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3 Iyar 5768 - May 8, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly
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NEWS
NEWS FROM AGUDATH ISRAEL OF AMERICA

By Eliezer Rauchberger

In response to calls from within the Jewish community to boycott the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Agudath Israel issued the following statement:

A number of American Jewish leaders have publicly called upon Jews to boycott the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games.

We at Agudath Israel of America understand the motivation behind the effort. We too are deeply concerned about reports of human rights violations in China. We believe, however, that it is presumptuous, and perhaps even counterproductive, for a group of private citizens to urge a boycott of the Beijing Olympics and to direct their appeal specifically at members of the Jewish community.

The Jewish leaders' call for a boycott includes language that may be seen as suggesting some moral equation between the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and the 2008 Olympics in China. In Agudath Israel's view, any such comparison is entirely misplaced. The differences between the Nazi government and the Chinese government are not mere differences of degree; they are fundamental differences of kind. For Jewish leaders, of all people, to mention the two in the same breath is highly inappropriate.

We further note that Jews escaping the horrors of the Holocaust found refuge in China during the Nazi era; and that China currently interacts in a number of positive ways with both the United States and Israel. None of this excuses China's reported shortcomings on the human rights front, but the fuller historical and contemporary record by which China may be judged should have given the boycott promoters pause before issuing their public statement.

 

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