Two more NFL players pull out of Israel trip

Two more NFL players join Seahawks' Michael Bennett, cancel participation in trip to Israel.

Ben Ariel ,

Football (illustration)
Football (illustration)

At least two more National Football League (NFL) players, including a member of the Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, have pulled out of a goodwill trip to Israel, JTA reported Monday.

Martellus Bennett, a tight end for the Patriots, reportedly pulled out of the trip over the weekend. He joined his brother Michael, a Seattle Seahawks defensive end, who announced on Saturday he would not join the trip because he objects to being co-opted as a “goodwill ambassador”.

Martellus Bennett did not offer his own reasons for not taking the trip to Israel, choosing instead to retweet his brother's letter.

Justin Forsett of the Denver Broncos also retweeted Bennett’s letter with a post saying, “For those who are wondering I will not be on this trip to Israel.”

He later tweeted that he and his wife had decided weeks ago not to go on the trip because she is now eight months pregnant.

Asked on the @SheenaCNN Twitter page whether he would still be going on the trip if his wife was not pregnant, Forsett replied, according to JTA, "Im really uninformed on the issues over there right now I'm doing my best now to get up to speed then I can make an informed dec (decision)."

Israel’s Tourism and Public Diplomacy ministries announced the trip on February 5. The NFL delegation was to feature 12 current or former players.

The players presumably still in the delegation are Cliff Avril, Delanie Walker, Michael Kendricks, Cameron Jordan, Calais Campbell, Carlos Hyde, Dan Williams, and ESPN commentator and former linebacker Kirk Morrison.

The trip includes a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and a meeting the Black Hebrew community in the southern city of Dimona.

Last week, a group of activists recently wrote an open letter urging the players to “consider the political ramifications of a propaganda trip organized by the Israeli government”.

The letter said the visit “aims to prevent players from seeing the experience of Palestinians living under military occupation”.

Activists from the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement have in recent years tried to dissuade celebrities from visiting Israel.

The phenomenon is very common with musicians who are pressured to cancel their shows in Israel.

Many of the calls to boycott Israel have come from Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd star who is notorious for his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rants and who has repeatedly condemned his colleagues who associate with Israel.

In November, Waters wrote an open letter to electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers, urging them to cancel a concert in Israel.