Newly inducted baseball Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera — a popular and universally admired athlete — was the subject of a smear piece criticizing his support of Israel, his faith and conservative politics. The piece was so volatile, you would think he was an Al Qaeda sympathizer (like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who refuses to condemn the group) or said something positive about the Holocaust (like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who said that thinking about the Holocaust brings “calming feeling”).
The New York Yankees pitching legend was the first player to be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame. But the hit piece, titled “Inside baseball Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera’s far-right politics,” was published on the Daily Beast website just hours before Rivera’s induction ceremony.
The reporter, Robert Silverman, mixed praise for Rivera’s career with criticism, noting that the Christian ball player has taken several trips to Israel. To be clear, not communist Cuba or police state Iran, but democratic ally of the United States, Israel!
“While there, Rivera said the [Israel Defense Forces] trains soldiers to be ‘a better person, a better citizen, and a better human being,’ according to a statement put out by the FIDF. Two-and-a-half months earlier, Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 Palestinian protesters in Gaza and injured thousands more,” Silverman wrote. “The excursion went so well, David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel who once described J Street, a Jewish lobbying group that has endorsed a two-state solution, as ‘worse than Kapos,’ proudly tweeted a photo shaking hands with Rivera.”
(So the reader will know, J Street is a US-based, far left wing Jewish group that hates Israel. It is not based in Israel and does not have one Israeli on its board, but thinks it can advocate for suicidal policies for Israel. And the claim that Israel killed 60 Palestinians is without context. These were militants storming Israel’s border, and 50 out of the 60 have been confirmed as members of Hamas, a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction.)
The outrage directed at this article was intense and immediate.
“It was bad enough to run a hit piece on Mariano Rivera on the day of his induction into the Hall of Fame,” said William A. Jacobson, Cornell Law School professor. “It was much worse to lace the coverage with anti-Israel and anti-Trump invective, and to use a featured image of Rivera standing on a pitching mound made of a ‘kippah’ made from an Israeli flag.”
The Washington Examiner reported earlier this month that he supports Israel because, as Christian, it is the biblical thing to do.
“As a Christian, I do believe that the Lord gave us the Bible,” Rivera said. “The Bible speaks about Israel. Everything – from New Testament, Old Testament – it’s all about Israel and the relationship his people have. So as a Christian, I understand that the chosen people of God is Israel — Jewish Israel. The country was made by him. All the other countries were made by men. This country was built by him for his people.”
Silverman’s piece implies that Rivera kept his political views a secret, as if that were sinister. But it is no wonder why he did it, seeing how Silverman unleashed a seething attack.
“Little in-depth coverage of Rivera and Israel exists outside of the Israeli media and a few right-wing blogs,” the author wrote.
Jay Maxson, writing for Media Research Center, noted the double standard in the press: “This was a shameful, craven attack by Silverman, one designed to besmirch Rivera on the very day of his enshrinement at Cooperstown. But it’s not surprising in a time when sports media glorify radical leftists like Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe.”
“It’s pathetic that a man of faith, universally admired by those who’ve followed his amazing career, is targeted in this hit piece over his Christian faith, biblical beliefs and his support for Israel.”