Voice of the Jewish News: Winter of discontent
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Voice of the Jewish News: Winter of discontent

This is round two of British Jews’ fight for the Uyghurs, and this will be waged in boardrooms and on the high street

A woman seen shouting slogans while holding a placard during a protest against the Chinese policies in Xinjiang.
A woman seen shouting slogans while holding a placard during a protest against the Chinese policies in Xinjiang.

Britain’s Jewish community is fighting a bitter fight for a people who live thousands of miles away, who worship a different God, who speak a different language and few of us had heard of only five years ago. We are fighting for Uyghur Muslims in north-west China, and that fight took a dramatic turn this week.

As we reveal, the Chief Rabbi has thrown his influence behind a strategic shift that is fast gaining momentum: the push to press those companies propping up the next Winter Olympics, due to be held in February in Beijing. The aim is for them to withdraw their support and take a stand against the persecution.

In many ways, this is round two of British Jews’ fight for the Uyghurs, and this round will be waged in boardrooms and on the high street. Round one was fought in Parliament, where a narrow defeat only adds to a feeling of Jewish collective determination.

The push then had been for MPs to vote to give High Court judges the power to deem a foreign state to be committing genocide, with repercussions for bilateral trade if it did. The government pulled out all the stops to prevent it, fearing the financial implications. In other words, it boiled down to money.

Companies – in particular, those sponsoring the Beijing Olympics – live or die by branding, so it is a high-risk strategy to nail their brand’s colours to the mast of a regime that is forcing millions through vast camps, systematising torture and forced sterilisation, shaving hair, removing names, packing dozens to a cell, transporting thousands in cattle carts, and quietly killing a people’s spirit and identity.

Where MPs failed, readers can succeed. Western firms propping up a Beijing propaganda offensive cannot remain insensitive to customers. Let’s make our voices heard, on behalf of a people whose silence is being enforced.

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