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