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Op-Ed: I Think of Munich's Children

On the day of the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, the games at first continued, despite the knowledge that two Israeli athletes were murdered and nine remained hostage!
Published: Friday, May 04, 2012 5:06 PM


The International Olympic Committee will not hold a minute of silence at the London Games for the 11 Israeli athletes butchered by the Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the worst terrorist attack in sports history.

In a video posted on YouTube, Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Andrei Spitzer, had issued a heartfelt appeal to the Olympic Committee.

The Israeli widows deserved it, if only to ease the emotional pain.

But the Committee choose infamy, disgrace and capitulation to terrorism.

The massacre of the Israeli team is not just a tragedy for the Jewish State or even for the Olympics, but for the entire world. The Olympic Games lost their meaning that day.

The political objectives of the Games of 1972 were to bury the memory of the infamous1936 Nazi Olympics, and to celebrate the coming of age of “the new Germany” as a member of the family of nations.

The objective was evident in the color of the Games. Red and black, the colors of totalitarianism, were nowhere to be seen at Munich. In their place, the colors used were of “a may morning in Bavaria”. Friendly colors: grass green, sky blue, cloudlike silver and touches of flowery orange”.

The Games were supposed to show the best face of post-Nazi Germany by providing a new image for Munich, the city close to Dachau and identified with the Holocaust of six million Jews.

But everything went wrong for the new Munich and the new Germany as the world watched Jews suffering once again on German soil.

The Palestinians gunned down wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg, who tried to warn other athletes and coaches and attempted to bar the entrance. Then they shot weightlifter Yossi Romano, who jumped at them with a kitchen knife, and left him to bleed to death.

Some Israelis slipped through a back door, but nine were seized and tied to furniture. The terrorists demanded 200 Palestinians jailed in Israel be freed.

The response of the Olympic organizers to the sullying of their games with violence was a series of shameful capitulations to terrorism.

On the day of the attack, the games at first continued, despite the knowledge that two Israelis were dead and nine remained hostage.

When the full tragedy became known, the games were halted for only part of one day. The German government, together with the Committee, rallied under the slogan “the Games must go on”.


An order by then German chancellor Willy Brandt to fly the flags at half mast was rescinded after the Arab nations objected.
An order by then German chancellor Willy Brandt to fly the flags at half mast was rescinded after the Arab nations objected.

Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch told Spitzer’s daughter, Anouk, after the 1992 Barcelona games: “I promise you at the next Games we will do something to honor the Munich 11”.

A month before the 1996 Atlanta games, she was told that even a moment of silence would break the Olympic rule of “never mixing politics with the games”.

By refusing to remember murdered athletes, the Committee is perpetuating a mortal stain on the Olympics as a whole. In London the travesty will continue.

That Palestinian officials would object to such a commemoration is disturbing enough (their hands are stained with Jewish blood). But for the Committee to fall for such Orwellian logic - that remembering athlete victims is “political” - is totally inexcusable.

A large stone - often adorned with fresh flowers – today marks the site of the takeover, which is now part of a private complex. The victims’ names are written on the tablet in German and Hebrew, with the solemn words: “In honor of their memory”.

When the bodies of the Israeli athletes arrived at the Lod Airport, there was no fanfare to greet them, only silence and a dignified sadness. Waiting for them was Moshe Dayan, with the look of a kibbutznik who had interrupted his work in order to weep for his children. There was Yigal Allon, who had started fighting in the clandestine Jewish army at the age of thirteen.

There wasn’t a single shop open in the country; the Jewish people were unified in suffering, just as they had been throughout their history.

While the Arab ambassadors were present at the “martyrs” burial in Tripoli, the atmosphere in Israel was different. After reciting the Kaddish over the graves, the People of the Book went back to their homes.

The next day was the beginning of the Jewish New Year, but there was no room for joy.

That new year opened with all thoughts turned to the children of the eleven victims. Those children were, and are, the why of Israel. When the Olympic Gales will open again in London continuing to live in infamy, my prayer will go to these children.

The Jewish blood spilled 40 years ago will never stop flowing.