Only five NFL players are taking part in this week’s visit to Israel, with six players backing out after discovering the trip is being organized by the Israeli government.
The tour got under way as planned on Monday, but with fewer players than intended, following the publicized withdrawal of several of its originally scheduled participants.
The trip is being organized by the Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ministry in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry and America’s Voices in Israel, an initiative of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
According to Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan, the trip is supposed to result in the players showing “their tens of millions of fans the true face of Israel.”
However, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett led the boycott by posting a letter in which he wrote he refuses to be “used” by the Israeli government, being joined by brother Martellus, a tight end who won the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots last week, and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills.
Ultimately, only five players arrived in the country: Calais Campbell of the Arizona Cardinals, Dan Williams of the Oakland Raiders, Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints, Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans, and Philadelphia Eagles player Mychal Kendricks.
All five were present at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa on Tuesday, one of the planned stops on the seven-day trip.
The trip is also scheduled to include visits to Yad Vashem and the Black Hebrew community in Dimona, as well as an exhibition game played by players from the Israel Football Association in Jerusalem on February 18.
The visiting players have been mostly silent on social media since their arrival, with the exception of Kendricks, who posted an Instagram video on Tuesday in a Tel Aviv eatery, singing and asking a waitress to say hello to the camera “in your language.”
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