A couple of months ago I addressed the refusal of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hold a minute’s silence or some other kind of public ceremony in order to honour the memory of the 11 Israeli atheletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics by Palestinian terrorists.
Despite a massive PR campaign, facebook protests, mass petitions and enormous public pressure from the highest of places, e.g. US President Barack Obama, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Australian PM Julia Gillard, the request by the families of the slain athletes to hold one minute’s silence in their loved ones’ memory has been firmly and finally rejected by the IOC (via CNN):
The head of the International Olympics Committee again rejected calls for a moment of silenceduring the Games’ opening ceremony to honor Israeli Olympians killed in a terror attack at the 1972 Games.
“We feel that the Opening Ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said Saturday.
Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, condemned that stance Sunday as “unfeeling” and “completely out of touch.”
More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a moment of silence in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian militants at the games in Munich, Germany, 40 years ago. A German policeman and five of the attackers also died.
srael’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has also been a vocal proponent, campaigning on Facebook and Twitter for “Just One Minute” of silence.
The refusal of the IOC to back the plan “told us as Israelis that this tragedy is yours alone and not a tragedy within the family of nations,” Ayalon said in May.
Ankie Spitzer, whose husband Andrei was among those killed, was the first to sign the petition.
“They came to Munich in 1972 to play as athletes in the Olympics; they came in peace and went home in coffins,” she writes in the online plea.
She says she has “no political or religious agenda. Just the hope that my husband and the other men who went to the Olympics in peace, friendship and sportsmanship are given what they deserve. One minute of silence will clearly say to the world that what happened in 1972 can never happen again.”
Rogge said Saturday that the IOC would “be present” at the September 5 ceremony honoring the dead at the site where they were killed in Germany.
But Lauder of the World Jewish Congress said that was inadequate.
“Frankly, that’s not good enough,” he said, arguing that “hardly anybody” will notice that event.
The BBC notes that one of the possible reasons for the rejection of the memorial request:
Games organisers Locog and the International Olympic Committee may fear provoking a walkout from some Arab countries and are keen to avoid the games being politicised.
So much for Olympic ideals then. Cowardice reigns supreme. In any event, the games were politicised as soon as the Israeli athletes were murdered purely for being Israeli. You don’t get more political than that.
Perhaps feeling pressured by the negative public attention to their refusal to hold a minute’s silence, IOC President Jacques Rogge together with other members of the IOC held an impromptu memorial earlier this week (h/t Honest Reporting). It was such a low-key event, however, that barely 100 people attended and almost no one knew that it took place.
The International Olympic Committee paid a surprise tribute to the 11 Israeli team members who were killed at the 1972 Munich Games on Monday, marking the event for the first time in an Olympic village.
IOC President Jacques Rogge, who on Saturday had ruled out marking the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre at the London Games opening ceremony, said the 11 victims deserved to be remembered.
The IOC has never marked the event at any of the previous Games’ athletes’ villages.
A minute’s silence was observed after Rogge’s comments.
Among those at the ceremony were Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Olympic organizing committee, London Mayor Boris Johnson, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and several IOC officials.
This stunt is insulting in its overt lip-service, paying pro-forma “tributes” to the murdered athletes, simply in order to satisfy public pressure. Well, it didn’t work.
The Washington Post slams the IOC for missing a historic opportunity to honour the victims of the Munich massacre:
IOC President Jacques Rogge explained that “the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.” Instead, Mr. Rogge attended a moment of silence Monday in the Olympic village. The IOC also plans to acknowledge the Munich victims by participating in an Aug. 6 reception at London’s Guildhall and attending a Sept. 5 ceremony at the airfield in Fuerstenfeldbruck, where much of the massacre, by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, took place.
But only 100 people or so attended Monday’s little-publicized moment of silence. The Israeli Embassy, Israeli Olympic Committee and the Jewish community in London will put on the Aug. 6 event, and the IOC’s participation will be minimal. That same day, 22 gold medals will be awarded across eight sports, while events in 12 other sports take place, drawing attention away from whatever Mr. Rogge has planned for the Guildhall reception. The Zionist Federation will host the Sept. 5 ceremony, long after the Olympics is over.
The Munich massacre was not just an Israeli tragedy; it was an Olympic tragedy and a world tragedy. Forty years after the awful event, the fallen athletes deserve to be remembered at Friday’s opening ceremony, in front of 80,000 spectators and an estimated 4 billion TV viewers worldwide. Mr. Rogge’s priorities do no credit to the Olympic movement.
Deborah Lipstadt, the renowned author of “The Eichman Trial”, writing in Tablet Magazine (which writes about Jewish life and thought) writes that the reason for the IOC’s rejection of the memorial is because Jewish blood is cheap.
At the Munich memorial service, held on Wednesday, Sept. 6, the day after the massacre, Brundage defiantly declared: “The games must go on.” His cry was met with cheers by the crowd. (Red Smith of the New York Times described it as more pep rally than memorial.) The games did go on, but the Los Angeles Times reporter Jim Murray described it as “like having a dance at Dachau.”
[...] These victims deserved to be remembered by the very organization that had brought them to Munich.
Why the IOC refusal? The Olympic Committee’s official explanation is that the games are apolitical. The families were repeatedly told by long-time IOC President Juan Samaranch that the Olympic movement avoided political issues. He seemed to have forgotten that at the 1996 opening ceremony he spoke about the Bosnian war. Politics were also present at the 2002 games, which opened with a minute of silence for the victims of 9/11.
The families have also been told that a commemoration of this sort was inappropriate at the opening of such a celebratory event. However, the IOC has memorialized other athletes who died “in the line of duty.” At the 2010 winter games, for example, there was a moment of silence to commemorate an athlete who died in a training accident.
The IOC’s explanation is nothing more than a pathetic excuse. The athletes who were murdered were from Israel and were Jews—that is why they aren’t being remembered. The only conclusion one can draw is that Jewish blood is cheap, too cheap to risk upsetting a bloc of Arab nations and other countries that oppose Israel and its policies.
I have long inveighed against the tendency of some Jews to see anti-Semitism behind every action that is critical of Israel or of Jews. In recent years some Jews have been inclined to hurl accusations of anti-Semitism even when they are entirely inappropriate. By repeatedly crying out, they risk making others stop listening—especially when the cry is true.
Here the charge is absolutely accurate.
To demonstrate how a real memorial should be done, Richard Millett documents a very moving ceremony that was held in London this week:
Anticipating this outcome the co-chairs of the Britain and Israel Olympic Plaque Committee Martin Sugarman (Chair Hackney-Haifa Twinning Association) and councillor Linda Kelly (past speaker of Hackney) raised funds for a dignified and moving ceremony yesterday morning at the Arthaus in Hackney.
Linda said she was amazed that with all the hours during the Olympics the IOC could not spare one minute for the memory of the murdered athletes.
The Conservative Party was represented by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Communities Minister Eric Picles MP, Matthew Offord MP and Councillor Brian Coleman.
Labour was solely represented by Andrew Dismore, GLA member for Barnet and Camden. The Miliband brothers were invited but one was busy and the other didn’t reply. No mainstream Liberal Democrat politicians bothered to come.
Maureen Lipman, who constantly fights Israel’s corner against the many hypocrites in the acting world, came.
Sebastian Coe, London Olympics organiser, was invited. Linda Kelly read out his reply which amounted to nothing more than “Sorry. Mad busy at moment”.
Which seems to be the motto of the IOC – “We’re all much too busy to bother with the memory of a few dead Jews”. Shame on them all.