There had been terrorist attacks on Israelis before the 1972 Munich Olympics, but none with so large an audience or as devastating an emotional impact. The globally televised drama of the kidnappings and subsequent murders of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by a Palestinian terrorist cell was not just a Jewish trauma, but a global one. It essentially inaugurated the age of terrorism, and forever marred the promise of the Olympics themselves.
With that in mind, it would not have been merely in the interest of Israel or the Jews to include an official acknowledgement of the 40-year anniversary of the tragedy during this summer’s London Olympics. Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee last week denied requests for a moment of silence or similar gesture, worried that it would “politicize” the games or risk alienating Israel’s opponents. The IOC contends that it has sufficiently memorialized the victims elsewhere.
U.S. Reps. Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, Democrats from New York, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), reject this excuse. While the IOC decision appears final, the lawmakers have introduced a congressional resolution calling on the IOC to honor the Munich 11.
“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,” wrote the deputy foreign minister of Israel, Danny Ayalon. The international community should rise up to defend those Olympic ideals.