Washington, July 26 – Anger is growing at the refusal of the International Olympic Committee to permit a moment of silence at Friday’s opening of the London Games to remember the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches, and one German policeman, slain by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.
“If ever there was a reason for the often overused moment of silence, this is it,” wrote columnist Tracee Hamilton in the Washington Post.“They were kidnapped and killed for being Israeli. That was the sum total of the reason. They were Jewish athletes killed in a country that had just 30 years earlier tried to exterminate their entire people. It was a horror for Israel, for Germany, for people with any heart or soul. And it should have been a horror for the IOC. Yet 40 years later, there isn’t time among the singing vampires and dancing hobbits for a moment of silence? Please.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge has said the opening ceremony is not a fitting venue to remember the murdered athletes who were taken hostage and killed by Black September Palestinian terrorists. Yet at the 1996 opening ceremony, former IOC President Juan Samaranch spoke about the Bosnian war. And at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, the horror of Sept. 11 was vividly called to mind.
Rogge held a private ceremony for the Israelis in the Athletes’ Village earlier this week attended by around 100 people.
Many believe, as the Boston Globe reported, that the IOC’s stance is purely political.
“A moment of silence for the 11 murdered Israelis would cast an ugly shadow on the Palestinian cause. That is an outcome too many regimes will not abide — and the IOC, it seems clear, lacks the backbone or the integrity to cross them,” the newspaper said.
“If this were any other nation but Israel,” said New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel “there would have been a moment of silence a long time ago.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Clinton wrote to Rogge to ask the committee to hold an "appropriate memorial event" in London for the victims. On Wednesday, the widows of two of the murdered Olympians met with Rogge to hand over a petition calling for a moment of silence, and urged spectators to stage a silent protest during Friday's opening ceremony.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who will be at the opening ceremony before flying to Israel, also supports honoring the victims. Members of Congress from both parties will hold their own moment of silence outside the Capitol on Thursday.
According to Steve Gold, Chair of the Minute of Silence Munich 11 Petition, “even an Iranian representative said that if there is an IOC Moment of Silence, they will respect it."
NBC chief Olympic anchor Bob Costas called the committee’s decision “baffling” and said he would lead a tribute himself on air.
“I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling, but insensitive. Here’s a minute of silence right now,” Costas said.
The New York Daily News said in an editorial: “A single, simple moment of silence at the London Olympics to pay tribute to the memories of those savagely killed in Munich — one minute set aside in Games that will last 24,480 minutes — is just moral common sense.”
These are the athletes who were murdered at Munich: David Mark Berger. Ze’ev Friedman. Yossef Gutfreund . Eliezer Halfin. Yossef Romano. Amitzur Shapira. Kehat Shorr. Mark Slavin. Andre Spitzer. Yakov Springer. Moshe Weinberg.