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U.S. Jewish Leaders Urge Boycott of Olympics

May 2, 2008

By STEPHANIE KANG and CHRISTOPHER RHOADS
The Wall Street Journal
May 1, 2008

American Jewish leaders urged Jews world-wide to boycott the Summer
Olympics in Beijing, citing the Chinese government's policies regarding
Sudan and Tibet.

The group, which included about 185 rabbis and other Jewish leaders,
said it was "deeply troubled" by China's provision of missiles to Iran
and Syria, as well as its "friendship" with Islamist group Hamas.

In a statement, the group said it is urging a boycott because it
believes China is using the Olympic Games as a way to deflect attention
from its human-rights record, much the way that Nazi Germany used the
1936 Olympic Games to distract attention from its persecution of Jews.
[Beijing 2008] BEIJING 2008

Read complete coverage of the Olympics and China's efforts to prepare
for the Games, and track the torch's route.

"We remember all too well that the road to Nazi genocide began in the
1930s, with Hitler's efforts to improve the public image of his evil
regime. Jews should not be party to the whitewashing of such a regime,"
read the statement, which was released just before Holocaust Remembrance
Day and is titled "The China Olympics Are Not Kosher."

"It's an important moral lesson that a totalitarian regime can be
successful at whitewashing international events," said Rafael Medoff,
director of the David W. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in
Washington. "There's no doubt that the Chinese government would like the
Olympics to serve the same purpose today."

Mr. Medoff said the group will discuss how to approach Jewish athletes
about the boycott.

China's government has strongly criticized calls to boycott the Games,
arguing it is against the spirit of the Olympics to politicize the
event. A call to the Chinese Embassy in Washington about the move by
Jewish leaders wasn't returned.

Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, a former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial
Council, said he and other Jewish leaders were moved to take action
after they learned of China's plans to provide kosher food in the
Olympic Village in Beijing.

"We felt it was a Chinese government attempt to get broader
respectability, and that it was something that should be challenged,"
said Mr. Greenberg.It is the latest challenge for the Chinese
government, which has faced everything from protests along much of the
Olympic torch route to the resignation of popular American film director
Steven Spielberg as artistic adviser for the Games' opening and closing
ceremonies.

Write to Stephanie Kang at stephanie.kang@wsj.com and Christopher Rhoads
at christopher.rhoads@wsj.com
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