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Zion's Corner Blogs


Op-Ed: You Cannot Commemorate What Doesn't Exist

Outright discrimination aimed at Israel was not exceptional, but was rather part of the Olympic fabric, even before the games begin. Good luck to our athletes!
Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 5:46 PM


The Arab-Muslim effort to take Israel off the world map can celebrate some major successes at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England even before the Games have ended.

The most public of their Olympic successes—but not their most significant--was the absolute refusal of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge to grant a minute of silence at the opening ceremonies to memorialize the loss of eleven Israeli Olympic athletes murdered by Arab Muslims during the 1972 Munich Games. This is the fortieth anniversary of those murders, and several nations, including the US, had requested such a commemoration. As others have already noted, it is a sign of how little respect the United States receives these days that her effort to request a minute of silence for Israelis was so easily rejected.

The request for this minute was not a pro-forma exercise. One of the widows of those murdered athletes, Ankie Spitzer, is reported to have hand-carried (with other widows) a petition containing 105,000 signatures requesting the minute. When Jacques Rogge refused that request, he did so stating explicitly (according to Israeli reports) that the opening ceremonies were not a fit place to remember the Munich massacre. At that interview, Ms Spitzer asked Rogge point-blank, ‘is it because the athletes are Israeli?’ Mr Rogge remained stone silent. He would not answer the question.

In Jewish tradition, such silence in such a situation is the same as affirmation. Ms Spitzer called his refusal, ‘pure discrimination’. But for many, it was not a ‘smoking gun’ proof of outright anti-Semitism.


As others have already noted, it is a sign of how little respect the United States receives these days that her effort to request a minute of silence for Israelis was so easily rejected.
That proof was reserved for Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month, Av—a day of national mourning for national tragedies that stretch back almost 2,500 years--a day for Jewish tragedy.

Tisha B’Av, this year, fell on Friday night-Saturday, July 27-28, 2012, beginning in London at about the same time Olympic opening ceremonies began.

Jonathan Tobin, writing in Commentary Magazine (and appearing also on calevbenyefuneh.blogspot), tells us about the killing of perhaps 52 people on July 7, 2005, in England just 24 hours after the British had announced that the 2012 Olympics would be held in London. According to Tobin, there appears to be no direct connection between those killings and the Olympics; but the British appear to associate them with their Games; as Tobin comments, ‘fair enough.’

The 52 who died had been killed by bombs set by Islamists and, as Tobin describes it, may play a role in the IOC’s refusal to offer a minute of silence for the Israeli athletes killed during the 1972 Olympic Games.

You see, while the IOC had no time for one minute to remember actual Olympic athletes murdered by Islamists, it did have time for a six-minute choreographed commemoration for those 52 deaths ‘associated’ with the Games. That six minute commemoration took place during the opening ceremony.

Is that a ‘smoking gun’ of anti-Semitism?

Naturally, that six-minute commemoration caused an outcry. But the outcry was not prompted because the IOC had allowed a memorial for a lesser case (British murders) while rejecting a stronger case (Olympic murders).

The outcry occurred because NBC TV, the American broadcast network carrying the Olympics to the USA, cut short the six-minute commemoration to show something else; this insult was compounded because the NBC host, Bob Costas, had the gall to discuss the murders of the Israelis and then, even worse, chose to grant a five-second on-air commemorative silence as the Israeli team entered the stadium.

How dare NBC allow such insult to the Olympic spirit?

As if to remind us that outright discrimination aimed at Israel was not exceptional, but was rather part of the Olympic fabric, we learned several hours before the opening ceremonies that members of the Lebanese judo team were outraged that day because they had found themselves unable to practice--Israelis were sharing a mat with them! They complained immediately. Olympic officials put up a wall so that the Israelis would be hidden.

So far, however, the greatest success of the Arab effort to use the Olympics to remove Israel from the family of Man did not take place on a training mat or during an opening ceremony. It took place before the Games began.

On your search engine (I used Google), type ‘2012 Olympics Homepage’. On the toolbar above the day’s main Homepage picture-of-the-day, click on ‘countries’. Then, underneath that same toolbar, you’ll see a list of regions; click on ‘Asia.’ As of Tuesday, July 31, 2012, Israel’s flag is nowhere to be found. Israel is not on the list of participating countries. Palestine is.

According to the official Olympics Homepage, as far as I can see, Israel either does not exist or she has no athletes at the Games.

Perhaps that’s why the IOC couldn’t remember the 1972 massacre: you can’t commemorate what doesn’t exist.