This is big. Two weeks ago, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights staff spearheaded a letter to NFL players planning to attend an Israeli government-sponsored propaganda trip to Israel, urging the players to cancel. The next day, former Super Bowl star Michael Bennett boldly proclaimed “I’m not going to Israel” in a tweet along with a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr with Stokely Carmichael. Then, one by one, other players publicly cancelled with him. Of the 11 players initially slated to go, 6 athletes skipped the trip!
This is a game-changer on so many levels.
Never before have we seen U.S. sports players on this scale engaged in the boycott of Israel’s propaganda efforts. We remember that the sporting boycott of South Africa played a critical role in de-normalizing apartheid by impacting the country where it would be felt most — teams and athletes refused to compete with the apartheid state in cricket, rugby, soccer, many other sports, and the Olympics. The Palestinian call for the cultural and academic boycott of Israel includes the sports boycott as an extremely effective instrument of change.
Never before have we seen so many celebrities take a stand at once and so explicitly in political opposition to Israeli oppression. While many cultural figures have cancelled trips to Israel, Michael Bennett issued a letter quoting 1968 Olympian John Carlos: “‘There is no partial commitment to justice. You are either in or you’re out.’ Well,” Bennet wrote, “I’m in.” He expressed his desire to visit with Palestinians and be a “voice for the voiceless” in accordance with his own conscience and values. We are reminded of the cultural figures who, one after the other, announced proudly and publicly that they would not perform in South Africa, likewise garnering massive support for the anti-apartheid movement and speeding the fall of that regime.
Following Bennett’s cancellation, we mobilized a second letter to thank him, showing how many have his back in the face of predictable backlash. Will you have our back now as we continue this critical organizing that is more necessary than ever?
Our letter urging cancellation carried historic weight from signatories like Civil Rights icons Angela Davis and Alice Walker; performance stars Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, and Boots Riley; famed athletes John Carlos and Craig Hodges; Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza; and Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow; among others. Like these signatories, many athletes who skipped the trip are outspoken social justice activists now making the connections between Black and Palestinian liberation.
This past month we’ve been slammed with ever-present reminders of the steep path ahead in achieving justice for communities targeted by state violence. It has never been clearer that change will not come from the top — We need effective grassroots campaigns that shift the power and conversation in support of freedom, justice, and equality.
The US Campaign is there, day after day, night after night — often behind the scenes — organizing game-changing campaigns to build cross-movement connections and achieve milestones once unimaginable. We can only do it with people like you by our side. Be a part of more game-changing milestones for Palestinian rights with an investment in the US Campaign today.
The trip cancellations spurred more than 75 major media hits, including in ESPN, Newsweek, Yahoo! News, Associated Press, Washington Post, CNN, USA Today, BET, and NBC Sports, informing tens of millions of people worldwide — including many audiences that do not normally hear about the injustice being done to Palestinians — about Israel’s propaganda efforts to whitewash its war crimes. Help reach these heights again and again with a $75 donation today — one for every media hit. Every donation amount, big or small, helps us take this work further.