Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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...

  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israelis Venture to Cleveland for NBA Finals

    Israelis Venture to Cleveland for NBA Finals

    JNS.org – The people who sat in seats one and two of row 12, section 120 at Quicken Loans Arena during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night weren’t your ordinary Cleveland Cavaliers fans. Tomer Hulli and his father, Eli, made the trip from Israel to attend games 3 and 4 in Cleveland. Tomer, who lives in Tzur Moshe, a 25-minute drive north of Tel Aviv, has been playing basketball since he was 5. Hulli said he didn’t plan this […]

    Read more →