For 38 years since 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by terrorists during the 1972 Olympic Games, international journalist Ankie Spitzer, widow of murdered athlete Andrei Spitzer, has lobbied along with the other surviving families for a moment of silence to be observed on behalf of the athletes, in every Olympic opening ceremony.
The lobby effort has not been successful, but a multinational fundraising and awareness effort to be launched Sunday evening at Kfar Maccabiah in Ramat Gan will hopefully change that. The campaign will link the next round of Maccabi Games with the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered almost 40 years ago, as well as a fundraising drive for the hungry.
Included in that effort is a new website launched by the Jewish Community Center of Rockland, the sponsoring organization for the 2012 JCC Maccabi Games.
“It is hoped that the website will help raise awareness and help persuade the Olympics to recognize the 40th anniversary of the tragedy at the 2012 Olympics in London,” said David Kirschtel, CEO of JCC Rockland in a statement.
The “Change4Change” hunger relief campaign is also intended to raise awareness about the terror victims, explained Kirschtel.
The athletes were murdered in cold blood on September 5, 1972 by terrorists from the Black September group, who said their operation was backed by PLO Chairman and Fatah leader Yasser Arafat.
Israeli civil rights organization Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) also demanded an investigation into the role of current Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's successor as leader of Fatah, whom the group accused of having funded Black September's terror activities.
JCC Rockland has created a unique campaign designed to remind the public of the tragedy that befell Israel's athletes at the Olympics. The activities, said Kirschtel, will take place as part of the buildup to the event, set to take place just two weeks after the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Change4Change is a large part of that effort.
Students in Rockland County and in Mosenson High School, in the Mosenson Youth Village in Hod HaSharon (Israel), will spend the next two years collecting 11 million coins in the Change4Change drive to assist the hungry – one million coins in memory of each of the athletes. Cosponsors of the project include Active International, a corporate trading company in Pearl River, and Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.
The JCC Maccabi Games, an annual Olympic-style sports event for teens administered by the JCC Association, always includes a tribute to the Israeli athletes, explained Kirschtel.