By Marilyn Neimark
When the usual suspects– David Horowitz’s Front Page Magazine and Debbie Schlussel’s blog –went ballistic over the NFL’s NY Jets draft of Brooklyn born, Palestinian American Oday Aboushi, it looked poised to go viral as more mainstream venues, such as yahoo sports and Major League Baseball’s new media coordinator Jonathan Mael joined in the attack. It was no surprise that The Nation’s David Zirin, The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah, and Youssef Mounayer in The Daily Beast rushed to Aboushi’s defense. But the expected left-right shout-down didn’t materialize. The Yahoo story: “Could Oday Aboushi Jeopardize His NFL Career with Anti Israel….”, was taken down almost as quickly as it went up and Jonathan Mael’s mea culpa for his “beyond inappropriate” tweets attacking Abashi was reported in and endorsed by the NY Daily News. Even the ADL weighed in, pointing out in their press release that “Being pro-Palestinian does not mean you’re an anti-Semite or an extremist. The record simply does not show that Aboushi has crossed that line.”
So what at first appeared to be grist for the Muzzlewatch mill, turned out to be something else entirely. Apparently talking about the nakba and empathizing with the Palestinians displaced by Israel is no longer beyond the pale, at least within professional sports, and at least for a Palestinian American. Signs like this of a shift in the range of acceptable discourse are exciting, to be sure. But to the extent they’re happening it’s because we’ve been pushing back against the sowers of hate. This is no time to slacken our efforts.