There are times when even keeping silent is deemed a political “provocation.” That appears to be the view of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which has refused to hold even a short moment of silence to honor the Israeli team murdered at the 1972 Olympic games. It might offend someone.
So on the fortieth anniversary of the Olympic massacre of 1972, when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches, the IOC broke the Olympic record for stupidity and obtuseness by again refusing a moment of silence as “inappropriate.”
It is strange that treating Jews as human beings or Israel as a real state is somehow seen as offensive or inappropriate. And not just at the Olympics.
The IOC is not so different from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which steadfastly opposed the use of the red Star of David as a symbol for Israel’s paramedics, even though it had accepted a red crescent for Arab countries and a red crescent-and-lion for Iran.
“We cannot just let everybody do whatever they want,” an ICRC spokeswoman once told me when I visited their headquarters in Geneva.
Behind all the blather, the message was quite simple: Somehow, the blood of Israelis was not quite red enough for the ICRC.
Not too long ago there were reports in the British press that some British schools did not want to offend Muslim children by including mention of the Holocaust in their lessons. So, sometimes they do observe moments of silence in Britain.
This is not just a symbolic problem. It is real problem in the war against tyrants and terrorists, and even American leaders—Republican and Democrat—are guilty.
When Israel was attacked by Saddam Hussein in 1991, with rockets landing in Tel Aviv, President George H. W. Bush and Secretary of state James Baker told Israel the US would block an Israeli retaliation because such an act (though clearly justified) would rupture—claimed Bush-Baker—the US-led coalition fighting Saddam.
Though there was no real proof, Bush and Baker said that if Israel defended itself, this would offend Arab states in the anti-Saddam coalition, and they would pull out.
This view was unmasked as idiotic in the 2006-8 conflicts with Hizballah and Hamas, when many Arab leaders actually prayed Israel would seriously hurt the Iran-supported forces of Hamas and Hizballah.
Still, the view persists in high Western circles—the IOC in London, the ICRC in Geneva, the UN in New York, or policy-makers in Washington—that treating Jews like human beings or Israel as a member of the community of nations is taboo. Mere mention of Jews or Israelis as victims is enough to stop passage of any UN resolution.
This nonsensical policy approach has now been embraced by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They backed Turkey’s demand to ban Israel from NATO exercises and two counter-terror conferences. Instead of calling the Turkish bluff, they empowered it. Instead of fighting terror, they say, “make nice.”
Indeed, Secretary Clinton reportedly has suggested that Israel apologize to Turkey for Israel’s killing of several Turkish thugs who were trying to run an Israeli arms blockade around Gaza. In other words, Clinton is telling the Israelis to apologize to an Islamist government which has aided groups that aid Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
One thing is for sure, if the Olympics ever have a competition for hypocrisy, there are a few Western teams that have a good shot at the gold medal.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University.