I am Nothing without Them: Holocaust Olympics Solidarity Tattoo

Today is the Jewish festival of Tu b’Av, which after Tisha b’Av, brings the message that we can overcome trauma, live again and find. First, we have to love ourselves and have inner strength and conviction we merit existence and support. The photos chosen for this article show an expression of love, remembrance and resistance. I never thought a tattoo could bring me to tears again after seeing number tattoos on Shoah survivors. But these photos are powerful, too, because they are about resistance.

More after the jump.
We are called by to holy resistance in the Torah, to act as the midwives did when they refused to follow a murderous edict of Pharaoh to murder the male Israelite infants. And so you can see a wonderful example of resistance, love and memory in this article’s accompany photos, on the arm of swimmer Fabien Gilot of the French team at this year’s Olympics. The tattoo began as a tribute to his grandmother’s Jewish husband, Max Goldschmidt, an Auschwitz survivor and a huge influence on his life.

Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat also engaged in an important act of resistance in the face of the refusal of the Olympic Committee to offer a main event memorial to the members of the Israeli Olympic team who were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Bavaria, in southern West Germany.

The Palestinian Olympic Committee called the idea of such a memorial “racism”!?

Here’s what JTA reported:

The head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee called the campaign to hold a minute of silence for the 11 Israelis murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics “racism.”

In a letter written to International Olympic Committee head Jacques Rogge, Jibril Rajoub wrote that “Sports are a bridge for love, communication and the spreading of peace between nations and should not be used for divisiveness and the spread of racism,” according to the Times of Israel, citing the media watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch.

Rogge has declined numerous requests to hold the minute of silence at the opening ceremony of the London Games on Friday. He held a minute of silence in memory of the athletes at a small ceremony in the Olympic Village on Monday.

In my humble opinion, the Palestinians are shooting themselves in the foot with such objections. I am an advocate for the Palestinians to experience the opportunity to try for ethical nationhood in a land of their own, just as Israel now has this opportunity. This behavior in their name and also by the Olympic Committee is brings dishonor to their cause. I was so sad to read it.

I’ve always adhered to the Jewish tradition that the body is the instrument on which the soul plays life for God and they we aren’t to add any cosmetic holes or engravings to it. But these images remind me of what the midwifes in denying Pharaoh’s edict in the Exodus story, this is an example of a kind of resistance to terror and we can all contemplate it, and then find our own particular creative manifestation of holy resistance.

Another wonderful example on this matter is found in the transcript of a radio interview with Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat at the beginning of the week:

Despite all the appeals from parliaments and heads of state, including Obama, Romney and Clinton, the heads of the International Olympic Committee decided not to honor this request to stand for a minute’s silence during the opening ceremony. Therefore, I think it is fitting that I make this protest in the name of the State of Israel. I did it by standing in the section of the sports ministers. I stood up, I bowed my head. I wore a black band on my left arm, which was very noticeable. It was aimed at precisely when [IOC President Jacques] Rogge was speaking.

It was very crowded in the gallery, and anyone who wanted to come over to me and say he was supportive – it was extremely difficult for him to get to me. Even so, there were a very few around me who did express support. We mentioned the massacre of the 11. The terrible massacre that took place. Yesterday the Syrian delegation marched here, and no one uttered a peep. Nothing. People are being slaughtered by the regime and no one voices so much as a chirp in protest. It’s business as usual for the world, like nothing happened. So everything here is sheer hypocrisy.

Because it is Shabbat here, and I don’t want to desecrate the Sabbath in an event of this kind, and it is also Tisha B’Av, I walked during the morning to the only place that is walking distance here, which is the swimming complex. Unfortunately, they did not succeed in making it to the finals, more’s the pity. Tomorrow night I am already returning to Israel, and I will return here again for the commemoration of the 11, which will be held at the [Israeli] Embassy on August 6.

Shabbat, Tisha b’Av and resistance. That is pure Jewish chutzpah klapei shamaya — holy and healthy courageous audacity, the Jewish way. No one was blown up, tortured or defamed, this was resistance done honorably in the face of Olympic Committee decision against remembering murdered Olympic athletes. Add your voice, every way you can. One day may we all treat each other with kindness and all live under their own fig tree on a square of land to call their own.

Israel Trip Showed Romney’s Not Ready

— by David A. Harris

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s trip overseas was designed to show that he is ready to be our nation’s commander in chief. It was supposed to show that he has the capability to steward key alliances and honorably represent our citizens.

By those measures, it was a complete failure.

More after the jump.
In addition to Romney insulting one of our closest allies by questioning British preparedness for the London Olympics, he boasted of the meeting he held with Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, even though one is not supposed to speak publicly of such meetings. Shouldn’t someone aspiring to be the Commander in Chief know when to keep his lips sealed – regardless of whether it involves intelligence or just being a gracious visitor?

But what was most extraordinary about Romney’s international visit was how irresponsible and reckless he was while discussing one of the most sensitive diplomatic issues of our time: the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

At first, Romney’s Israel excursion seemed harmless enough, mostly scheduled with photo-ops and events with high-dollar donors. In fact, Romney was almost never available to the travelling press and gave few public remarks. But what is truly remarkable though is just how damaging those few remarks were.

Romney displayed how woefully unequipped he is to be our Commander in Chief and seemed to not understand the diplomatic sensitivities and the potential costs to our national interests as he casually took a stance that was contrary to decades of U.S. Middle East policy, including under Democratic and Republican administrations.

By declaring that a Romney administration would ignore a precedent set by Republican leaders such as President George W. Bush and President Ronald Reagan, he introduced uncertainty into an already volatile region and may have pushed back the peace process before he had a chance to set foot in the Oval Office. And this is above and beyond the fact that he broke his promise which he made before he embarked on his international tour to not criticize President Obama on foreign soil.

And Romney did not stop there; he insulted Israelis and Palestinians alike, by saying that when it comes to the economic success – or failures – of those two peoples, “culture makes all the difference.” Not the free market, not international trade relationships, not education levels, not government investment, not geopolitical realities, and not ingenuity – economic wellbeing is a result of “culture.” These remarks were harshly condemned by Palestinians leadership and one Tel Aviv professor even said, “You can say it’s anti-Semitic. ‘Jews and money.'”

What’s most notable about Romney’s trip is that regardless of what happened abroad, he had already caused harm before leaving theUnited States. His reckless rhetoric about Russia, his bluster without details regarding Iran, and his pledge to “do the opposite” of one of the most pro-Israel presidents in history have all raised serious concerns among many in the Jewish community.

During the campaign season these missteps may be labeled as gaffes, but such leeway won’t be available to the President of the United States. The occupant of the most powerful seat in the world must pay attention to every word and action that he or she takes. A seemingly small misstep or cultural faux pas could damage key strategic alliances, seriously undermining America’s ability to pursue its national interest.

By showing that he was unable to visit three allies without serious diplomatic mistakes, Romney not only revealed how unsuited he is to be Commander in Chief, but his overseas performance would have disqualified him from being a first-year diplomat. And that is to say nothing of the many Republicans cringing over his foreign policy weaknesses.

President Obama has a proven record of strengthening America abroad and has not hesitated to use swift and powerful force when necessary. Our President has demonstrated that he understands when to be the ultimate diplomat and when to act unilaterally to protect our national interests throughout the world.

Romney’s international misadventures clarified in the minds of many Americans and American Jews who in this race is qualified to be Commander in Chief – and unfortunately for Romney, he displayed that it’s not him.

Originally published in The Times of Israel.

Passage of Time Cannot Dim the Memory of the Munich 11

— 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.’

We Can Create Our Own Minute Of Silence

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.)

7 Days To London Olympics: Loud Calls For Moment Of Silence

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

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.”

Netanyahu Tries His Hand (and foot) At Sports (and arts)

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday with the 38 members of Israel’s Olympic delegation. He present the delegation with this drawing showing a Israeli athlete on the winners podium holding an Israeli flag. His note in Hebrew reads:

To the Israeli Olympic Delegation.
Faster, higher, stronger!
With success,
Benjamin Netanyahu


According to JTA, “Bibi also gave them Olympic medals — made of chocolate.”


Netanyahu is no stranger to sports himself. Just last month, the Prime Minister injured his leg playing a soccer match with Jewish and Arab youths. His leg will be in a cast for several weeks. Now, according to the Jerusalem Post, “the Prime Minister’s office “is debating how to hold a Netanyahu-Romney photo-op without showing the cast on the prime minister’s leg.”

Olympic Insensitivity: IOC Refused London Games Minute Of Silence

— by Donna Schmidt

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.  

An Olympic Hope: Israeli Para-olympian Moran Samuel Does It All

According to Ami Eden:

Israeli para-athlete Moran Samuel won an international rowing competition in Gavirate, Italy. The organizers weren’t expecting her to win, so they hadn’t bothered to secure a recording of the Israeli national anthem, “Hatkivah.” When Samuel found out there would be no anthem played when she was on the podium, she asked for the mic and started singing herself.

“Friendship Blossoms” Between Romney and Anti-Israel Paul

— by Max Samis

As we’ve noted previously, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Representative Ron Paul have grown quite close on the campaign trail. Many believe that Romney will need Paul’s support to win the Republican nomination, and Romney has told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he would vote for the anti-Israel Paul if he were the nominee. Several weeks ago, The Washington Post reported on the “strategic partnership” that the two candidates have formed.

According to NBC News:

In addition to the Paul campaign’s latest TV ad, here’s more evidence in the emerging Mitt Romney/Ron Paul bro-mance: The Paul camp is now passing around oppo[sition research] on Rick Santorum.

With Santorum potentially on the brink of upsetting Romney in Michigan next week, the Paul campaign is targeting the former Pennsylvania senator for what it says is hypocrisy — after Santorum criticized Romney on the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Now, The New York Times reported that there is a “friendship [blossoming]” between the two candidates. The New York Times wrote:

In a Republican presidential contest known for its angry rivalries, the Romney-Paul relationship stands out for its behind-the-scenes civility. It is a friendship that, by Mr. Paul’s telling, Mr. Romney has worked to cultivate. The question is whether it is also one that could pay dividends for Mr. Romney as he faces yet more setbacks in his struggle to capture the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Ideological similarities among supporters of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich suggest that if Mr. Gingrich dropped out, many of his backers would coalesce behind Mr. Santorum. But as Mr. Paul steadily collects delegates, one thing that remains to be seen is whether his affinity – at least on a personal level – for Mr. Romney could help the former Massachusetts governor as the fight drags on…

“I talk to Romney more than the rest on a friendly basis,” Mr. Paul said. “I throw Romney’s name out because he’s made a bigger attempt to do it. The others are sort of just real flat.”

In an interview on CBS this past weekend, Mr. Paul volunteered that since his rivals were largely identical in policy substance, “when it comes down to those three, it’s probably going to be management style more than anything else.” According to one person close to the Paul campaign, it would be accurate to infer from that phrasing — “management style” — that Mr. Paul has a willingness to listen to overtures from Mr. Romney, who has been trying to sell himself to voters as a proven manager.