Ending of the Olympic Torch relay at Olympics in Nazi Germany, 1936.With the Festival of Freedom in a few days, I cannot help but think of the people in Tibet, Burma, Darfur*, the child laborers, the victims of the totalitarian regime which imprisons and tortures dissenters. China is one of the world’s leading human rights abusers. Keep up the pressure on China and companies that are backing the Olympics. Keep up pressure on our politicians to act. Keep up pressure on the Olympic Torch as it makes it way around the globe as a way of focusing the world’s attention of the violence that China commits at home and abroad. And put out the Torch.

The route of the Olympic Torch is being constantly adjusted today to avoid the thousands of protesters on the streets of SF. They had to cut short the route. Hundreds of policemen wielding long batons are keeping protesters off the street. The large rally at the end of the route will have to do without the torch. It has been canceled. Of course, thousands of pro-Chinese protesters are also along the route, at times scuffling with pro-Tibet protesters.

One of the symbols of the torch relay is especially repugnant for me. There is this team of blue-clad Chinese runners that accompany the torch that are in fact security guards with paramilitary training. They are violent. As they go through the streets of SF I noticed they continued their violent ways as in London and Paris. They are blocking, pushing protesters, and not athletes in any sense. The Times in London reports:

China’s blue-clad flame attendants, whose aggressive methods of safeguarding the Olympic torch have provoked international outcry, are paramilitary police from a force spun off from the country’s army. The squad of 30 young men from the police academy that turns out the cream of the paramilitary security force has the job at home of ensuring riot control, domestic stability and the protection of diplomats.

The entire torch ceremony was created by Nazis for the 1936 Olympics. The propaganda department of Nazi Germany created a route through countries they would eventually conquer after 1939, and ended at the Nazi stadium in front of huge swastikas.

The Olympic Torch relay started with a totalitarian regime in Nazi Germany in 1936, and it should end now in 2008 as it is being used for propaganda by another totalitarian regime. The “blue-shirts” protecting the Olympic Torch, remind me of the “brown shirts” Nazi thugs on the streets of Germany, the US, and Britain.

Put out the Torch, its parade through free societies is a mockery.

*China is a major backer of the government in Sudan.

About the author

Rabbi Yonah

69 Comments

  • “The entire torch ceremony was created by Nazis for the 1936 Olympics.”

    sorry, but that statement is simply not true as you write it. your statement should read: “The modern torch relay was introduced by a Nazi Commander named Carl Diem for the 1936 Olympics.”

    the torch and the lighting of the olympic fire itself (without the relaying in different countries) was brought back to the olympics in the 1928 summer olympics in Amsterdam.

    but anyway, what you wrote is totally right. get rid of the relaying of the flame, since has been politically used and abused too many times already and is has a bad history.

  • Good post. Without in any way looking to get the Beijing regime off the hook, the IOC has only itself to blame for this burgeoning fiasco. The PRC leopard hasn’t changed its spots since the IOC awarded it the games.

  • themicah: idiotic post dude.

    it’s not “a” torch ceremony that’s offensive, and “as Jews” has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    it’s China parading around the world with the thing on some look-at-me shit while occupying Tibet and propping up nasty regimes in Burma, Sudan and N Korea back home.

    a Jew can express indignation and outrage without it having ANYTHING to do with “Palestine” you know. I know it’s complicated, but try to grasp the complexities of the world around you man.

  • No, no, he means the Olympic torch thing is an old Greek religious ceremony from two thousand years ago (pre-Christian). He means we are not Hellenists (Greek culture). We as Hebrews are the opposite, and were already, way back then. They liked nude gymnasia, we didn’t. They liked the plastic arts, and sculpture, and we don’t make images. That kind of thing. That’s all he meant. A historical reference to a very distant past. He has a sensitivity to alien religious ritual, although today it’s just the Olympic committee. He wasn’t talking about the Middle East at all. Happy Pesach.

  • The Olympics is a symbol of world unity. With athletes representing their countries without big prize money.

    The Olympic flag, with its 5 different-colored interlocking rings, for the 5 continents and the Olympic torch, representing the fire stolen by Prometheus from Zeus, for the use of all man…. are symbols that should be propagated.

    I find it very strange that liberals – who claim to love human brotherhood, unity and teamwork – have a problem with something like the Olympic Flame relay.

    I think its peculiar that they are so intolerant of the Chinese government….. which for the last 50 years has done all the things they want the American government to do. They’ve taken over the evil private industry and provided jobs for everyone, healthcare, education….. etc.

    And this is the appreciation that is shown for China? Wow.

  • Adam, I watched a documentary the other day that was about everyday life of older Chinese people outside the big cities. China does not provide healthcare for them as healthcare is tied to working in a state-run factory. The one-child-policy also still is in effect, which means that women pregnant with their second child can be forced to an abortion (= somebody pulling the fetus out of their uterus in the least professional manner while the woman’s fully conscious). The list of atrocities can be continued.

    JM, nudity (even public) was pretty common in Jewish everyday life (the fun King David had 😉 )until Jews gradually took on the views of public nudity held by their Christian and Muslim surroundings. Particularly American Puritanism has encouraged hostility towards public nudity, while displaying nudity has always been a major theme of Jewish artwork (hence the popular accusation in the 1920s to 1940s that Jewish artists were responsible for moral decay). Hellenism wasn’t so much opposed as the assumed to be typical Jewish dialectics merely is a copy of Socratelian dialogues; there’s evidence galore that by the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, the common people of Judea and its surroundings spoke Greek, not Hebrew. Hebrew remained the language of liturgy confined to the Temple, hence the priests. Linguists make a valid point when they say that it was only due to the diaspora situation that Hebrew survived as it served as a means of cultural identification.

    Ultimately, the modern Olympics seem all about sponsors = money to me. In addition, nobody wants to offend China (cheap labour is great, isn’t it?) and its state-run industries (no matter that [fake] products may actually pose health risks). The European Council made a good move yesterday in officially condemning China’s activities in Tibet and suggesting a boycott of the Olympic games.

  • Adam: Liberals also want to harvest organs from slain prisoners, suppress free speech, kill dissidents, reinstate the death penalty, pollute the lungs of our citizens for the sake of the economy, etc. Really, we have a ways to go to emulate the Chinese model. And how were those Moscow Olympics? Wasn’t a Republican President in office when the evil empire was shut out?

  • Until Deng decided that to get rich is glorious, Communist control of the economy resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people (see, e.g., the Great Leap Forward). Even today, poverty and inequality is prevalent, esp. in rural areas. A socialist paradise it’s not, though admittedly the PRC compares favorably to Burma or DR Congo.

  • Froylein, you are forgetting that the aim of Jewish discussion is to discover what G-d wants us to do. That was not the aim of Socrates. You also forget in the year 1 CE, Judaism was already quite old. As for Islam … that arrived only at the time of Charlemagne, which was much later.

    It is curious to say “look how the old man takes after his little grandson! They look so alike!” It is much more reasonable to say, “Look how the younger one resembles the old one!”. Did the young bequeath to the old, or the old to the young? Common sense says the latter. We know Hebrew is twice Latin’s age. We know Hebrew is twice Greek’s age. So who gave to whom?

    I am not anti-Olympics. It’s a nice ideal. I like sport, but only for fun, health, exercise, pleasure, comraderie, joy. NOT for “personal best”. Personal Best effort should be invested in thinking. That is what makes me a Jew, not a Greek. You are an interesting man, Socrates, but I can’t eat at your table. Your food is treif. No offense. You are still studied even today, but what I am about is still PRACTISED, not just studied. No temples to Zeus around now. But, your art is very pretty. No, you weren’t vulgar. I recognize that. You “got it”. You had grandeur and refinement. But you are history.

    I had to put Rootless Cosmo straight, as he did not understand the Rabbi’s point and was angry about nothing.

    Shabbat Shalom to all.

  • ck: It appears to me, that you think that I believe that we shouldn’t boycott…. which isn’t true.

    I think we should at least boycott the opening ceremonies. I believe that the world should not ignore China’s invasion of Tibet and oppression of the Tibetan people. I think its great that people are rallying, putting out the torch, putting up signs, and trying to pressure the Chinese government. I think its FANTASTIC.

    The thing that I want to point out, is that liberals, are so intollerant, as to protest and try to force their views on another country.

    So many times I’ve heard liberals say, “Democracy isn’t for everyone. Our system works for us, but other countries should be able to have their systems too” when refering to Iraq or wanting to lift sanctions on Cuba.

    The Chinese system is one of oppression for its citizens…. but is nowhere near as bad is Iraq was. Now American liberals want to force their values and ideas on China.

    Here’s an interesting article about Media Censorship in China.
    http://www.cfr.org/publication/11515/

  • One interesting point: The idea to protest China’s human rights abuses by boycotting the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, but still letting our sportsmen play in the games, is kinda like condemning prostitution by having sex with a dirty whore, but skipping the foreplay.

  • The Games themselves could contribute to openness and further expose ordinary Chinese to heterodox ideas, which is all to the good.

  • That’s why the Chinese have a one-child policy. Skip foreplay, a Great Leap Forward and you’re done.

  • Rumour has it that Chinese men aren’t too well-endowed, but I haven’t got any first-hand experience to confirm this sentiment or whatnot.

  • ck – No. Jimmy Carter ( a Democrat) was President in 1980, when we boycotted the Olympics in Moscow.

    Adam – While you’re citing the Olympic symbolism nicely, let’s talk about what the Olympics really is: a huge business. The IOC is a huge international business that awards contracts to cities that want to reap millions of dollars in tourism profits. They can use all of the advertising gimmicks … er, … symbolism that they want, but let’s call a spade a spade.

    It’s a big version of the World Cup, World Series, or SuperBowl.

  • “Rumour has it that Chinese men aren’t too well-endowed, but I haven’t got any first-hand experience to confirm this sentiment or whatnot.”
    Completely false, speaking from firsthand experience. Just another stereotype endorsed by insecure and sexually unsatisfying fratboys.
    You are correct about seniors in China being denied healthcare, though. Not that it’s much better here in the U.S. There’s also no anti-age-discrimination policy for the credit card companies, so most senior citizens are denied. But then nobody’s cracking down on the predatory lending practices in this country either.
    As for the whole Olympic Games issue, while I agree China’s human rights abuses should be addressed (as well as other countries’, ahem) I find it odd who’s doing the finger-pointing, and how.

  • Sheela, we don’t have fratboys where I live, and even though I haven’t got experiences with each and any of my former fellow students, I can tell that – according to their respective girlfriends – they could not be labelled sexually unsatisfying, and I don’t consider them insecure about their sexuality either. Gender relationships are way more relaxed in Germany than in the US. The information on the average size of the genitalia of Chinese men was provided by several female American exchange students though.
    As for China, I find it odd that all those allegedly peace-loving states and state-like territories have remained conveniently quiet on the issue.

  • Obviously, Froylein’s girlfriends are hanging out with the wrong Asian men, endowment wise, while Sheela is hanging out with the better, um, qualified Asian men.

    It’s a good thing nobody has a chance to consider endowment size prior to dating so we can all focus on each other’s eyes.

    Ah yes, bringing together two women quibbling about penis size. They don’t call me Middle for nothing. 😉

  • Subpar penis size is the sort of issue, I think, that only those who are really there, who know and deal with that experience as part of their daily lives, are entitled to address.

    Therefore, I’m unable to contribute to this discussion.

  • Och Middle, if there’s any chance of knowing beforehand, your prospective date is in in the know. Trust me. 🙂

    Tom, I’ve got ck’s permission to bring up such topics. 🙂

  • Froylein, if you’re ever in the mood let me know, maybe I can hook you up with one of my friends. 😉
    I agree about the convenient silence of some alleged “peace lovers”, but on the other hand, I also find it mind-boggling that (at least here in the U.S.) the N.Y. Philharmonic were considered heroes for performing in N. Korea (improving relations & whatnot), and now three months later we want to boycott the Beijing Olympics.
    I’m not arguing for or against per se, but a little consistency would be nice. Oh well, maybe that’s why I’m not in politics.

  • Sheela, thanks for the offer, but I’m taken (and I’ll refrain from boasting here 😉 ).
    I think rather than a boycott of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games, a boycott of the economy of an allegedly Communist state – as I used to think was the U.S.’ policy on trade with any Communist state – would prove way more effective, but at the same time inhumane as it would immediately affect the livelihoods of the low-income workers in China rather than the big political heads.

  • Well, sheela, let’s see…. we could refuse to have anything whatever to do (no politics, no music, no athletes etc.) with any of the following: China, North Korea, Zimbabwe, the Palestinian Authority, Russia, Belarus, Iran, Myanmar, Venezuela, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Serbs living in Serbia, Serbs living in Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Croatia, Kyrghizstan, Cuba, the Somali rebels, the Basque rebels, the Georgian rebels, the Nagono-Karabakian rebels, the Transdniesterian rebels, Hamas, al-Qaeda, the Parti Quebecois, the Chechen terrorists, and (this just in) Nepal, where the Maoists just won elections over the weekend.

    If we completely avoid all of these people, the world will be made safe for human rights, freedom, American exports (cheap!), the men’s 400 meter relay, and Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

  • themicah: idiotic post dude.

    it’s not “a” torch ceremony that’s offensive, and “as Jews” has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    Oops. Guess I’m a complete idiot for responding to a post called “Put out the Olympic Torch” by a rabbi on a blog called Jewlicious highlighting the Nazi origins of torch ceremonies with a comment pointing out that the Maccabi Games typically open with a torch ceremony.

    it’s China parading around the world with the thing on some look-at-me shit while occupying Tibet and propping up nasty regimes in Burma, Sudan and N Korea back home.

    Yeah, because no other country in the history of the Olympics has used the torch ceremony as a way to build pride (aka nationalism) back home while engaging in bad deeds. China, Nazi Germany and the USSR are the most glaring examples, but just about every Olympic host country has had its faults. And just imagine if Israel were to play host.

    a Jew can express indignation and outrage without it having ANYTHING to do with “Palestine” you know. I know it’s complicated, but try to grasp the complexities of the world around you man.

    My point, which I suppose I could have elucidated a bit better rather than going the shorthand sarcasm route, was that I find it strange when rabidly pro-Israel folks come down hard on the Chinese–particularly on issues like “occupying Tibet” that are remarkably analogous to the situation in Israel.

    There are a ton of problems with the Chinese government. But before you go around lecturing people about the complexities of the world around us, I suggest that you take a little time and try to understand the Chinese perspective on this whole thing. Because I think you’ll find it difficult to criticize Chinese nationalism so strongly while maintaining the defend-Israel-at-all-costs position that you and Rabbi Yonah and other contributors to this blog seem to take. I’m not saying Chinese nationalism is beyond critique. But I find it very difficult to reconcile a no-holds-barred anti-Chinese-nationalism position with the kind of Zionism typically advocated by this blog (which, by the way, I agree with more often than I disagree with).

  • Hey, TheMicah, Rootlesscosmo is one of our occasional visitors just like you. We respect your point of view, his point of view and the points of views of those farther to the extremes than you both. So please don’t be offended by Jewlicious and its primary contributors, I don’t see any one of us attacking your points as idiotic.

    Having said that, I do disagree quite strongly with the notion that the China-Tibet situation is similar to the Israel-Palestinian or Israel-Arab situations. Israel is in an existential war; it is a small country facing larger and more populous countries; the situation in which it finds itself is the result of Arab aggression, not the other way around; it does not and dares not act with the same open violence that the Chinese as a 1.3 billion person nation with a veto on the UNSC and a critical role in the world economy can inflict on the Tibetans.

  • I thought Middle had fins?!

    As for the indicator, opinions vary. Some go by foot size, others by nose size, others again by the length of the ring finger; I’ve heard some will go by the size of your purse (wallet for Americans). They all lack scientfic evidence though. The only things I can tell you are that in a proportional adult body the foot length is almost the same as the distance between the (inside of) the elbow and the wrist and that studies have shown that the dance moves of men were considered more attractive if they, the men, had a higher level of testosterone from birth on, which also translated as the fingertips of the forefinger and the ringfinger ending on about the same level with the hand laying flat. It’s also been proved that males among ethnicities closer to the Equator on average have got larger genitalia as sperm needs a certain tempeature to be of reproductive value, so evolution apparently balances different environmental and body temperatures through different build (on average at least). Or as a buddy of mine in the US military put it, “Penis envy? I’ve got to shower with black dudes. You can’t compete with those.”

  • Man, I forgot to add Syria to my list! Although Nancy Pelosi turned Bashir around, didn’t she?

    Micah, did Israel annex the West Bank, round up and murder Muslim clerics by the thousands, and force the rest to sign a statement renouncing the Prophet Muhammed? I hadn’t heard.

  • froylein, when I was little my mom used to wonder why, instead of the lullabies and silly songs the other kids liked, I wanted to be put to bed to Curtis Mayfield and Teddy Pendergrass. Well, now we know.

  • Funny, now that you mention it, I’ve never liked lullabies either. I always wanted to be left alone so I could read (and often enough got into trouble for reading till 2am).

  • Tom, the nice thing about the Equator is that it’s pretty long (no pun intended). Since 65% of Ecuadorians are Mestizo (according to the World Factbook), there’s some definite Spanish influence, and, if all theories hold true, Native Americans migrated from Asia to America across the Bering Strait not too long ago in evolutionary terms. So the question should be: would Ecuadorian men compare to men of central Africa had humans settled in South America as long as they had in Africa?

  • @themiddle:

    For some reason I thought rootless was a contributor here. My mistake (this time, not a sarcastic “my mistake”).

    I consider myself a Zionist in that I believe there should be a Jewish state in the land of Israel, but I also consider statements like “the situation in which [Israel] finds itself is the result of Arab aggression, not the other way around” to be not entirely honest, and to be the kind of attitude that continues the cycle of violence.

    The truth is that there is a large Arab population who got screwed by the founding of the State of Israel. Who originated and who perpetuated exactly which part of the screwing is a very hard question to answer, but to place the blame entirely on the Arabs is certainly not accurate–nor is it a constructive way to work toward peace.

    Meanwhile, over in China there are hundreds of millions of people who believe in their hearts that Tibet is as inviolable a part of China as we believe Jerusalem is of Israel. Oh, and that Tibetans should be thankful for the (relative) degree of political freedom, economic opportunity and modernization (electricity, running water, education) their occupiers have brought them, and that the Tibetans who hang out in India should stop trying to stir up trouble in China proper. Which sounds an awful lot like another conflict we all hold near and dear…

    Obviously the parallels aren’t perfect (in addition to the incongruity you pointed out, Arafat was no 14th Dalai Lama, the Chinese and Israeli concepts of equality before the law are rather different, etc.). I therefore also tend to side more with the Israelis and the Tibetans in their respective conflicts (although not to the extent of supporting either the Israeli settler or Tibetan independence movements). But I think that any self-professed Zionist needs to very carefully consider both his Zionism and his anti-Chinese sentiment before jumping on the anti-Chinese bandwagon, because it’s very, very difficult to reconcile anti-colonialism and anti-nationalism with Zionism (I regularly struggle with the question whether I’m a hypocrite because of this).

    All the best.

  • Themicah, I fully stand by “the situation in which [Israel] finds itself is the result of Arab aggression, not the other way around.”

    That’s not to say the blame is exclusively Arab and that’s also not what I said even though you interpreted it that way.

    But to point out what I meant, I’ll just mention some examples. There wouldn’t even be a Jabotinsky or Herut if it weren’t for Arab attacks on civilians as early as the early 1920s. There wouldn’t have been a war in which the Palestinians left or were assisted in leaving were it not for Arab aggression in 1947 and 1948. Yes, there was fighting between both sides before that, but it evolved out of a need by the Yishuv to defend itself. If it weren’t for Nasser’s pronouncements and army movements in 1967, not to mention closure of the Straits to get that war going and as you know Jordan could have stayed out but attacked. Even today, when you look at Gaza, the only reason Israel is fighting in there is that they want to fight with Israel.

    There is no “cycle of violence.” If the Palestinians stopped with their war, Israel would treat them very differently. If Hizbullah didn’t attack last year and prior to that, Israel wouldn’t have gone into Lebanon. Israel is not in the business of going into war zones for fun and would much rather be considered a friend to the Arab nations than an enemy. When a rocket is launched from Gaza and after weeks of this the IDF responds, that isn’t a “cycle of violence.” There is only one party responsible.

    As for me, I believe any form of subjugation of others by any means is wrong. It is wrong for the Chinese and it is wrong for Israel. The problem for Israel is how to get out and as the Gaza experience has shown, there may not be any getting out.

  • “Well, sheela, let’s see…. we could refuse to have anything whatever to do (no politics, no music, no athletes etc.) with any of the following: China, North Korea, Zimbabwe, the Palestinian Authority, Russia, Belarus, Iran, Myanmar, Venezuela, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Serbs living in Serbia, Serbs living in Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Croatia, Kyrghizstan, Cuba, the Somali rebels, the Basque rebels, the Georgian rebels, the Nagono-Karabakian rebels, the Transdniesterian rebels, Hamas, al-Qaeda, the Parti Quebecois, the Chechen terrorists, and (this just in) Nepal, where the Maoists just won elections over the weekend.

    If we completely avoid all of these people, the world will be made safe for human rights, freedom, American exports (cheap!), the men’s 400 meter relay, and Dvorak’s New World Symphony.”

    Umm…ok… I’m trying to figure out if you got the point of what I was trying to say, or completely let it go over your head…

  • “You go over my head,
    And you linger like a haunting refrain
    And I find you spinning round in my brain
    Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne…”

  • Hmm, should have included an irony alert there…. Chet Baker does this song, too. Love Chet, but I think it’s a woman’s song all the way.

  • A woman dressed as a man doing a woman’s torch song…. Sounds very Berlin c. 1929 to me.

    Surely you don’t look like Elvis Costello, froylein?

  • Zelig was Jewish, right?…

    This post has officially been retitled ‘Put Out the Olympic Torch Song’.

  • Ferry’s one of the very few contemporary dudes who can actually do standards like this, imho. Queen Latifah, too. Sting? Ugh.

  • Middle’s your guy there. He loves accompanying his wife on her shoe-shopping trips.

  • themicah: I don’t epxress any “anti-Chinese sentiment” whatsoever.

    You made a flippant remark about how Zionists shouldn’t condemn nationalistic torch ceremonies and linked to what I believe to be a picture of a torch ceremony in Israel. In reality — as you surely know — the original post was not some principled stand against torch ceremonies, it was rather a well-grounded critique of China’s human rights record (look mom — no Israel reference!).

    you have taken pains here and elsewhere to drive home your Tibet Occupation/West Bank Occupation parallel and frankly no one is really buying it.

    your post was just another of your attempts to do this and I objected to the patent absurdity of it. that is all.

  • Just came across this by complete accident. I think themica is beginning to see the light, in a way. People like themiddle drive me to desperation. I’m referring to your discussion about occupied land bla bla..

  • Zayyat, at least you didn’t comment about my taste in shoes. Just so you know, I fully supported – and wrote about it extensively on this site – the departure of Israel from Gaza. I also supported – and to some degree still think it’s something that has to be done (though I admit I don’t exactly know how anymore) – Israel departing from most of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria.

    Having said that, it’s people like me who have been burned time and again by Palestinian actions. Those of us who believed fervently in Oslo and watched the Palestinians play Israel for fools in 2000 and 2001, and those of us who supported the Gaza evacuation only to see the rhetoric increase alongside attacks and rockets against Israel, can only conclude that we need to be both cynical and extremely careful about Palestinian intentions with respect to peace.

    You think Micah almost, sort of, in a way, kind of is approaching seeing the light. Does that mean that he hasn’t given you enough to satisfy you? Well, no wonder then that I disappoint you because all I want is a two state solution along the lines of what Israel offered at Taba and then all I want is for the Palestinians to live in peace with Israel side by side. If you have a problem with my views, then don’t worry too much about them. Simply change your views.

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