The Olympics Can’t Spare a Minute for Munich Massacre

May 25, 2012 10:07 am 0 comments

Giant Olympic Rings at St Pancras International station. Photo: wiki commons.

Just one minute! That’s all Israel is asking for. Just one minute of silence at the London Olympics to commemorate the 11 members of the Israeli team murdered by terrorists at the ’72 Munich Olympics. But this simple request has been rejected by the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

In September 1972, eight members of Yasser Arafat’s notorious Black September terror group broke into the athletes village in Munich and attacked the Israelis.

Two of the athletes were immediately killed and nine were taken hostage. They were executed by the Palestinian terrorists after the German police bungled a rescue attempt. All of this was covered by the international media.

Willi Daume, president of the Munich Olympics Organizing Committee requested the IOC to cancel the remainder of the Games as a symbol of respect to the murdered Israelis. But IOC President at that time, Avery Brundage, refused. An American Nazi sympathizer, Brundage, who only a year earlier declared that Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Games were “the finest in modern history” — insisted that “the Games must go on.” And so they did.

The families of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes, led by Ankie Spitzer and Illana Romano (the widows of fencing coach Andre Spitzer and weightlifter Yossef Romano, respectively) have requested a minute of silence at the opening ceremony of each Olympics since the ’76 Montreal Games. Just a minute of silence to convey respect and to promote peace. Each time though, their request has been turned down by the IOC.

This year, which marks the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre, Ankie and Ilana have started an internet petition, noting that a minute of silence “is a fitting tribute for athletes who lost their lives on the Olympic stage. Moreover, [it will] “clearly say to the world that what happened in 1972 can never happen again.”

Ankie’s and Illana’s persistent fight has now been taken up by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who made a formal request to the IOC to hold a minute’s silence to commemorate the slain Israeli athletes, that will send an unequivocal and public message to the world that the IOC stands against hatred and violence.

This was the first time the Government of Israel has made a formal request to the IOC to hold a minute’s silence to remember and remind the world of the 1972 massacre. But Israel’s request was promptly denied.

In his response to Ayalon last week, IOC President Jacques Rogge justified his rejection, saying that the IOC had already “officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions.” Yet, the record shows that the IOC has never held an official public commemoration.

Rogge adds that “[p]lease rest assured that, within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in 1972 will never fade away” and that the IOC “strongly sympathise with the victims’ families.” His actions, however, show no sympathy and a biased attitude toward Israel.

Only two years ago, during the Vancouver Olympics, the IOC held a public minute of silence during the opening ceremony for Georgian luge racer Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a tragic training accident only days prior to the start of the Games. Rogge himself presided over the tribute.

Calling Rogge’s response “very disappointing” and “unacceptable,” Ayalon has refused to let the issue rest and has turned to social media to campaign for the reversal of the IOC decision.

Under the banner “Just One Minute,” Ayalon has released a one minute video — the same amount of time Israel is seeking from the IOC to “stop and remember.” He has also created a facebook page, urged people to sign Spitzer & Romano’s petition and started a twitter trend under the hashtag #justoneminute.

Ayalon’s campaign appears to be gathering public support around the world. In the U.S., House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has released a statement, and Congressman Eliot Engel and Congresswoman Nita Lowey have introduced a House Resolution calling on the IOC to commemorate the Munich 11 during the London Games opening ceremony. A similar motion has been filed in the British Parliament.

The eleven athletes were murdered in Munich specifically because they were Israelis. But, the IOC and Jacques Rogge have refused to acknowledge that this was also an assault on the very embodiment of the Olympic spirit — “to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced without discrimination.”

This was not only an Israeli tragedy, but as Danny Ayalon noted, a tragedy “within the family of nations.” Ayalon further argued that keeping a minute of silence to commemorate the slain Israelis is the basic obligation of the Olympic community towards its athletes.

With an official slogan “Inspire a Generation,” one would hope that the inspiration from the London Olympics would lead to less violence and more peace.

The 2012 Olympics will last seventeen days. That is 408 hours and 24,480 minutes. If the IOC is serious about taking a stand against hatred and terrorism and respecting the memory of the slain Israeli athletes, it must incorporate “just one minute” into the opening ceremony.

Follow Arsen Ostrovsky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ArsenOstrovsky

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.