Memorial for 1972 Israeli Athletes Held at Trafalgar Square Ahead of Opening Ceremonies
As the opening ceremonies are set to get underway later this evening in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, around 400 people gathered in Trafalgar Square to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the brutal killing of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Games in Munich.
The event was organized by the British Israel Coalition and was “a response to the International Olympic Committee’s sustained refusal to include a minute of silence in the opening ceremony due to be held tonight,” according to a statement released by the group early Friday.
An international drive to hold a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies in honor of the slain Israelis was rebuffed by the IOC on numerous occasions, including Wednesday night when two widows of murdered Israeli team members from the 1972 Games met with IOC President Jacques Rogge.
“We wanted to do this because it was right to take a public stand,” Ari Soffer, Director of the British Israel Coalition, told The Algemeiner. “The majority were definitely British but there were quite a lot of people involved – Americans, Canadians, a Korean group. They saw the event and expressed interest.”
The BIC is a grassroots movement, which Soffer describes as “a pluralistic group with a pro-Israel initiative.”
We’re a “pan-political, pan-religious [group]. It’s not Jewish, it’s not Christian. We have membership across the religious and political spectrum and our mission is to fight the delegitimization of Israel in the United Kingdom…and at the same time, basically be the British voice for Israel in a proactive way.”
Attendees inside Trafalgar Square recited the Jewish prayer, Kaddish, while the national anthems of Britain and Israel were performed as well.