“How can we react to the slaughter of the Israeli athletes?”
In 1972, a student journalist reflected on the Munich Massacre
Editor’s note: As the 40th anniversary of Munich Massacre approaches, and as the 2012 London Olympics games begin, a call for some recognition of the Munich Massacre goes unheeded by this year’s organizers. In recognition of that, New Voices Magazine, the national magazine of college Jews, re-published this reflection on that tragedy, originally published in September of 1972, earlier this week at newvoices.org. It was written by David Twersky in the immediate aftermath of the killings. Twersky, who passed away in 2010, was the co-founder of the Jewish Student Press Service, and a former editor of the New Jersey Jewish News.
How can we react to the slaughter of the Israeli athletes? Can we fix the blame? Can we even conceive which questions to ask?
… yet in Munich they asked if the games should go on
… yet in Jerusalem — how and where the army should retaliate was the subject of conjecture
… in countless newspaper columns and editorials — how shocking were the killings and how dare they commit such an act at the Olympics! (as if somehow the spirit of brotherhood supposedly embodied in the games was of greater import than the lives of those killed in full bloom)
In her New York Post column Harriet Van Horne places both the Israelis and the Arabs outside the pale of civilization, as though the great standard bearers of the civilized world have been exemplary models of conduct.
… in Munich the Egyptian delegation fled back to its own country, while in Cairo Sadat would not answer Willy Brandt’s telephone calls
.. in Tel Aviv people went to sleep after the announcement that all the hostages were safe and woke up to the death report. People cried openly on the streets thought thoughts soon turned to anger and vengeance.
Israeli newspapers had to rely on their sports’ (sic) reporters to tell the public what had happened: “Now 6,000,0011,” one wrote. “One again Jewish blood is spilled on German soil,” wrote another. Today in Europe no Israeli walks the streets without some trace of fear; Jews look over their shoulders in Europe — just because they are Jews. And just a few miles away, Dachau…
This article was distributed by the Jewish Student Press Service’s now-defunct wire service, JSP Features. In 1972, JSPS was less than two years old, and served as a wire service for a then-thriving network of independent Jewish student publications all over North America. JSPS is still completely independent and non-profit. New Voices is produced on a shoestring budget by one full-time straight-out-of-college editor and a network of Jewish student journalists across the country.