BY Art Thiel 10:56AM 02/11/2017

Bennett skips Israel NFL trip, seeks larger view

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett, saying he wants to be a “voice for the voiceless” a la Muhammad Ali, pulled out of a players’ trip to Israel once he understood the Israeli government’s agenda.

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett has withdrawn from a trip to Israel because he believed it would send the wrong message. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Saying he wants to be a “voice for the voiceless,” Seahawks DE Michael Bennett has pulled out of a trip for NFL players to Israel next week once he learned it had a government agenda to help make him “an ambassador of goodwill.”

In an open letter Friday night addressed to “Dear World,” on his social media accounts and distributed by the pro-Palestinian Institute for Middle East Understanding, Bennett waded into the world’s most intractable division by writing he will go to Israel on his own and see the West Bank and Gaza to understand better the long-standing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

“I was excited to see this remarkable and historic part of the world with my own eyes,” Bennett wrote. “I was not aware, until I read an article about the trip in the Times of Israel, 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.’

“When I do go to Israel — and I do plan to go — it will be to see not only Israel but also to  see 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.”

Bennett’s decision follows an open letter published Thursday in The Nation magazine urging the NFL delegation of 11 players to “rethink your participation” in the trip. The letter was signed by actors, musicians, authors and activists.

Bennett cited Muhammad Ali’s political activism on behalf of Palestinians as his inspiration.

“He stood strongly with the Palestinian people, visiting refugee camps, going to rallies and always willing to be a ‘voice for the voiceless,'” he wrote. “I want to be a voice for the voiceless, and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.”

“I know this will anger some people and inspire others. But please know that I did this not for you but to be in accord with my own values and conscience. Like 1968 Olympian John Carlos always says, ‘There is no partial commitment to justice. You’re either in or out.’ Well, I’m in.”

In a release accompanying Bennett’s message, IMEU spokesman Yazmin Hamidi said the trip was sponsored by Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, its Tourism Ministry, and America’s Voices in Israel, as part of a larger “Brand Israel” strategy to distract from the country’s ongoing denial of Palestinian rights.

In a statement announcing the trip, Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan said: “I see great importance in the arrival of this delegation of NFL stars to Israel. I have no doubt that their visit will be a powerful experience for them and I hope that, through their visit, they will get a balanced picture of Israel.”

Bennett’s brother, Martellus, a tight end who just won a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots, will also boycott the trip, as will Dolphins WR Kenny Stills. Seahawks DE Cliff Avril and former Seahawks RB Justin Forsett are among the invitees on the trip. Forsett said Saturday he was withdrawing.

Martellus Bennett and several other Pats teammates have said they plan to boycott the now-traditional visit by sports champions to the White House, citing the policies of President Trump.



  • wabubba67

    Good for you, MB! Time to fully examine an issue before being used by either side is commendable.

    • art thiel

      He’ll come back with a splendid notion of what a tie game really looks like.

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    • Nessie

      He isn’t examining the issue. in fact, he is refusing to even learn and instead accepting propaganda as a means to stunt his education and reject a trip in which expectations but not strings were attached to it. Examining the issue would require inquiry into all sides and angles. Bennett is as far from that as any jihadist apologist can be.

      • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

        Lame and condescending. Michael already clearly stated he was going to Israel on his own terms; he didn’t want to be beholden to any government. You willfully overlooked that part as your ideology determines that you must attack a person’s character first. That’s the Fox news way.

        • Nessie

          Actually, I get a lot of my information from journalists such as Khaled abu Toameh, an Arab Israeli Zionist, or Uzay Bulut, a pro-Israel Turk born Muslim. These people understand the ideology that their brethren are inundated with better than most. These are the brilliant people who share my ideology, even if not my religion nor ethnicity. I barely watch Fox news. I’m guessing you watch it a lot less than I do but have formed the opinion about it that others have concluded on your behalf. I’d rather be lame and condescending than willfully foolish, like Bennett and his minion followers. I recommend the aforementioned journalists and others maybe starting with, “The Historic Betrayal of the Palestinians”, by Bassam Tawil. He is Palestinian.

          • bugzapper

            You remind me of my Uncle Jack. Even the pro-Israel members of the family think he’s nuts.

          • Nessie

            Oh. What did I write that you disagree with or think is “nuts?” Or do you have criticism regarding the esteemed journalist I mention? Or, OR – are you “Uncle Jack?” That would explain a lot.

          • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

            I got plenty of Fox News in my earlier years. I’m well informed on that garbage. The situation in Palestine is far more complicated than any ideology or religion will have you believe. I won’t argue with your reading credentials as clearly you’ve done some research. That said, I would imagine based on my own experience the the prism through which you view the situation is through a cultural or religious ideology. I think all organized religion, including Islam has been left in the dust. People love to talk about what they know and believe, but how many people are willing to suspend their beliefs, especially learned people who pride themselves on reading lots of books, and approach another human being or culture in the spirit of genuine humility independent of religious or governmental agendas? It seems that Michael Bennet does, and for that I commend him. You on the other hand don’t seem to have anything to learn about the situation. You know it all. Give yourself a pat on the back.

          • Nessie

            Actually, one of my dear friends is a Muslim Zionist with a dangerous career as he is one of the journalists I referenced but didn’t name, a colleague of those I did mention. When I first met him and other Muslims who were good and kind and who became my friend, I researched Islam a bit more in depth to see the good it must have. What I further learned is that it is in spite of the teachings of the Quran and Hadiths that so many Muslims are good people, for the teachings of those documents leads to supremacy and abuse. My journalist friend, who criticizes his religion but doesn’t reject it – confirmed my observation as accurate. He has since been fired from the paper in his own land, not for being inaccurate, but for writings that support Israel – accurately. Fortunately he has other outlets.

            As a non- Muslim, you are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount, where Jesus has prayed (I saw you mentioned being Catholic). The Islamic Waqf forbids non-Muslim prayer in this holiest of Jewish sites in Jerusalem. Israel abides as a good faith gesture to her Muslim neighbors. Nonetheless, the United Nations has voted to rename the areas critical to Jewish history. The Western Wall of the Temple is officially, through the UN, the Buraq Wall exclusively, the Temple Mount – Haram al Sharif, etc. They took and renamed Rachels tomb and the Tomb of the Jewish Patriarchs. Look at the Hagia Sophia in what was once in a land named after Constantine. As Islamic ideology has trampled on churches and synagogues and is ethnically cleansing the region – with Israel aimed at its greatest victory won’t ever have, you are self righteous in applauding a man who is a bigot against the Jewish people who have provided the safest country in the region to those of all faiths. Ironically, Bennett tweeted his “noble” gesture with a picture of Martin Luther King who was a friend to Israel and the Jewish people and called anti Zionism for what it is – anti Semitism.

            Bennet didn’t suspend his beliefs – he is a slave to his prejudice. He turned down an all expense paid trip to Israel with no strings attached simply because the purpose of the gift was a hope that those with suspended beliefs will see truth with clarity. He refuses. He can go to Gaza where many Palestinian children have been saved by the Israeli organization Save a Child’s Heart (SACH). He can also see the absence of children who died digging tunnels, shielding rockets or are outfitted practicing jihad. Look at what is in the Palestinian textbooks and tv for children – then come back to tell me that Bennett is fair with suspended beliefs. I do know a lot – I don’t deny it. It was through friendship, scholarship and listening and fact checking information that pleased me and displeased me. I challenge you and Bennet to do the same.

          • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

            First of all, my “Catholicism” to which you refer is more of a ball and chain than a religion I adhere to and my experience with it only confirms to what elaborate lengths the “scholarly” and “learned” will go to impose their will and ideology on those unequipped to defend themselves. All organized religion persecutes other religions. How could it be otherwise when each claims the unique position of being God’s chosen people? Personally, I distrust all organized religion. That said, I don’t judge people individually who adhere to various beliefs, as I find it all fascinating. It sounds like you’re the one who’s bigoted though. Michael Bennet never said he was avoiding going to Israel. He just didn’t want to go on the terms granted him. Big deal. Oh, and go Hawks!

          • Nessie

            And since we are corresponding again, I will point out that your statement here is wrong, “All organized religion persecutes other religions.” Though the Torah addresses a historical point in which Jews did fight others in the region for dominance of the land (a people who no longer exists), it is debated and questioned, vs the Quran demands a continual action to persecute people of other religions (while subjugating people of their own) and Christianity had the Inquisition and Crusades – persecuting the Jews with utmost cruelty while trying to stave off Islamist domination.

            The Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists have not and do not go around persecuting people of other religions to force a robotic destructive and unquestioned ideology. They do fight off people from other religions but for survival – not dominance.

            At least as Christians emulate Jesus – they do good. When Muslims emulate Muhammad – we get the Islamic State (the only difference is that the Islamic State records their horrors). Right now, the Islamic State is battling out with Hamas in Gaza, who is battling out with Fatah in the West Bank (after throwing members of Fatah off roofs in Gaza about 10 years ago when they took over). It would be prudent for Bennett to brush up on this stuff before vacationing in those places (no doubt he would be kept safe in those places and treated like a king – the Islamists, evidenced here, are stellar at propaganda).

          • art thiel

            You are asking a man to swallow a river when he asked for a glass of water.

          • Nessie

            Technically, he didn’t ask for anything – he was invited on a trip and turned it down for its antithesis.

            There is such a danger in misinformation and it is being used against people who think they are informed. The United Nations has been given global legitimacy yet has perpetuated the Arab Israeli conflict with little more than an acceptance of mistruths while having branches led by the worlds largest human rights violators (like Saudi Arabia was the head of a panel of the United Nations Human Rights Council).

            Victories of ill will people happen when they recruit the sympathy of visible people who have a lot of young fans.

            The Jews of the region have struggled for peace. From 1834 and the Arab looting of Safed through the Hebron Massacre that made Hebron Jew free for the first time in thousands of years, through the creation of the idea of a Palestinian people to the creation of their militant branch the PLO (in 1964, three years before Israel liberated Jerusalem from Jordan who conquered it and destroyed the synagogues).

            Happiness and peace for all people doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive – the problem is – the team that Bennett is (maybe unwittingly) batting for – doesn’t have happiness on its agenda.

          • Effzee
          • art thiel

            Happiness? Truth? You know what these things are to all people? Why aren’t you leading a government, or the UN?

          • art thiel

            You’re certainly well read on the subject. But why denigrate a person for his apprehension over possibly having his name exploited while he looks at the wider world?

          • Nessie

            I wish that everyone would be well read on this subject. Everyone who is knowledgeable about the Middle East has an agenda. Through his statements, Bennett is simply trading in a tour from people of one agenda to the other. I would challenge him to do both – see the region with a tour from a Zionists point of view and and Islamists point of view. They tend to clash and one could truly not promote the other’s agenda.

            What is frustrating is that many under-informed yet kind hearted, or ill intentioned people do forward the agenda of Islamist cruelty and expansionism and primarily it is at the expense of the population living under Islamic governments. It enables them to continue with cruelty. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are barbaric to their own people – abusing them with hate from a young age. The people who would give Bennett a tour in Gaza are the people who approve such state media as this, (if you would kindly google the video): “Hamas to kids: Shoot all the Jews.” (and others like it).

          • art thiel

            Why didn’t you suggest Bennett’s ecumenism at first, instead of adding to the screeching? You obviously have an agenda too.

          • Nessie

            I do not recognize and am unaware of Bennett’s “ecumenism” as you suggest.

            I don’t deny having an agenda. I prefaced one of my comments stating that just about anyone informed on the issues, even partially, especially partially, has an agenda.

            Regarding this particular topic, two peoples are struggling for the same strip of land – one for survival and progress, one for conquest and domination. I side with the former, the subject of the article seems to side with the latter. We are both entitled to our convictions.

            Though, how I would have loved to see the Palestinians succeed by taking advantage of the millions of dollars worth of Jewish started businesses left to them when Israel forced the Jewish residents out of Gaza in 2005 – also making Gaza Jew free for the first time in thousands of years. I would have applauded seeing Gaza develop into a Singapore as was the hopes of many. Instead, terrorists dismantled the businesses and stopped those who knew how to run them, from running them or sabotaged the access to export. The terrorists of Gaza used their sovereignty to subjugate their own people and to attack the people of Israel, encouraging a blockade on their own people, using and abusing their people. I happen to be against that and tend to judge a little bit in a negative way those who enable the abuse and try to peddle it as anything less – much less objectivity.

          • art thiel

            I’m sure an advocate of the Palestinian side can cite similar atrocities from their point of view. I tend to judge a little bit in a negative way those who enable the abuse and try to peddle it as anything less.

          • Nessie

            Israel tries and punishes soldiers who go rogue and abuse people – Hamas and the PA reward them – literally. When Jews bring harm to others – the Jewish community gets angry with the perpetrator. The Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of all Jews – it is an institutionalized belief and a goal indoctrinated into their children. When Islamists kill people, their families are paid off and streets and schools are named after them. No one is perfect, but the depth and quantity of evil is relevant.

            This is nothing short of child abuse (in addition to the goal of destroying an ethnic group).

            Find me the equivalent of this being taught to Israeli children and then we can talk about moral equivalences:


          • Steven

            Here you go. The Forward is a progressive Jewish publication, by the way:


            “Little kids throw mock grenades and pretend to shoot big guns; a boy crawls militant-style as gun-wielding adults cheer him on; a girl wearing a pink dress carries a rocket launcher twice her size.

            I can imagine that despair and hopelessness probably rattled the Jewish community. How could there ever be peace when kids are trained to aspire toward violence and militancy?

            At my old Jewish day school, there was probably a lot of chatter about how this was further proof that only military force could work to quell violence. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) was probably all over the story. Palestinian Media Watch, too. [Isn’t this the source you referenced in the video above?]

            But instead, when I turned on my computer this morning, I couldn’t find a thing on any of the sites that track hate in the Middle East. None of my newsy friends even dedicated a Facebook status. No one seemed to really care. And for one reason: the people in question weren’t Palestinians, but right-wing Jewish settlers.”


            You claim that Israel tries and punishes soldiers who “go rogue”. There’s a soldier in Israel right now who “went rogue” (except, not really) and who is now considered a hero.

            Who’s got the agenda here? Michael Bennett just doesn’t want to be used for propaganda and yet you are unloading all kinds of propaganda here and questioning his integrity and his intelligence at the same time. I’ve tried to keep my comments here on topic, but when one person can spend so much time complaining that Israel is not getting a fair shake while you go way out of your way to continue to belittle and dehumanize an entire people, I had to say something.

            Tian Biao’s response to you below is correct. You need to broaden your perspective.

          • Steven


            “I picture a dead Arab and that makes me happy”

            Would you consider this child abuse? Or do they get a pass because they happen to be on the correct team?

            Now, I know that most Israelis aren’t like this. I also know that most Palestinians aren’t like this. This, and the video you posted, are trashy propaganda. I know this. But do you?

          • Nessie

            There is a huge difference between daily propaganda in which children are taught and encouraged daily to look at all Jews as an enemy to be killed (like in the video I posted), and a taping of a field trip to a war memorial (you posted) where some kids say unsavory and even objectionable things while others say they don’t want war or they fear being chased by Arabs – but you didn’t seem to notice that.

            Because of the attacks that Jews, especially in that region, have had to face from those indoctrinated to kill them – it is only prudent they visit a museum to become familiar with the unsavory tools of war. A big difference from being told to kill everyone of an ethnic group.

            Again – if you find this to be a moral equivalence to the daily indoctrination to kill Jews by the Islamists who control Gaza and The Palestinian Authority – well, then you do. And that explains a lot and you haven’t changed a bit from when you trolled JPost.

          • Mike

            Amazing. This article is about a man who wants to avoid propaganda and you insist on countering with propaganda. Instead of taking his example and stepping back to take a broad perspective, you do the opposite. And for someone who has made north of 12,000 comments, you’ve got a lot of nerve calling someone who sparsely engages in these things a troll.

            I can’t say I’m surprised to have spotted you here.

          • Steven

            In my other comment to you I said, “but when one person can spend so much time complaining that Israel is not getting a fair shake while you go way out of your way to continue to belittle and dehumanize an entire people, I had to say something”.

            I don’t know if you read it or not as you haven’t responded to it yet. Maybe you just don’t have a good answer. But you seem to be continuing down this path of complaining that Israel is not getting a fair shake while you dehumanize an entire people.

            “It is only prudent they visit a museum to become familiar with the unsavory tools of war.”

            This was definitely not the tone of the event or the video. Are you really defending and advocating this, and in the same breath condemning Palestinians? That is incredibly hypocritical. This is exactly why Michael Bennett made the decision that he made. With each comment you are only proving him to be correct.

          • Nessie

            You are the same narrow minded troll who spoke nonsense on JPost – much like Mike who followed me here (he is blocked from me – but as the only troll I have blocked, I know the “blocked user” is him).

            I dehumanize no one. I also do not see a moral equivalence between a government poisoning their children with bombardments of daily hatred against a people and a video of children exploring a war memorial. You do. I fight for the people who are aiming to survive and progress and you puke distortions to justify the oppression of people trapped in the ideology they’ve been conquered into who are raised/groomed to kill. You see the similarity between kids reluctantly understanding they need to fight to protect their people, and children proudly willing to spill their own blood to destroy a people.

            I saw your previous post and succinctly responded to one as you wrote around the same time.

            You and your Israel hatred is what has reached Bennett. Congratulations – you enable the subjugation of a people so as long as they aim to destroy a country you despise. You are despicable and frankly I have no reason to respond to more of your posts.

            You do have a friend in the troll who followed me here – it is like you share the same brain.

          • Steven

            It seems we both have reason not to continue this conversation. Whereas you seem to think that taking a broad perspective and allowing for the humanity of both sides to be seen is somehow ‘puking distortions’, I would say that your version of events would much better warrant that description. I’ve expressed no hatred for Israel. Yet you continually double down on your dehumanization of ‘the other’. You used the word ‘indoctrination’ in another post. I think I can see its effects.

          • Nessie

            No – indoctrination is certainly not the result of children saying that they want to shoot all Jews, clap at hearing that, refuse coexistence believing that Jews are occupiers of Jerusalem and the land must be liberated at any cost, be willing to die in order to kill a Jew, say Jews are descendants of monkeys and pigs. No – no indoctrination at all. You got me.

            Reality check – to suggest that rhetoric from 10 year olds a natural evolution of children would actually be suggesting that they are subhuman. That is what you seem to be saying. To such suggest that they are being indoctrinated into a culture of hate – is observant and puts blame on the toxic adults poisoning them – blame on a horrid ideology wreaking havoc all over the world – not DNA.

            Wow – so you believe the children are natural killers and I believe they’ve been conditioned and you accuse me of “dehumanizing.”

            I wish those kids could be free from the toxin forced into their young minds – stunting their otherwise wonderful possibilities. And you justify the abuse as being just like anything else.

            Seriously – talk to Mike – you’d be like in a happy echo chamber and you will get lots of under informed people to buy into your garbage. Clearly they do. And those 10 year old Palestinian children pay the price for your “tolerance.”

          • Steven

            “I have no reason to respond to more of your posts.” Ok then.

            I was referring to you when I mentioned indoctrination. As you describe, it is a sort of conditioning of the mind to think and see the world a certain way. You clearly have been conditioned to think of Palestinians as subhuman. I was pointing out that both examples of this type of trashy propaganda help no one and only serve to condition people into thinking the way that you do.

            Rather, I would suggest once more, and hopefully for the last time, that you broaden your perspective and allow for the humanity of both sides to shine through. That was my point in countering your propaganda with equal and opposite propaganda, but instead you actually defended and advocated for what took place in the Israeli one. That is utterly hypocritical, especially when you continue to dehumanize the other side.

        • Jeff Shope

          thats the msnbc and cnn way u mean

          • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

            Ad Hominem attacks on character and distortions are standard practice for Fox. That’s the red meat they throw to the wolves every day. It keeps their ratings high.

      • art thiel

        Fergawdsakes, the man is a professional athlete punching above his weight trying to learn and understand. He thought the optics were bad and passed on the trip, not the chance to see for himself while free of being used.

        • Nessie

          Until the Palestinians can agree to a compromise as they have already rejected a couple of generous ones from past Israeli presidents, “Palestine” could refer to Gaza and or Judea and Samaria which is more commonly referred to as West Bank. Bennett has demonstrated that he knows enough to know that the agenda of people who want to show Israel in a positive light, conflicts with the agenda of those who want to show how a people have remained in a state of victimization. The tour guides of Gaza and the West Bank would make it seem as if Israelis are exclusively to blame for any dismal living conditions of the Palestinians – but it is the Islamists who control their population and deliberately keep them victimized who are to blame. Those Islamists also make life miserable for the Jews and other peace loving Arabs in the region.

          Bennett wrote he looks at Muhammad Ali as a hero who later in life became unapologetically anti-Israel and anti -Jewish, sympathizing with terrorists. He quoted from John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics about justice with no hint of irony that the next Olympics hosted a group of Palestinian terrorists who tortured and killed all of the Israeli athletes and coaches.

          Bennett knows that a guided trip of the West Bank and Gaza would deliberately shield him from getting to know happy Israeli Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, etc. – so he is choosing to be shielded from some things.

          If he cared about the Palestinians, and I hope he does – he would demand compassionate and brave leadership from them, I hope he will. He would brush up on writings by intelligent and brave journalists like Arab Israeli, Khaled abu Toameh and Palestinian Bassam Tawil – people who put their safety on the line to communicate to the world the cruelty and dysfunction of the Islamic governments that aim to destroy the Jewish one and use their own people in the process.

          If Michael Bennett wants to be exposed equally to both sides, then he could take two trips – maybe with the same flight to save time – hosted by leaders of both. He might not have the time or care to do that – but he certainly had an opinion formed and was deliberately rejecting an offer from a people who have suffered greatly in the propaganda wars.

          • art thiel

            I doubt Bennett would turn down a visit to either side, but both should see him as a private citizen whose presence as an American athlete is not to be exploited for propaganda purposes.

          • Nessie

            Well, he did turn down a visit from the Israeli side.

            He is a private citizen and entitled to live as such, yet he does wield his popularity to forward his political opinions – via tweets and such letters. If not the case, he could have quietly declined the trip to Israel but instead chose to make a point and one that is anything but balanced (though masked as such to the unsuspecting).

          • art thiel

            He wrote to “Dear World,” so of course he’s a public figure. He’s also written he’s sensitive to the positions of black and brown people. That doesn’t mean he’s deaf to the Israeli view. But why would he want to be cast as either side’s good will ambassador?

          • Nessie

            Do you think that there are no Black and Brown Israelis? Do you not know what MLK knew which was that Jews and Black people were fighting a similar fight? Just because the Palestinians hijacked that with smoke and mirrors does not mean that MLK’s sentiments are any less truthful now as they were then.

            Miss Israel from 2013 is from Ethiopia. She is strong, gorgeous, loves her country and fought to protect it from Islamic militants. She is a Black Jew. Jews are a race – Islamists are not. (Arabs – the great majority of Islmaists are).

            You write as if Bennett didn’t choose to be distanced from one side and clumped with another. His hero, who he deliberately mentioned in regards to this very topic, Muhammed Ali, hated Israel and was derogatory to the Jewish people.

            Bennett is entitled to feel the same.

            You are entitled to act as if he is simply not choosing a side.

            Please – I initially had respect for you as a journalist but now you are just whitewashing evidence to state a value that your subject didn’t even state. Bennett wrote a letter to decline going to Israeli on a trip sponsored by Israelis as if that would not be a “just” thing to do. He is clearly influenced by the propaganda from Israel haters – to the depth he feels the same – I don’t know – but he is choosing to side with them and did so openly in his Dear World letter.

          • Nessie

            You use the words “boycott the trip.” I’m not sure why you are trying to argue against your own piece by claiming now that Bennett was being unbiased and balanced. It isn’t even how you reported his sentiment. If you thought there was something wrong with having an anti-Israel sentiment and wanted to protect Bennett from being viewed as having it – you might have been able to write the article differently. But please don’t condemn me for simply articulating what is there.

    • Steven

      Exactly! And yet there are people on here hating this man for not wanting to be used and wanting to take his time to look at the issues!

  • rosetta_stoned

    And millions of voices throughout the Middle East cry out, “Who?”

    • Tian Biao

      they may not know who he is, but they know exactly where he stands.

    • art thiel

      Hey, it was Israel that thought he was enough of a big deal to invite him. Talk to them.

  • Effzee


  • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

    Hell yeah. So proud of you Michael Bennet. This is an inspiring new era in athletes taking unpopular positions as matters of conscience. As if I couldn’t cheer any louder. True change comes from the ground up.

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  • (redacted)

    Maybe he’ll be kind of the modern day Ali or something.

  • Nessie

    How noble of Michael Bennett to refuse “to be an ambassador of good will.”

    If he were concerned about human rights, it would be prudent to go on the trip to see what the people Israel has to say for themselves.

    He should have kept Martin Luther King, Jr out of his tweet. He just looks more foolish to those who are familiar with history – and his supposed heroes.

    MLK, Jr. was proponent of Jews and Zionism and democracy and Israel (side note – Ari Lesser has a nice ditty on that on youtube – maybe he could groove to those tunes).

    Bennet is among those who have opportunity to learn but prefer to remain willfully blind.

    He fears knowledge. That trip proposes exposure to ideas he hasn’t already been conditioned to think.

    Having knowledge of a balanced and genuine history of Israel and the sites doesn’t necessarily require one to discuss the wonders of that imperfect yet wonderful little country – yet – it doesn’t require one to be an “ambassador of good will,” but, having a conscience would – why mess with a perfectly ignorant conscience that allows the preaching of hate with the misguided belief it is just.

    So, Brothers Bennet and Kenny Stills – enjoy Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – it’s all in the little enclave briefly part of Egypt.

    To the intelligent and curious NFL players accepting this journey – enjoy, have fun, be dazzled. Israel is a beautiful land with wonderful people of a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds. You won’t be disappointed.

    • Tian Biao

      He’s not objecting to Israel per se; his objection, as I see it, is that it’s a one-sided propaganda trip, from one perspective only. As to the larger issue, it’s morally indefensible in a modern world to keep 4.5 million Palestinians in a state of permanent subjugation. All the adjectives in the world – wonderful, dazzling, etc – can’t explain that fact away.

      • Nessie

        Palestinians are in a state of permanent subjugation because they are tools of Islamists. You too seem not to know the history of the region yet have a strong opinion. In 2005 when Israel withdrew from Gaza which was once actually part of Egypt , terrorists, instead of building on what could have been a new independence of a new country called Palestine, they decided to slam rockets into Israel. No global objection, until Israel enforced a security blockade. Islam is about submission and subjugation. Palestinians are tools to their brethren. Nothing more. Damn right there is no excuse to treat people that way.

        • Tian Biao

          I’m beginning to see why Bennett declined the trip.

          • Nessie

            Would you be so kind as to clarify and articulate why?

          • Tian Biao

            Because he is likely to be surrounded by ideologues, and ideologues are tedious: they’re annoying, because they’re inflexible, and they’re boring, because they seldom go off topic.

            In a larger sense, I consider patriotism and nationalism to be modern forms of tribalism; they’re childish and dangerous, and as a species, we urgently need to outgrow them. Your passion is symptomatic. I don’t admire this kind of passion; actually, it worries me.

            Luckily, there are cures for these dated notions. In your case, I would prescribe some perspective. Take a deep breath; take a step back; take a broader view. You never know what might happen.

          • Nessie

            I appreciate your candor even though I disagree with much, but not all, of your analysis.

        • art thiel

          The issue is not about the state of relations between the sides. The issue is your condemnation of a man trying to navigate the unfamiliar.

          • Nessie

            The thing is – this does not seem totally unfamiliar to him as evidenced by the references he made. I am not condemning him any more than he is condemning Israel.

            If he were to really navigate the unfamiliar, he could try to understand why Israel thinks it is important they they need ambassadors of good will.

            I appreciate that you attempted to report the topic with sensitivity, citing the outlets prompting statements (like prefacing that the Institute for Middle East Understanding is pro-Palestinian). The article is a reference to relations between both sides. I do not condemn the man – but his choice to turn down a plea for exposure and understanding.

            I am a Patriot’s fan (and not just because of the philanthropy that Robert Kraft does in Israel and the U.S.). I’m disheartened by Bennett’s brothers decision to turn down the trip as well. It is a deliberate choice expressing a clear disregard for the people offering it. They are entitled to that.

            I do hope that the NFL players who go challenge their perceptions regardless of what they are, challenge the tour guides for deeper understanding while appreciating the influence they are recognized as having. I look forward to reading about their experiences.

          • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

            I get that you’re brilliant you are in regards to your knowledge of this issue and the rest of us are well beneath your intellectual pedigree. It doesn’t surprise you’re a Pat’s fan either. The recent picture I saw of Kraft dining with Trump is all I need to be convinced as to his values which is all the more reason I’ll be cheering against his team.

          • Nessie

            Actually, it’s not so much that I’m brilliant about this issue, but I’m passionate about it and very informed and truthful regarding Israel and how she survives the crushing human powers again her. Look at these posts alone on this page, I’m the only one speaking up for a democracy, the only one who cheers for a country surrounded by others who oppress their people, gas or kill them, like in Syria, arrest their journalists, like Turkey and the Palestinian Territories, under punish “honor killings,” where homosexuality is illegal, often punished by death, on and on.

            Vulnerable people from those regions try to get into Israel to be safe from their own governments and families.

            Islamists are creating a huge refugee problem and the richest of the Arab oil states are not taking any even though they share the same language, culture and religion. The co-religionists of the meanest people in Gaza are wreaking having on the world creating one of the biggest refugee crises the world has seen since WWII and you all slam me for criticizing a guy who proudly and vocally sides with the people whose ideology is creating immense sadness and destruction. I stand with the people who are surviving and being generous to the world through donated medical care and technology education where it’s most needed and you have to look for a reason to distance yourself from me though you might be even less liberal than I am.

            I did not vote for Trump. I did vote for Obama. I see in the end that his willfully ignorance regarding Islam and its direct influence on the attacks in the US, making the world vulnerable through the Iran deal are characteristics that lef to the rise of Trump who is a mess on this country. With that said, I didn’t vote for Clinton either who I viewed as an extension of the failed man I voted for.

            If I were so brilliant, I’d find a better way to solve the worlds problems. I’m educated and honest and kind. If you recognized that I’m “brilliant” regarding the topic, that signals to me you did some research of your own. That’s all it takes to make this world a better place, that and an open mind. I can’t save/ inform the world but I’m working on something even though I see that holding up the truth only gets animosity toward the good guys – even from people who believe they share the same values with them.

          • art thiel

            I appreciate your detour from the caustic.

            You were condemning him and he is not condemning Israel.

            The need for both sides to be dogmatic in the face of third-party indecision or possible sympathy is tiresome. There’s is nothing inherently wrong with Bennett’s arms-length reaction to a propaganda device. The players who do go are certainly welcome, and I hope an equivalent opportunity is provided to them by the Palestinians.

          • Nessie

            I never said there is something wrong with Bennett’s arms length approach – but I called it out for what it is. He referenced Palestinians living on the land for thousands of years. That is false propaganda. Most Palestinians moved there in the early 1900s after the Jews in the late 1800’s moved there and improved the land and economy. Many got along well but for those who didn’t – they ruined peace for all. Jews were attacked over and over again and didn’t preemptively fight back until after 1929.

            You know sports and I know the Middle East conflict and quickly detect a consumer of propaganda that is false. No doubt one of the many Palestinian tour groups will offer Bennett the trip he spelled out he wants. I do doubt that he would turn it down in the same way he pushed away the hand of the Israelis.

            Again – he is entitled to all of that. I am just posting it all as I see it and as he expressed it.

            Ask yourself this – after reading the letter – do you think that Bennet had a positive of negative view of Israel?

          • Nessie

            Suggesting a truce – to agree to disagree.
            Take care.

          • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu


          • Nessie

            Wow, and you accuse me of being lame and condescending. You all are like piranha.

    • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

      Your own ideology/religion is blinding you.

    • art thiel

      I have been acquainted with Bennett over these past few years. To say he fears knowledge is a smear unwarranted from another educated man.

      • Nessie

        For that, I apologize. Whereas I am not making up any facts but just commenting on your article and stating my opinion of Michael Bennett’s choice, I didn’t consider it a smear but maybe a harsh accusation (though still not necessarily untrue – would be impressed to be proven wrong).

        I could have said more clearly, “It seems to me that he fears knowledge.”

        I will go back in to edit the post with that tone.

        • art thiel

          I appreciate the apology, but even your qualifier impugns a man who is implicitly attempting to break from the dumb-jock mold. I would like to think that advocates of the Jewish perspective would assiduously avoid stereotyping.

          • Nessie

            It didn’t even occur to me that my words could be taken to imply that he was being a “dumb jock.” I actually don’t view intelligence and athleticism as mutually exclusive.

            My reference to fearing knowledge was to point to a fear he seems to have that would challenge his preconceived notions. I didn’t say he was unable to absorb knowledge – but feared it.

    • Steven

      Wow, if these “ambassadors of goodwill” are to be anything like this, he’s clearly made the right choice.

      “To the intelligent and curious NFL players…”

      What are you insinuating?

  • Mícheál Mac Cionnaith

    I could not more solidly be behind Bennett’s decision. The U.S. has been Israel’s “lap dog” forever: Forking over Billions of dollars to Israel, but do you ever see Israel as among the nations who help the U.S. in military situations? No; you don’t. Because Israel’s “M.O.” is to take all they can get, and give nothing in return. (Also, as a lawyer, I wish people would *STOP* invoking the 1st Amendment every time that speech is involved. The 1st Amendment (as with most of the Bill of Rights) is a limitation on GOVERNMENTAL action. It’s most definitely NOT a limitation on the rights of individuals or private concerns.)

    • art thiel

      Glad you pointed out the canard about free speech. The founders were all about limiting the power of government. Otherwise it’s a monarchy or dictatorship. Which is what President Bannon wants. Telling the media “to shut up” is exactly the kind of abuse of power that the Constitution’s checks and balances are designed to thwart.

  • Ken Tidwejj

    Most of you folks don’t really see the big picture. About 95% of the Palestinians are Musim, about 100% of the Israelis are not. It’s easy to see who’s side he is on. I’m surprised he waited so long to make his political statement.

    • Nessie

      Actually – about 80% of Israelis are not Muslim – 20% are.

      Part of the reason that so many Palestinians are Muslims is because Islam was imposed on them. Many have Jewish ancestry from pre-Islamic conquest and many, who were Christians, got squeezed out by jizya taxes and other abuses.

      I appreciate that you recognize here that Bennett was indeed making a political statement. Many on here credit him for doing the opposite and keeping an “open mind.” Kudos for recognizing it and identifying his action for what it is.

    • art thiel

      Is there a point here?

      • Ken Tidwejj

        Of course, MB is anti Israeli. The trip would alienate his Muslim friends.

  • Steven


    It seems that those who are spouting vitriol and hate towards this man are part and parcel of the very agenda that he is refusing to be used by. These “ambassadors of goodwill” seem to be anything but.

    • art thiel

      Six Pats so far, but the invite has yet to be extended. Seems the new administration is busy putting out political fires.

  • Jeff Shope

    wish he would shut up with his liberal crap it sold

    • art thiel

      Ever the enlightened perspective, Jeff.

    • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

      Respectfully I ask, WTF sold?


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