Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has decided not to accompany a group of NFL players touring Israel next week, citing human rights concerns.
Bennett announced his withdrawal in an Instagram post last night. He was one of 12 players who had been scheduled to participate in the tour, which was sponsored by the Israeli government and involved visits to various religious sites along with an exhibition game with the Israeli Football Association. Bennett noted that a Times of Israel piece from earlier in the week helped him make his decision, particularly quotes from government officials that referred to the players as “influencers and opinion-formers” and expressed hope that they would “become ambassadors of good will for Israel.”
Bennett said that he was not interested in being used in such a way and will instead plan his own trip to Israel that also includes visits to the West Bank and Gaza.
One of the other players in the delegation, wide receiver Kenny Stills of the Dolphins, tweeted support for Bennett’s decision and indicated that he would be withdrawing from the trip as well, though he has not released an official statement.