JERUSALEM â?? It was supposed to be a feel-good visit by a group of professional football players to give a boost to image-conscious Israel.
But in an embarrassing fumble by the Israeli government, only five of 11 NFL players in the delegation showed up after being blitzed by Palestinian activists opposed to the visit.
Israel’s ministry for strategic affairs and public diplomacy issued a press release after the Super Bowl boasting that the visit would bring “influencers” who would serve as “goodwill ambassadors” when they returned home.
The announcement led Seattle Seahawks defense lineman Michael Bennett to pull out. In a lengthy Twitter post, he accused the government of trying to use him for PR purposes and cited sympathy for the Palestinians.
“I will not be used in such a manner,” he wrote, adding that he still intends to visit Israel, but only on a trip that includes stops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to meet Palestinians.
Citing the example of Muhammad Ali, and the late boxing legend’s support for the Palestinians, Bennett said he too wants to be a “voice for the voiceless.”
“I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip …
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