LONDON – As worldwide pressure grows for a memorial to the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre during Friday’s opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Games, the
The idea of a remembrance has gained more traction this year than ever before.
“Yes, we absolutely support the campaign for a minute of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.
IOC President Jacques Rogge of Belgium rebuffed those calls at a press conference Saturday night.
“We always pay deep attention to recommendations coming from the political world,” he said. “We are not necessarily following this advice.”
The IOC’s attitude involves an element of realpolitik. It clearly is fearful of the potential uproar that could follow from the nearly two dozen Arab countries and some two dozen more primarily Muslim countries sending teams to London.
That Israel is a lightning rod for enmity in parts of the world obviously complicates the situation. That is why Ankie Spitzer, who has spent four decades as a leader in the effort for a memorial moment during an opening ceremony, is willing to strip such a moment of all religious and nationalistic references.
“You don’t even have to say they were Jews or Israelis,” Spitzer said during a recent telephone interview. “Just tell the world that in 1972, 11 members of the Olympic family, athletes and coaches, were killed.”
Spitzer’s husband, fencing coach Andrei, was among those killed by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.
“Ours is not a message of hate and revenge,” she said. “Quite the opposite: we want people to remember, so that this will never happen again."
Beginning a Monday Olympic Village ceremony promoting the idea of an Olympic truce, Rogge surprisingly made a call to honor the memory of the 11 Israelis and then stood in silence for a minute.
The Jewish Federations of North America reacted by saying, "While IOC President Jacques Rogge held a moment of silence at the Olympic Village this morning, this group has emphasized the need for a larger moment for reflection that the world can participate in."
Spitzer also found the gesture insufficient.
"This is not the right solution, to hold some ceremony in front of 30 or 40 people," she told the Jerusalem Post. "We asked for a moment of silence at the opening ceremony, not for someone to mumble something in front of a few dozen people."
Israel's IOC member, Alex Gilady, is among those opposed to having a moment of silence in the London opening ceremony, a stand many in his country find incomprehensible.