NFL players pull out of Israel trip

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

NFL players pull out of Israel trip

Three American footballers refuse to go on tour saying they don't want to be "used" by Israeli government.

Andrew Sherwood is the Jewish News Sport and Community Editor

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was the first of three NFL players to pull out of a tour to Israel.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was the first of three NFL players to pull out of a tour to Israel.

Three NFL players who were set to go on a tour of Israel have pulled out of the trip, saying they don’t want to be “used” by the Israeli government.

Eleven players were due to go on the trip, which is a joint-initiative between the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy. Taking in visits to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Christian sites, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said it was to give the players a balanced picture of Israel, while showcasing the country’s “true face” to the world.

However, a trio of the stars have since decided not to go, with Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett the first to pull out. First tweeting a picture of Martin Luther King Jr., saying “I’m not going to Israel,” he then explained the reason for decisions. He said: “I was excited to see this remarkable and historic part of the world with my own eyes. I was not aware until reading this 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 good will.’ “I will not be used in such a manner.

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

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills retweeted Bennett, adding: “Couldn’t have said it any better. I’m in!”, before Bennett’s brother Martellus, who was part of the New England Patriots team that won the Super Bowl last week, joined the boycott.

Adding how one of his heroes was Muhammad Ali, Michael Bennett, in his letter, said how Ali “always stood strongly with the Palestinian people,” and said that he wants to be a “voice for the voiceless…I cannot do that by going on this kind of a trip to Israel.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: