Last week saw the launch of an online petition seeking the observation of a minute of silence during the London Summer Olympics in memory of 11 Israeli athletes slain during the 1972 Munich massacre.
According to the petition, families of the victims have been working for decades to have the International Olympic Committee grant official recognition of the massacre during the ceremonies but have not thus far been successful.
During the Munich Olympics in the summer of 1972, Black September, a Palestinian terrorist group, orchestrated the capture of much of the Israeli Olympic delegation. In what was widely seen as a bungled rescue attempt by the Germans, all of the captured athletes and most of the terrorists were killed.
“If you forget history you are bound to repeat it,” said Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andrei Spitzer, in a promotional video. “One minute for the Munich 11 victims to show the world that the doctrine of the Olympic spirit, ‘to build a peaceful and better world which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play,’ is more powerful than politics.”
The attack was horrific and cowardly, but it also showed the world how cold-blooded the Arabs were—and how vulnerable the Israelis if they didn’t protect themselves. (As if anyone still needed proof?) I still remember how the sports announcers were speechless as the news of the atrocity unfolded.
And it’s also part of Olympic lore. As much as any achievement, athletic or nonathletic (the clenched fists of 1968), the kidnapping and execution of the Israeli Olympic team should be remembered. A minute of silence in their memory 40 years later seems a reasonable request.