, the main source Waksman draws upon for proof of his “anti-Semitic activism” is Front Page Magazine. For the uninitiated, this is the creation of David Horowitz, the hard-right-wing minstrel best known for taking out ads in college newspapers arguing that people of African descent should thank Europeans for slavery. Front Page—which bills itself as “fighting the war at home and abroad”—is a one-stop shop for anyone seeking articles cheering on George Zimmerman or catching up on the most frightening anti-Arab rhetoric in Israeli politics. Quoting it for source material on Palestinian activism is like choosing to learn about the environmental rights movement by reading an Exxon/Mobil newsletter.
Front Page says that Aboushi’s “crime” was speaking at the annual convention of the El-Bireh Palestine Society. Waksman quotes Front Page as describing their convention as “a conference run by an organization which denies Israel’s existence and associates with those involved in violence against her citizens.” Waksman cites Front Page as a legitimate authority on El-Bireh even though he concedes deeper in the article that they “should not be viewed as an entirely objective source of information”, writing, “In the end, nothing in the…piece is sufficient proof of much except for activism of a general sort.”