Leaders call on Jews to boycott Beijing


Leading Jewish rabbis and lay leaders called on Jewish tourists not to attend the Olympic Games.

More than 175 Jewish leaders, including the heads of the Reform and Conservative movements, signed the appeal released Wednesday. It was initiated by two New York-area Orthodox rabbis, Irving “Yitz” Greenberg and Haskell Lookstein, after they learned that Beijing had set up a kosher kitchen to accommodate Jewish tourists.

“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,” the statement says. “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 timed ahead of Yom Hashoah commemorations Thursday. One of the signatories, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union of Reform Judaism, said the call targeted tourists only and that the organizers did not expect Jewish athletes or Israeli officials to boycott the games.

“This is a moral appeal to Jewish individuals around the world,” Yoffie told JTA.

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