Rivlin attends memorial to Munich Massacre - 45 years late

Israeli president noted Fatah continues to call Munich Massacre of 11 athletes 'heroic,' memorial decades overdue.

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Gary Willig,

Memorial to Munich Massacre victims
Memorial to Munich Massacre victims
Reuters

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke at the inauguration ceremony in Munich for the victims of the Olympic games massacre in 1972.

The ceremony marked the 45th anniversary of the terrorist attack in which Arab terrorists from the Black September organization kidnapped and murdered 11 Israeli athletes competing at the Munich Olympic games.

President Rivlin attended the ceremony alongside German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. The ceremony was also attended by surviving members of the 1972 Israeli Olympics team and the families of the victims.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the ceremony that the memorial should not have taken 45 years to be built.

"It is high time and we owe it firstly to you, the relatives," Steinmeier said. "The Olympic village became a place of Palestinian terrorists, a stage for their boundless hatred for Israel. It should never have happened."

Ilana Romano, the widow of weightlifter Joseph Romano, who was murdered during the massacre, said: "We wanted this memorial. In the years after we heard voices that us Israelis brought war to Germany and the terrorists were hailed as freedom fighters,"

"That hurt so much but we did not give up. We knew our way was the right one ... for the future of our children and the next generations," Romano said.

"Then, they said that we Israelis brought terror to German soil and that terrorism was aimed only at Israelis. It is 45 years since everyone realized that terrorism is aimed at the entire world. We thank the Prime Minister of Bavaria, who promised to build the museum, and today it is time to make the shehechiyanu blessing (blessing on new things and times)

Romano and Ankie Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer, another victim of the Munich Massacre, have campaigned for decades to have the murder of their husbands commemorated at the opening ceremony of the Olympic games.

President Rivlin also called the memorial overdue.

“For 45 years – almost half a century – the victims’ families, and the State of Israel looked with anticipation for this moment: the inauguration of a center of remembrance and a memorial in the Olympic Village,” the president said.

Rivlin slammed Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party for continuing to glorify the massacre. “There are still those who see in the murder of sportsmen a heroic deed. Just last year, Fatah marked the massacre of the sportsmen as an ‘act of heroism.’"

He called on the international community to unequivocally condemn all acts of terrorism, including those committed against Israelis. “The center we are inaugurating today must be a message to the whole world: There can be no apologizing for terrorism. Terror must be unequivocally condemned everywhere. In Barcelona, in London, in Paris, in Berlin, in Jerusalem, and everywhere else.”

The International Olympic Committee refused to allow a minute of silence in memory of the murdered athletes at the opening ceremony of the Olympics for over four decades. The committee commemorated the massacre for the first time only last year, at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

According to the committee, holding a minute of silence for the victims of the massacre would "politicize" the games.








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