May 03

Written by Tang Buxi, May 2nd, 2008

This past week, leaders of the American Jewish community called upon Jewish athletes and tourists around the world, as well as U.S. President George Bush, to boycott the Beijing Olympics (more, more). They claim their activism is motivated by the Chinese governments’ relationship with Muslim nations like Syria and Iran, as well as claims of Chinese-funded genocide in Darfur. This wasn’t just an abstract media statement; I’ve seen personal evidence of grass-roots efforts from local Jewish communities calling on American Jews to support this boycott with more direct political action.

In recent years, discussion of Jews and Judism has become something of a “third rail” in the Western world. It’s a highly controversial issue that makes intelligent discussion nearly impossible, and certainly very dangerous. Touch the issue from the wrong angle, and you risk (intellectual death). This is understandable. Few peoples in recent memory have legitimately faced the risk of “genocide”, the violent extermination of an entire people on the basis of race and religion. In even trivial remarks, we can imagine the echoes of dangerous anti-Semitic extremism.

However, this is an important topic that can’t be left aside. I’m going to make an effort to explain why the American Jewish community’s stance on this is wrong, and why their policy might ultimately prove counter-productive.

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