The Anti-Defamation League rejected a call for Jewish tourists to boycott the Beijing Olympics.
The group’s statement Thursday came a day after 185 Jewish leaders, mostly clergy representing the major movements, called on Jews not to attend the Olympics. The leaders cited China’s role in propping up the Sudan regime while the genocide continues in Sudan’s Darfur region, as well as repression in Tibet.
The ADL also said their comparisons with the 1936 Berlin games were inappropriate.
“While there is no doubt that China has an extremely poor human rights record and that its actions in Tibet and Sudan are to be condemned,” the ADL statement said, “we believe that asking the Jewish community to engage in a boycott of the games could be counterproductive and would not produce any tangible result.”
Israel enjoys trade relations with China and, with the United States, has scored modest successes recently in persuading China to help isolate Iran until the Islamic Republic ends its suspected nuclear weapons program.
Those calling for a boycott had emphasized in their statement that they were not including athletes or governments. They drew parallels to the rejection in 1936 of Jewish calls for a boycott of the Berlin Olympics, and how those Games helped whitewash the Nazis and deaden world awareness of German atrocities. They were careful, however, to say they were not equating China’s policies with Nazism.
The ADL rejected such parallels.
“We believe that these comparisons are inappropriate,” its statement said. “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.”