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.

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.)