This is the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics by Palestinian terrorists. Both Romney and Obama have joined the global campaign calling for a moment of silence to honor the victims.
But because it was Jewish blood that was spilled, and the perpetrators are favorite pets of European anti-Semites, there will be no moment of silence to remember the victims.
Rob Levine writes at The Baltimore Sun:
In September 1972, the world watched in disbelief as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by the Palestinian terrorist organization “Black September” at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich. The story, and Israel’s decade-long retaliation, have been captured in countless movies, books and miniseries.
Germany had planned to show a new face to the world. The 1972 games were to be the antithesis of Hitler’s Olympics. They were informally called “The Carefree Games.” As a result, security was decidedly lax. On Sept. 4, with the aid of unwitting Canadian athletes, the terrorists scaled the fence of the Olympic Village and raided the Israeli compound. Over the course of the next 36 hours, Black September held the world’s attention, demanding the release of 234 Palestinian prisoners. They attempted to flee to Egypt with their hostages. An unprepared German security force botched rescue efforts at several junctures, and ultimately 11 athletes and trainers perished at the hands of the terrorists.
The games went on at the insistence of the International Olympic Committee leader, Avery Brundage, a decision that, while generally supported at the time, ultimately marred his legacy. Many athletes opted out in solidarity. Mark Spitz, who had already competed in all of his events, left prior to the closing ceremony. A brief memorial service was held before a soccer match between Hungary and West Germany, in which Brundage spoke passionately about the integrity of the games and made little reference to the murdered Israelis. In addition, participating countries were invited, but not required, to fly their stadium flag at half staff.
This was the last time that the IOC commemorated the loss at an Olympic Games.
Read more at The Baltimore Sun
Rabbi Shraga Simmons observes:
Over the past 40 years, the bereaved families have expectantly waited for expressions of remorse and responsibility from German officials. “If they would only say to us, ‘Look, we tried, we didn’t know what we were doing, we didn’t mean for what happened to happen, we’re sorry’ – that would be the end of it,” widow Ankie Spitzer told Aish.com. “But they’ve never even said that.”
The victims’ families have made one specific request of the Olympic Committee: To hold a moment of silence at the Opening Ceremonies. The purpose is to acknowledge that this horrific slaughter is grieved not by Israel alone, but by the entire community of nations.
“Silence is a fitting tribute,” says Spitzer. “Silence contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs, and requires no understanding of language to interpret.” People are welcome to reflect, pray, and remember the athletes in their own way.
This, the families say, would provide much-needed closure.
Soon after the massacre, Spitzer wrote her first letter to the Olympic Committee. She did not ask “if” a commemoration would be held at the 1976 Montreal Games, but rather “what.” She simply assumed that the Olympic Committee would be doing something.
The letter went unanswered.
Year after year, Spitzer pressed her case, attending every Summer Olympics (except Moscow 1980), never giving up. “I have no political or religious agenda. Our message is not one of hatred or revenge. It’s a positive message of remembrance and strengthening the Olympic ideals,”Spitzer says. “Forty years is long enough to wait.”
In recent months, the power of the Internet has spread the story and over 100,000 people from 155 different countries have signed a petition demanding this moment of silence. The U.S. Congress, Canadian Parliament, German Bundestag, Australian House of Representatives and others have all passed unanimous resolutions reiterating this very reasonable demand. President Barack Obama has joined the call as well. But the Olympic Committee has stubbornly refused – ostensibly on the grounds it would “politicize the Olympics.”
To his great credit, Bob Costas of NBC Sports, has promised his own “minute of silence” at the opening ceremonies – perhaps turning off his broadcasting microphone when the Israeli delegation enters.
And yet, with this very refusal the Olympics are being politicized. Olympic officials have said that if an official tribute were to take place, all Arab delegations (including those oil-rich states which provide Olympic funding) would quit the Olympics.
In other words, rather than raise the Olympic ideal above politics, the Olympic committee is capitulating to anti-Semitic forces. Just like another international body, the United Nations, the Olympic movement is being shamefully hijacked by a bloc of Arab, Muslim and dictatorial Third World forces who undermine the trust and goodwill upon which the Olympics has always stood.
Olympic officials told Spitzer that their “hands were tied” by these political considerations. “No,” Spitzer says she responded, “my husband’s hands were tied, not yours.”
Hijacking the Games
This is a crucial moment where the Olympic committee needs to stand up and prevent its descent into folly. This is not an internal Israeli matter, nor about political posturing or revenge. It is about doing justice to the memory of 11 men who came in peace and went home in coffins. The victims were killed not on the streets of Tel Aviv, nor accidental tourists at Munich. Rather they were members of the Olympic family, murdered inside the Olympic village as participants in the Games. It was an onslaught against the entire Olympic ideal.
I do not cast the charge of “anti-Semitism” lightly. If the slain athletes had been American, British, or Palestinian for that matter, does anyone doubt that the Olympic Committee would hold a fitting memorial tribute? Why did the opening ceremonies include mentions of the Bosnian War in 1996, and the 2002 Games opened with a minute of silence for victims of 9/11? Why, when it comes to Israel, does all the talk about “brotherhood” and “unity” seem to fall by the wayside?
Says Spitzer: “After listening to all the lame excuses for 40 years, I can only come to one conclusion: It is anti-Israel, anti-Jewish discrimination.”
The Olympic committee has a longstanding reputation for hypocrisy and corruption. It was this same Avery Brundage who exhibited anti-Semitism the previous time the Olympics were held on German soil. Two years prior to the 1936 Berlin Games, Brundage traveled to meet with German government officials to discuss protocol at the Games. Upon his return, he reported: “I was given positive assurance… that there will be no discrimination against Jews. You can’t ask more than that and I think the guarantee will be fulfilled.” Yet when push came to shove, it was Brundage himself who appeased Hitler and removed the two Jewish athletes from the American lineup.
In recent years we’ve seen this “tolerance for anti-Semitism” as well: At the 2004 Olympics (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing), Iran ordered its athletes not to compete against Israelis. The Olympic Committee’s disciplinary response? Nothing.
The nightmare of Munich affected me deeply. Four years later, the 1976 Summer Olympics were held in Montreal, not far from my home in western New York. In a dream come true, my parents took me to an Olympic soccer match featuring the Israeli national team. We cheered wildly for our “home team.” But things could never be the same.
When the Israeli team entered Montreal stadium for those Opening Ceremonies, the Israeli national flag was adorned with a black ribbon. To me, that black ribbon represented more than the memory of the Munich 11. It spoke of the stark reality of the world’s repeated failure to stand up when Jews are being threatened. Whether a refusal to bomb the railroad tracks to Auschwitz; a reluctance to stop the Iranian nuclear program; the utter failure to protect Israeli athletes when Jewish blood was shed once again on German soil; the inability to muster even one minute of silence in their memory.
For 2,000 years of exile, the Jewish people have suffered repeated disdain in the eyes of the nations. How apt that the opening ceremonies in London will be taking place this Friday night – on Tisha B’Av, the very day in Jewish history which marks the destruction of our unifying focus, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Some things never change. For we are the eternal nation… that dwells alone.
David Berger (weightlifter)
Ze’ev Friedman (weightlifter)
Yossef Gutfreund (wrestling referee)
Eliezer Halfin (wrestler)
Yossef Romano (weightlifter)
Amitzur Shapira (track coach)
Kehat Shorr (shooting coach)
Mark Slavin (wrestler)
Andre Spitzer (fencing coach)
Yakov Springer (weightlifting judge)
Moshe Weinberg (wrestling coach)
Dave D’Alessandro of the Star-Ledger opines:
It’s time for the International Olympic Committee to reverse a 40-year mistake.
It’s time to honor the memories of those murdered at Munich during the ’72 Games with a minute of silence Friday night at these Opening Ceremonies.
And it’s time to stop treating this like a political statement, and call it for what it is: a solemn observance of the loss of 11 men, athletes and coaches who went to Germany in the spirit of competition and left in boxes.
[…] “The families of the Munich 11 need this. We all need this. But every four years we have received a different excuse,” Gold said. “There are world leaders asking for this. There are 100,000 people from every religion and nationality. No one can understand how the IOC can be so stubborn.”
Actually, it’s easy to understand anyone’s actions when money is involved. For years, the IOC’s refusal to commemorate the Munich 11 was assumed to be based on pressure from Arab nations, a huge financier of the Games. ESPN found the proof, in the form of minutes from a meeting of the 2000 Sydney planning committee, that said the IOC received boycott threats “from several Arab Olympic committees” if the Israeli dead were honored in any manner.
Rogge has offered nothing but platitudes and dodges, such as this one from Tuesday:
“We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” he said.
In other words, it can’t happen when anyone is actually paying attention, so the IOC president had his own moment of silence at the Olympic village with — this is no joke — about 100 people in the room.
Read more at NJ.com
Jen Floyd Engel writes at Fox Sports:
I am not ashamed to admit to being scared to cover this Olympics for security reasons. The UK has had its share of homegrown terrorists, has had very publicized problems with producing adequate security personnel (so much so that extra British military members have been summoned), and then came news via Sunday’s paper in London that “a terrorist believed to have been involved in a horrendous suicide bomb attack in Bulgaria last week has emerged as one of the biggest security threats to the Olympics.” And with that, it is impossible not to think back 40 years, to Munich.
[…] Fear has become an Olympic sport nowadays. The Olympic Village and Olympic Park look like what I imagine the Green Zone in Iraq looks like, a series of gates and strongholds and walls meant to minimize the loss of life if the worst should happen. There are snipers on the tops of buildings and bomb-sniffing dogs and so many things that do not fit with the atmosphere Rogge envisions for an Olympics.
This is not how things should be. This is how they are. And yet into this ugly reality the Israeli delegation will march Friday, helping give the opening ceremony the festive feel Rogge says supercedes a minute of silence there. There are 38 of them with courage enough to come to London, to represent their country even through they most surely are targets, even though some countries will withdraw from events rather than compete against them, even after what happened 40 years ago to their fellow countrymen.
Their courage does not deserve Rogge’s cowardice, or ours. The very least we can give them in return is a minute on the world’s biggest stage.
Why the IOC will never memorialize the ’72 Munich massacre
Olympic Crimes Against Israel–and Common Sense
Olympics have no excuse for ignoring the Munich massacre
Palestinian Authority Thanks Olympic Committee For Refusing To Allow Minute of Silence For Victims of Munich Massacre