And each universe was extinguished in an instant by a hail of Arab bullets. They were killed because they were Jewish, because they were Israeli, and because it was the Olympics.
I am writing you as a Member of the Canadian Parliament and mover of a parliamentary motion which was unanimously passed by the Canadian House of Commons on June 13, 2012. The motion, which called for a moment of silence at the 2012 London Olympics in memory of those Israeli Olympians killed 40 years ago – where you yourself were an Olympic athlete – read as follows:
That the House offers its support for a moment of silence to be held at the 2012 London Olympics in memory of those killed 40 years ago in the tragic terrorist events of the 1972 Munich Olympics wherein 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.
Nor is such a memorial, as you best know, without precedent. Two years ago during the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the IOC, observed a moment of silence – over which you presided, appropriately enough – in memory of the Georgian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died tragically in a training accident. Ten years ago, in 2002, the IOC memorialized the victims of 9/11, though that terrorist atrocity neither occurred during the Olympic Games nor had any connection to them. The duty of remembrance was justification enough.
In particular, after eschewing a memorial for the murdered Israeli athletes and coaches at this year’s opening ceremony, the IOC then – and again, rightly – memorialized the victims of the 2005 London Bombings (as it happens, I was in London at the time visiting as Minister of Justice), though this terrorist atrocity, as well, had no nexus to the Olympic Games.
The refusal of the IOC, therefore, to observe a moment of silence on the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre – the slaughter of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches for no other reason than that they were Israelis and Jews – is as offensive as it is incomprehensible. These eleven (11) Israeli Olympians were part of the Olympic family, they were murdered as members of the Olympic family, they should be remembered by the Olympic family at these Olympic Games themselves.
Accordingly, it is not hard to infer – as many have done – that not only were the athletes killed because they were Israeli and Jewish, but that the moment of silence is being denied them also because they are Israeli and Jewish. Professor Deborah Lipstadt – a distinguished historian of antisemitism and one normally understated in her attribution of anti-Jewish or anti-Israel motifs – makes the connection. In her words:
“The IOC’s explanation is nothing more than a pathetic excuse. The athletes who were murdered were from Israel and were Jews—that is why they aren’t being remembered. … This was the greatest tragedy to ever occur during the Olympic Games. Yet the IOC has made it quite clear that these victims are not worth 60 seconds.
This Sunday, when the London 2012 Olympic Games conclude, let us pause to remember and recall each of the murdered athletes. Each had a name, an identity, a family – each person was a universe:
Dr. Rogge, it is not too late for the IOC to remember these murdered Olympians as Olympians at the London Olympic Games this Sunday – it is not too late to be on the right side of history.
Irwin Cotler, P.C., O.C., M.P.
Israelis ask too politely, in my opinion. They extend their pinkies when they should clench a fist. It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission—or better yet, don’t ask for either. If there is a closing ceremony in which the teams march out of the stadium, as they marched in, I would hope the entire Israeli team would stop their recessional and drop their heads for a minute’s silent prayer. Who cares if the Italian team (if they march alphabetically) has to pull up short to avoid tripping over them?
Israel can’t rely on appeals to reason or decency; the international community doesn’t recognize the former and is devoid of the latter. Israel must take care of herself.
One of the most invaluable websites I consult daily, IMRA, just dug up this chestnut from over forty years ago that further explains why:
“Israel, with her survival at stake, cannot afford to take chances…. The nature of the Israeli’s situation is bound to influence their interpretation of ambiguous events. We, on the other hand, have an incentive to minimize such evidence, since the consequences of finding violations are so unpleasant. Violations force us to choose between doing something about them and thus risk the blowup of our initiative; or doing nothing and thus renege on our promises to Israel, posing the threat of her taking military action. Accordingly, we tend to lean over backwards to avoid the conclusion that the Arabs are violating the cease-fire unless the evidence is unambiguous.”
Henry Kissinger to President Richard Nixon, 1970
[Henry Kissinger “White House Years", page 587]
Truer today than when he wrote it.