Remnant News Watch
Jewish Leaders Support Boycott of Beijing Olympics

Mark Allesio

A wide-ranging group of U.S. Jewish leaders “released a statement last week urging Jews worldwide to boycott the Summer Olympics in Beijing, citing China's troubling record on human rights and Tibet,” reports the Associated Press (May 7, 2008). The statement, which has been signed by 185 rabbis and prominent Jewish leaders, declares:

We are deeply troubled by China's support for the genocidal government of Sudan; its mistreatment of the people of Tibet; its denial of basic rights to its own citizens; and its provision of missiles to Iran and Syria, and friendship for Hamas. Having endured the bitter experience of abandonment by our presumed allies during the Holocaust, we feel a particular obligation to speak out against injustice and persecution today.

The statement was organized by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, past chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of New York, and the Washington-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. Signers of the statement include Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Neil Goldstein and Richard Gordon of the American Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, an association of Conservative rabbis. Greenberg and Lookstein are Orthodox Jews. Rabbi Joel Meyers regards the statement as a call for Israel and Jewish athletes to boycott the Beijing Games. “It would be good if that happened," said Meyers. "(But) I know Israel has political ties to China, and does business with China. It presents a somewhat awkward issue for Israel."

"I would say in principle, athletes and tourists and governments should all draw the same conclusion to this," said Rabbi Yitz Greenberg. "Unless the Chinese make some significant corrections, they should not participate."

Comment: Two reactions to the proposed Jewish boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games offer some insight into the dangerously narrow lens through which the world is viewed by special interest groups. An April 30, 2008 press release by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) states, “The Anti-Defamation League does not support a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games,” and continues:

In calling for a boycott, some have drawn parallels with the Berlin Olympic Games of 1936. We believe that these comparisons are inappropriate.  China is a complicated society that is changing and opening up in many ways, and one simply cannot equate the Beijing Olympics with those games in Nazi Germany on the eve of the Holocaust.

A May 7, 2008 editorial from The Jewish Press, states:

Not only is it disappointing and somewhat insulting for Jews to so casually invoke Nazism, it reflects an amateurish effort to couple a one-dimensional expression of evil with one of the more complicated political phenomena of our time .... To be sure, there are Chinese policies that are still viewed by the West with justified repugnance. But we believe the consensus of international opinion is that, in this regard, China is a work in progress .... Better we should seek ways to coax China along the road it has chosen and accomplish what all of us seek.

A complicated society .... complicated political phenomena .... justified repugnance .... a work in progress. Such cavalier and genteel assessments in the face of such human suffering and horror. Imagine if someone suggested that the Palestinians were “a work in progress,” and suicide bombers merely expressions of a “complicated political phenomena.” We would never hear the end of it.

Just what is this admirable “road” that the Chinese government has chosen? The website has mapped out this “road,” whose stops include:

- The unrelenting persecution of “dissidents.” These “dissidents” include 78-year-old Shuang Shuying, sentenced to two years in prison for protesting her eviction from her home to make room for the Olympic Games. A diabetes sufferer, Shuang has gone blind while in prison and is not allowed to see her family. Legal-rights promoter, Chen Xiaoming, who fought against such forced evictions, was tortured and prison and died shortly after being released.

- Abuse of the death penalty. Of the 25 countries which executed prisoners in 2006, 91% (approximately 8,000 people) were killed in China, with the majority of China’s transplanted organs coming (without prior consent) from executed prisoners.

- The diabolical practice of forced abortions. This includes abortions in the ninth month of pregnancy and what amounts to the kidnapping of women whose unborn infants are summarily executed. In one instance, officials in Guangdong were ordered to carry out 20,000 abortions and sterilizations after Communist family-planning chiefs discovered that people were disregarding the official “one-child policy.”

- Continual violations against free speech. This includes the blocking of thousands of websites and 10 international radio stations by the Chinese government. One man, Shi Tao, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for sending an e-mail from his Yahoo account.

- Brutal religious persecution. Homes raided, and thousands of Catholics and Protestants imprisoned and tortured for the “crimes” of distributing Bibles and belonging to “underground” churches. The terrible sufferings of faithful priests and seminarians has been recorded in the pages of The Remnant.

And these stops along the “road” paved by the Chinese government do not even scratch the surface of such atrocities. But, what angers the ADL and The Jewish Press? Comparisons of the Beijing Games to the 1936 Berlin Games. THAT bothers them! It staggers the mind.

In his 1958 encyclical, Ad Apostolorum Princeps, Pope Pius XII wrote:

Nevertheless We regard it as Our duty to declare openly, with a heart filled to its depths with sorrow and anxiety, that affairs in China are, by deceit and cunning endeavor, changing so much for the worse that the false doctrine already condemned by Us seems to be approaching its final stages and to be causing its most serious damage.

Yes, Pius was writing specifically about the plight of Catholics in China, but we can view his words in a broader context. The proof is set before our eyes daily. True, with abortion being perhaps the greatest “human rights violation” on earth, other nations can’t climb too high up the moral high ground; however, regarding the Beijing Games, the ADL is wrong. The Dalai Lama, who has expressed support for the Beijing Games, is wrong.

In 1980, the United States led a boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The only rational option left is a boycott of the 2008 games. The Jewish signers of the boycott declaration have taken the right step. Having said that, however, some of these Jewish activist groups, such as the American Jewish Congress, who are in bed with the likes of the Southern Poverty Law Center, may want to review their own policies regarding free-speech and the harassment of ordinary, innocent Americans.


-Manila Cardinal Condemns “Cross-Dressing”
for Religious Festival

-Medieval Mosaic Pavement Revealed
in Westminster Abbey

Want More News?

Mark Alessio's "Remnant News Watch" column appears in every issue of The Remnant

Subscribe to The Remnant! For more information, please click here.