— by Max Samis
At a memorial held in London to honor the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes killed during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman delivered a statement on behalf of President Barack Obama. The statement read:
Today, the United States is proud to stand in solemn remembrance with the Israeli people to remember the eleven Israeli athletes who were killed forty years ago. The passage of time cannot dim the memory of the hope and promise that those members of the Israeli Olympic team embodied, just as time does not dull the horror at the brutal terrorist attack that took their lives.
The Israeli citizens who were lost stood for what is best about their nation, and the Olympic movement. They excelled at wrestling and weightlifting, fencing and running. They were citizens of a young democracy in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. And let us always remember that they were fathers and sons, husbands and brothers, and their loss left an empty space in families, communities, and a country that will never forget them.
While the United States supported a moment of silence in their honor, we welcome any effort to recall the terrible loss that was suffered in Munich, and the lives of those who were lost. Let us rededicate ourselves to a world that represents the hopes of those athletes, and not the hate of those who took their lives. Let us support the families who have endured forty years without their loved ones. And let us reaffirm the bonds between the United States, Israel, and all those around the world who strive for a world of peace and justice.
Obama previously offered his support for a moment of silence at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games currently taking place in London, although no such moment was held.
More after the jump.
JTA reported from the memorial:
British Prime Minister David Cameron at a memorial event said the world should ‘stop and remember’ the 11 Israelis killed 40 years ago at the Munich Olympics.
‘It was a truly shocking act of evil. A crime against the Jewish people. A crime against humanity. A crime the world must never forget,’ Cameron said Monday in London. ‘We remember them today, with you, as fathers, husbands and athletes. As innocent men. As Olympians. And as members of the people of Israel, murdered doing nothing more and nothing less than representing their country in sport.’
The event was organized by the National Olympic Committee of Israel, the Jewish Committee for the London Games and the Embassy of Israel.
Among those attending the memorial were Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of two of the Israelis, and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, who rejected their request, as well as that of relatives and supporters of the slain athletes and coaches, to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. British government ministers and Israeli officials also attended the memorial.
‘For us, the memory of our athletes slain in Munich by Palestinian terrorists is forever etched in our collective soul,’ Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat said at the ceremony. ‘There is a line to be drawn from Auschwitz to Munich, and from Munich to Burgas, where Israeli tourists were murdered by terrorists just three weeks ago.’
Ilana Romano (widow of Yossef Romano victim of 1972 terrorist attack) is right: There should be a minute of silence at the London Olympic Opening Ceremony to remember the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympic terrorist attacks 40 years ago.
It does not matter that IOC President Jacques Rogge says no (probably out of fear of Iran’s reactions). The athletes and spectators should take matters into their own hands. I suggest we do this as the athlete parade into the stadium on Friday under their nation’s banner. Once the Israeli delegation has entered, the Israeli delegation simply stops marching and stand at attention for 60 seconds.
More after the jump.
Photo: Israeli Olympic team at the Opening Ceremonies, August 26, 1972 in Munich before the September 5 terrorist attack killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.
Italy follows Israel in marching order, so if Italy is agreeable, this should be done after they enter instead. 140 Italian members of Parliament have called for a minute of silence, so they might be persuaded to join in. (Following Italy is Jamaica and Japan. Preceding Israel is Ireland. I don’t know where they stand on this issue.)
The summer is the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games when the members of the Israeli Olympic team were held hostage by the Black September terrorist group. The Palestinians killed five Israeli athletes, six coaches and a West German police officer. Sports reporter Jim McKay covered the events live on ABC:
When I was a kid, my father used to say “Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized.” Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They’ve now said that there were eleven hostages. Two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.
Ankie Spitzer, the wife of Andrei Spitzer (z’l), one of the Israeli athletes who came to the Olympics in peace and “went home in [a] coffin,” started a petition calling for a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games next Friday, July 27 in London. Over 100,000 people including President Barack Obama have joined Ankie Spitzer in signing this petition. However, the International Olympic Committee has refused to heed these calls.
According to ABC/Yahoo News:
President Barack Obama strongly supports holding a formal moment of silence at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in tribute to 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian extremists at the 1972 games in Munich, the White House said Thursday.
‘We absolutely support the campaign for a moment of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich,’ National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Yahoo News by email.
The son of slain Israeli wrestling coach Moni Weinberg, Guri Weinberg, welcomed the news on Twitter. ‘I’m literally crying right now. Thank you, President Obama,’ he said.
The International Olympic Committee has rejected the proposal, and said that the victims-killed by extremists of the Palestinian ‘Black September’ group-would be honored at a separate ceremony. In years past, the IOC has said that the Games are no place for what might be seen as a political statement. But supporters of the homage have not given up, and a global campaign has been under way to convince the IOC to reverse its decision. The opening ceremonies begin July 27.
The Senate unanimously approved a resolution on June 25 calling on the IOC to hold such a tribute. A similar measure sailed unopposed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee in early June, but it was not clear on Thursday whether the full House would vote on the measure before the games begin.
‘I hope this is the final impetus to get the International Olympic Committee to agree that a minute should be set aside at the Opening Ceremonies next Friday to honor those murdered Olympians,’ said Democratic Representative Eliot Engel.
A spokeswoman for Mitt Romney, Andrea Saul, said the Republican standard-bearer had taken no public stance on the issue.
Statements from Senator Gillibrand, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird and Sports Minister Bal Gosal, B’nai B’rith International follow the jump.
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, author of the Senate resolution
Observing a moment of silence at the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, when the world’s attention is focused on this symbol of international cooperation and peace, would pay tribute to the slain athletes and coaches and would send a powerful message of unity in the fight against terrorism.
NBC sportscaster Bob Costas told The Hollywood Reporter this week that he will stage his own personal protest of the IOC decision:
I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here’s a minute of silence right now.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
The Olympics are a globally anticipated event celebrating human achievement and spirited competition. But one tragic morning in 1972, that celebration was horrifically interrupted as 11 Israeli athletes in Munich for the games were kidnapped and ultimately killed by a group of Palestinian terrorists known as Black September. In the years since, the families of these victims have been looking to have the memories of their loved ones – who came to Munich in the spirit of peace – honored at the Olympic opening ceremony with a simple moment of silence. But they have been continually rebuffed. Now a campaign led by one of those family members has attracted over 90,000 signatures to a petition asking the International Olympic Committee for a moment of silence to remember the murdered Israeli athletes.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird and Sports Minister Bal Gosal
The terrorist attack targeted not only Israel, but the spirit and goals of the Olympic movement…it should be marked publicly as part of the official ceremony.
B’nai B’rith International laments the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision not to hold an official minute of silence at the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games to remember the 11 Israeli athletes, coaches and referees murdered at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
According to a report in the European Jewish Press, Ankie Spitzer, widow of one of the slain athletes, said that the president of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games acknowledged that the 46 Arab and Muslim members of the IOC were responsible for rejecting Spitzer’s proposed “One Minute of Silence” campaign.
B’nai B’rith also calls on all networks with broadcast rights to the games to hold their own moments of silence.
“All these families want is recognition for the tragic deaths, but for 40 years they have been turned down,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “This is unacceptable and discriminatory; it is the antithesis of the Olympic spirit.”
B’nai B’rith has signed Spitzer’s online petition-which currently has nearly 97,000 signatures-to encourage the IOC to hold the minute of silence and praises countries such as the United States, England, Australia, Belgium and Germany for supporting these efforts.
“Ignoring continued efforts to hold a memorial minute of silence of the 40th anniversary of this massacre sends a signal that Israel is not worthy of international recognition for its losses,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “This is intolerable, and we hope the IOC will reverse its misguided and offensive decision.”
JCC Rockland’s petition on change.org is over 23,000 signatures strong and is far from over. The petition, started on April 13, 2012, asks for a Minute of Silence at the London Olympic Games and at every game thereafter for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by terrorists at the Olympic Village in Munich in 1972. The Munich 11 families have been asking for this honor in memory of their loved ones for 40 years. For 40 years the IOC has denied their request.
Yesterday, Emmanuelle Moreau, IOC head of media relations, told the Post, “The IOC has paid tribute to the memory of the athletes who tragically died in Munich in 1972 on several occasions and will continue to do so. However, we do not foresee any commemoration during the opening ceremony of the London Games.”
Ankie Spitzer (wife of fencing Coach Andrei Spitzer, one of the Munich 11) who started the petition with JCC Rockland had this to say, “I have not received any official response from the IOC. This is far from over. I continue to move forward in my pursuit for the honor my husband and the other men deserve. These men were Olympians and should be given this honor IN the Olympic Stadium not just outside of it.”
More after the jump.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Congressman Elliot Engel yesterday announced a Congressional Resolution and released a letter to the IOC. “The murder of 11 Israeli athletes by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics was a tragedy that reverberated far beyond the Games,” said Congresswoman Lowey, Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee. “It is necessary, important, and right to hold a minute of silence in recognition of the victims. The continued refusal of the International Olympic Committee to honor the memories of these victims is unfathomable, and I urge the IOC to reconsider its decision.”
“The murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches can no longer be ignored by the International Olympic Committee. It’s time that the IOC set aside a moment of silence to remember all of the victims,” said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I urge the IOC to reconsider its appalling decision and stop standing in the way of an appropriate, solemn recognition of the horror which befell the Games 40 years ago.”
For more information about the Munich 11 and “The Minute of Silence” campaign, go to the Munich 11 website.
By Hannah Lee
This series explores some of the ways that Jews have created a sense of kehillah (community), both traditional and modern. Previous articles have focused on a contemporary approach on the Internet and the traditional method of hospitality.
Jews who travel know to contact the local Chabad rabbi in whatever city they find themselves to seek help about kosher food and Shabbat accommodations. The local Chabad website would have that week’s Shabbat candle lighting time and parshah (Bible portion), even when the traveller’s own congregation’s website may not be as current. This free service is extended to all Jews, regardless of religious background, but sometimes, the Chabad connection goes beyond the normal call of duty.
In Senator Joe Lieberman‘s new book, The Gift of Rest, he wrote about one memorable visit to Munich with Senator John McCain in February 2004, a time of massive anti-Iraq war demonstrations that targeted the international security conference attended by “almost all defense ministers and many foreign ministers of NATO countries.” Lieberman was greeted by the American military attaché who reported thus:
As you have seen, Senator, the streets around the hotel are sealed off with riot control vehicles and police cars. A few hours ago, I was called to come out and meet someone. I went out, watched the police vehicles separate, and through them walked a young rabbi with a beard, a black suit, and black hat, carrying a large shopping bag. When we met, he said he had brought the bag for Senator Lieberman for the Sabbath, and here it is.
And there it was, thanks to Rabbi Yisroel Diskin, the Chabad rabbi in Munich- a bag full of all I needed to make and enjoy Shabbat in Munich. How did the rabbi know I was there? My mother, in Stamford, CT, told her Chabad rabbi, Yisroel Deren, that I was going to be in Munich that Shabbat, and Rabbi Deren immediately e-mailed Rabbi Diskin who took it from there.
My daughter got through her college years with the help of her Chabad rabbi, another venue where Jewish connection is maintained by these dedicated rabbis and their wives. When she graduated at the end of the winter quarter, it was the day before Purim, so we celebrated Shabbat and Purim with Chabad and we had a fabulous time. I was Cleopatra, complete with headdress, gladiator sandals, blingy garb, and the fatal asp too! My daughter channeled her inner geek, by re-purposing her graduation gown as the English school uniform for Hermione.
When my family was in Aspen for its annual music festival one year, we celebrated Shabbat with Chabad there. Rabbi Mendel Mintz has created a lively Jewish community center in the Colorado mountains, which he, Brooklyn-born and bred, has learned to ski. His beautiful wife, Lieba, is director of their Hebrew school — as is usual in the Chabad outposts — and they’re assisted by a rotation of young women who come out from Brooklyn to help the family care for their children as well as serve as teachers in the Hebrew school. They give their all, with zeal and passion, because their mission is to bring all Jews closer to their tradition.
So, why can Jews travel all over the world and get consistent aid from the local Chabad websites? It’s because it’s all centrally maintained at 770 Eastern Parkway in Boro Park, New York. The staff at the headquarters helps new shluchim (emissaries) with websites, data bases, and tax forms. It’s maybe as old as the shluchim program. And for the Reader, if you feel inadequate about your knowledge of Jewish heritage, their newest educational project is Fascinating Facts: Exploring the Myths and Mysteries of Judaism and it’s available at your local Chabad center.