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February 12, 2016 2:23 pm

Major Jewish Group Rallies Behind Soccer Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo Following Attacks Over Israeli Commercial (VIDEO)


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Cristiano Ronaldo. The soccer player received backlash for staring in an Israeli commercial. Photo: Screenshot.

Cristiano Ronaldo. The soccer player received backlash for starring in an Israeli commercial. Photo: Screenshot.

A major US Jewish organization announced its support for soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday after the athlete was attacked on social media for starring in an Israeli commercial.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement that Ronaldo was “unfairly attacked by anti-Israel activists” for his appearance in an ad for HOT, an Israeli cable company. He said the athlete was the victim of an “ugly smear campaign which attempts to stigmatize any celebrity who participates in anything Israeli.”

“Here is an athlete who has both Israeli and Palestinian fans and has reached out to all,” Greenblatt added. “His appearance in an Israeli commercial has nothing to do with politics or ‘choosing sides’ and we commend him for not succumbing to the campaign which seeks to demonize every aspect of Israeli life.”

The HOT commercial features the Real Madrid player alongside a trio of Israeli comedians, known as Ma Kashur, who debate which is faster: Ronaldo or their HOT Internet connection.

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Ronaldo posted a link to the new commercial on Twitter on Wednesday with the message: “There are rumors that I’m going to be a star in Israel. Not in soccer… In a HOT commercial.” Shortly afterwards, anti-Israel activists took to social media to criticize the soccer star for associating with an Israeli company. One Twitter user wrote “you spelled occupied Palestine pretty weird” while another wrote “there’s nothing called Israel its called Palestine,”

A different social media user wrote on Ronaldo’s Facebook page, “You’ve just disappointed us.”

Greenblatt said the “demand” on public figures to refuse doing business with Israel is “unfair and wrongly asserts that Israel is solely responsible for the [Israel-Palestinian] conflict and should be shunned and isolated.”

“This only stifles important interactions and reasonable discourse that lead to greater awareness and understanding,” he added.

Ronaldo’s HOT commercial is not the first time he has drawn criticism from anti-Israel activists. He upset social media users in 2013 when he posted on Facebook a photo of himself and his teammates in Tel Aviv with the caption “Great morning in Israel with my colleagues.” Ronaldo was visiting the Jewish state with the Portugal national team to compete in a World Cup qualifying match.

Watch Cristiano Ronaldo’s HOT commercial below.


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