NFL’s condemnation of Hamas terrorism is important in fight against hate

Warning: The following article contains descriptions of graphic violence and sexual assault.

“Do people know Hamas is preaching the eradication of all Jewish people from the Earth?”

Robert Kraft asked that matter-of-factly.

The New England Patriots team owner appeared on CNBC Tuesday to explain the importance of education as the world grapples with the brutality of Hamas’ terror attacks on Israeli citizens.

Kraft was just the latest NFL voice to speak up.

The Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Commanders had already condemned the Hamas attack as of publication time. Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady released a statement Thursday afternoon. The NFL league office spoke out, too.

“The NFL mourns the loss of innocent lives in Israel and strongly condemns all forms of terrorism,” the NFL said in a statement Monday. “The depravity of these acts is beyond comprehension, and we grieve with the families of those killed, injured and still missing. We pray for peace and will always stand against the evils of hate.”

Boston, MA - May 15: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, at podium, along side Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, Governor Maura Healey, Attorney General Andrea Campbell,  Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and other community representatives, announced the new Face Jewish Hate campaign outside North Station. Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP) unveiled  a new issues advocacy campaign, Face Jewish Hate, to raise public awareness against an alarming rise in antisemitism. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Each team’s statement varied in language but dovetailed in sentiment. The Chiefs said they “denounce the recent senseless terrorism,” while the Giants added they “condemn the horrific, senseless terrorist attacks that have claimed innocent lives.” The 49ers “stand with the people of Israel,” they said, adding that they “strongly condemn all acts of terrorism and pray for peace for the entire region.”

The statements’ content, as much as their mere existence, resonated deeply with me.

I thought back to my dear friend, the late Holocaust survivor Max Glauben, whose biography “The Upstander” I spent five years reporting. The title was an ode to Max’s favorite mantra in his 94 years: “Be an ‘upstander,’ not a bystander.”

So few people stood up to the Nazis as they murdered 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. So now, after Hamas killed more Jews on Saturday than any day since the Holocaust in 1945, would anyone speak out?

I wondered: Would anyone realize the fear gripping members of the Jewish community as a United States-designated terrorist organization determined to kill all of us made progress toward their goal? Would anyone realize the grief and pain we all feel, as our friends and family share whom we’ve lost, whom we’re searching for and whom we know that’s now recovering from brutal assault?

Intelligence services, government officials and media outlets have reported Hamas is raping, killing, beheading and kidnapping Israeli babies, children, elderly, women and men.

Fifteen NFL entities weren't afraid to name what these actions constitute.


The NFL joined the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States who said: “The terrorist actions of Hamas have no justification, no legitimacy, and must be universally condemned.”

Hamas’ actions are a tragedy for Israeli and Palestinian people alike.

“All of us recognize the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, and support equal measures of justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” the joint statement said. “But make no mistake: Hamas does not represent those aspirations, and it offers nothing for the Palestinian people other than more terror and bloodshed.”

The NFL and at least 11 teams denounced the attack with the word “terrorism” or “terrorist attack.” They reminded the world this is not simply a geopolitical conflict or a battle for land – Hamas is killing and abusing innocent civilians as much for who they are as where they are.

As of Wednesday morning, Hamas had killed more than 1,200, almost all civilians, and wounded 3,000 in this attack, according to Israel’s embassy to the United States. They have taken hostage an estimated 150, according to Hamas and Israeli officials.

It’s not a coincidence that Saturday marked the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. That is Hamas’ goal. We need not speculate about its intent or motivation; the group spells it out in its playbook.

Hamas’ 1988 charter remains unequivocal. Its preamble states: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

The State Department has recognized Hamas as a terrorist organization since 1997. Hamas does not want to create a state or states in which Jews and Palestinians both live safely. The Hamas charter explicitly calls for the killing of Jews.

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees,” the charter reads. “The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."

This antisemitic, genocidal statement echoes eerily the sentiment of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime that slaughtered 6 million Jewish people during the Holocaust.

And in some ways, to me, the NFL response echoes what I’ve heard in recent years since publishing Max’s testimony. I think of the current NFL defensive coordinator who read “The Upstander” and approached me at the scouting combine to explain which of Max’s messages impacted him most deeply; the current NFL wide receiver who asked me questions about how Max survived, if I met him and if Max met Hitler. During my training camp tour this year, one player shouted to another, “She’s a Hebrew! She speaks Hebrew!,” after which I learned the linebacker (who is not Jewish) also speaks Hebrew and we conversed in our shared tongue. At another training camp, a general manager asked me about “The Upstander” before we even discussed his team.

Still, I didn’t expect to see such solidarity, support and unequivocal condemnation from the league. So often in Jewish history, we haven’t.

This time, thankfully, we are.

“It’s horrible to me that a group like Hamas can be respected and people in the United States of America can be carrying flags or supporting them, when they are preaching hate and destruction,” Kraft said. “We have to fight hate.”

In condemning Hamas’ attack this week, the NFL and 14 teams just did.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.