There Will Not Be a Moment of Silence For the Victims of Terrorism at the Munich Olympic Games

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The upcoming Olympic Games will mark 40 years since eleven Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists at the Olympic Games in Munich. The incident was significant for its symbolism as much as it was significant for the lives it took.

The Olympic Games are supposed to be a symbol of international friendship and a message to the world that despite our differences we can compete together without killing each other. Adding to the feelings of good will was the fact that Munich, Germany was hosting the games. It seemed like the perfect vision of a post-World War II world. Nations coming together to battle on the ball field instead of on the battlefield.

Then tragedy struck. Israeli athletes were taken hostage and their release was to be contingent on the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. A raid ensued in an attempt to rescue the Israelis and during the raid, eleven Israelis were killed. It was an international tragedy. Not only had the terrorists taken the lives of eleven innocents, but they had hijacked the Olympic Games. They turned the games from peace to war.

In light of the 40th anniversary of the massacre, the government of Israel requested that a moment of silence be observed at the 2012 London Games in memory of the Munich Massacre.

In a respectful letter, the International Olympic Committee denied the request.

Some are taking this as an affront to Israel. One widow of a terror victim from Munich said that “If the Olympic Games don’t say anything, nothing is going to change.” It is hard for me to understand what she means. There have not been any terror attacks against Israelis at the Olympic Games for 40 years. Apparently, things have changed.

But it gets worse.

In the words of Danny Ayalon:

“Unfortunately, this response is unacceptable as it rejects the central principles of global fraternity on which the Olympic ideal is supposed to rest. The terrorist murders of the Israeli athletes were not just an attack on people because of their nationality and religion; it was an attack on the Olympic Games and the international community. Thus it is necessary for the Olympic Games as a whole to commemorate this event in the open rather than only in a side event.”

As much as I would love to see a moment of silence at the Olympic Games, this response does not sit well with me. It seems a bit incongruous for one nation’s tragedy to create an obligation on the IOC that makes it necessary to have a moment of silence at the games. I appreciate that it is very important to Mr. Ayalon and to Israel, and to me, but that doesn’t make it necessary.

In fact, if it was not just something that Israel wanted on behalf of itself and in reality it was something that all nations would agree is important, where are the statements from all those other nations that they would like to observe a moment of silence? I have a feeling if 30-40 nations wrote “amicus briefs” supporting the moment of silence the response from the IOC would be different.

So here is my suggestion. Get the other countries to request a moment of silence and have the entire group to make a strong push for the remembrance. Lashing out at the IOC is probably not the best idea.

Link: NY Times

  • The problem I see with your argument is that you ignore what you yourself set forth in the second paragraph.  If you acknowledge what the Games were supposed to be, and that attacks damaged that ideal, then you can’t say it is one country’s tragedy.  The fact is, it’s a tragedy to the entire International Community and to the Games themselves.  Israelis lost their lives, but The Olympics lost its ideal, its lustre.  It was a global tragedy because if how and where it happened.

  • Anonymous

    During the very Games that this happened at they didnt do much other than moment of silence, so why expect anything four decades later.

  • ahg

    It’s like a white person in America advocating that we don’t need a day to acknowledge MLK because they’re not black.   In the universal community that the Olympic Village would have people think they are, a tragedy took place.  It wasn’t an Israeli tragedy, it was one for the entire Olympic community at the games.  Their fellow athletes had been abducted and killed.   It was a stain on the event.    While we can’t prove it, and we hope that no other county ever suffers such a loss, we “know” in out heats that if it was another country whose athletes were brutally murdered the response would be different.

    • You know nothing of the sort. That’s precisely the kind of outrage that bothers me so much.

  • GarnelIronheart1

    You’re probably too young to remember but the real outrages when it happened were:
    1) how well the Germans bungled the rescue attempt
    2) how the people running the Olympics couldn’t wait to restart the games.
    3) this is the only time something on this scale every happened
    Many folks firmly believe that if it had been any other national group, especially one from a larger nation, the games would have been cancelled right then and there because of the tragedy.  Instead the Games have refused to acknowledge that the tragedy was anything other than a blip and has tried to forget them as much as possible.  And yes, we believe it’s because Jews were killed and the people running the Games didn’t and don’t give a damn.  Hence the ongoing efforts.