The hypocrisy is stunning. Even as extraordinary security precautions have been taken in preparation for the London Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee refuses to formally acknowledge the 40th anniversary of the worst security breakdown in Olympic history. The IOC finds itself unable to set aside even one minute of silence at the games to mark the murder of 11 Israeli Olympic team members at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, Germany.
Every four years since then, the families of the Israeli victims have asked the IOC to schedule some commemorative ceremony at the Olympics. Their request has never been granted.
This year Ankie Spitzer, widow of Israeli fencing coach Andre Spitzer, one of the victims, launched a worldwide campaign for a minute of silence at the London Olympics. She has assembled endorsements from the Israeli government, the United States Senate, the Parliaments of Canada and Australia, the German Bundestag, about 140 Italian Parliamentarians and some 50 British MPs. The case has been made online through Facebook and Twitter.Petitions in favor of the minute of silence have garnered tens of thousands of signatures from around the world.
In denying the Israeli request for a minute of silence, the IOC claims it does not want to politicize the games. But it has appropriately commemorated tragedies before, for example in 2002 in memory of the victims of 9/11. IOC President Jacques Rogge affirmed his organization’s commitment to learning from the past, saying: “What happened in Munich in 1972 strengthened the determination of the Olympic movement to contribute more than ever to building a peaceful and better world.”Why the stubborn reluctance to devote 60 seconds to what happened?
The real answer, it seems, was conveyed verbally to Ankie Spitzer by that same Jacques Rogge. As she tells it, Rogge told her that “his hands were tied” since 46 Arab and Muslim countries belong to the IOC. In other words, there would be no minute of silence only because the victims were Israelis.
She replied,“No,my husband’s hands were tied, not yours.”
AJC Central NJ Region