A dozen Jews created an open letter to companies that make products for the Washington football team and the Commissioner of the National Football League. They all agreed to this short statement "We Jews call for companies to refuse to make humiliating 'redskin' products and if team owner Dan Snyder refuses to change the team name, for the NFL to seize and sell the team." A hundred eventually signed on.
Why a Jewish letter? Two reasons. First, because the owner of the Dallas Cowboys claimed that Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington team could not be "insensitive" in keeping the name "redskins" since Snyder was a Jew. Second because the Ray Halbritter (Oneida Nation representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises, parent company of Indian Country Today Media Network) asked Jews not to buy products bearing the current Washington name or use the team logo. We wanted to respond to the Oneida call and to criticize Snyder for using Jewish suffering as an excuse to humiliate others.
On the Move On petition site where the statement was housed there was this further explanation for the statement:
The "R" Word is the Same as the "N" Word and the "K" word
We Jews are appalled that fellow Jew Dan Snyder is blind to the fact that the name of the Washington football team that he owns is racist and deeply offensive to Indian peoples. As Indian leader Clyde Bellecourt said recently the “R” word is no different than the “N” word. We’d add that it’s also no different than the “K” word that has been used to taunt Jews for centuries.
Words matter. They can hurt and humiliate. They can help turn people into targets of hate.
The name of the team has led to other practices that promote humiliating stereotypes like fans wearing “headdresses” of chicken feathers or the mass tomahawk chop or cries to “scalp” opposing teams.
It is especially wrong to be shaming Indians, who have suffered so enormously from mass killing, land theft, treaty breaking and attempts to eradicate their cultures.
Dan Snyder may live in a luxurious bubble, but he can research the slurs said about Jews over the ages, about our physical appearance, our financial practices and he can read about the absurd lies about supposed uses of Christian blood in Jewish rituals.
We call on all Jewish organizations to speak out on this issue.
We call on companies to stop making any products for the Washington football team
Dan Snyder has said he would "never" change the Washington team name. If this is true we call on the NFL commissioners to seize ownership of the team from Snyder and sell it to the city of Washington or to a group of non-bigoted owners.
The initiators of the petition were:
Jan Bauman, San Rafael, CA, retired
Medea Benjamin, Washington DC, Code Pink
Phyllis Bennis, Director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, DC
Stanley Heller, Connecticut, host of “The Struggle” Video News
Judith Kolokoff, Seattle WA, member of Jewish Voices for Peace and American Jews for a Just Peace
Steve Krevisky, Congress of Conn. Community Colleges-4C's/Service Employees International Union
Savvas Michael-Matsas, Athens-Greece
Robert Naiman, Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy, Washington, DC
Joseph Levine, Massachusetts, professor of philosophy
Paula Friedland Panzarella, New Haven, CT poet and peace activist
Lillian Rosengarten, New York, poet ,writer, activist for the creation of a free bi-national country: Palestine/Israel without walls.
Josh Ruebner, author, Washington, DC
Abraham Weizfeld, Administrative Secretary, Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians, Alliance de Canadiennes juives-fs consternées
The full list of signers can be seen here.
Stanley Heller is host of The Struggle a weekly TV news magazine, and is executive director of the Middle East Crisis Committee. He writes for EconomicUprising.com and TheStruggle.org. He's a semi-retired school teacher in Connecticut. He can be reached at info@TheStruggle.org.