by Fitzgerald Cecilio
New York, NY
New York Jets rookie offensive lineman Oday Aboushi labeled as "lies and smears" accusations that he's a fundamentalist Muslim who associates himself with radicals opposed to Israel.
"My family's been just as shocked by the lies and smears as I've been," Aboushi said in a telephone interview with the New York Post.
"I don't think I'm radical at all. I have never done any radical behavior. For the writer to come out and claim that just builds lies on top of the lies," he added.
A fifth round pick by the Jets, Aboushi is believed to be the first Palestinian-American drafted by an NFL team.
Aboushi made the statement after a conservative Jewish web site - Frontpagemag.com -- reported that he is anti-Semitic and uses social media to endorse what they consider Palestinian terrorist groups.
Since then, Aboushi has been besieged by angry tweets and messages.
The report also called for the Jets -- whose fanbase includes a large Jewish contingent -- to immediately release Aboushi because of his views.
However, Aboushi told The Post his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are anything but radical.
"My feelings are very fair -- I wish both sides would come to a peaceful agreement and both live in peace," Aboushi said. "I want to see them live together in harmony and enjoy the land instead of focusing on conflict with each other."
Also, Aboushi denied being an anti-Semitic, saying he has many Jewish friends.
"Some of my best friends are Jewish. I have teammates who are Jewish, and I was brought up with Jewish kids. I never had any problem with them, and I respect them just as much as they respect me," he said.
Despite the accusations against their player, the Jets said they will not cut Aboushi. The club also released a statement today supporting -- within bounds -- their players' right to free speech.