A community remembers – Munich widows express disappointment

July 23, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) and Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV) have put a call out to the community this week to remember the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games…but their widows have not given up. The World Jewish Congress has added its voice to the please for remembrance.

Image copyright AAP

The call comes in the wake of the International Olympic Committee’s continued refusal to hold a minute of silence at the Games’ Opening Ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre.
The JCCV has written to synagogues throughout Victoria asking for the athletes to be remembered in sermons this weekend and for a memorial prayer to be said. “It is important that Jewish communities world-wide take action to mark the anniversary of those catastrophic Games. Here in Victoria, some 16,000 kilometres and 40 years from where the attack was perpetrated, we remember the innocent lives that were cut short and denounce terrorism against Israel in all its forms,” said JCCV Acting President Helen Light.
In addition, both the JCCV and the ZCV are promoting a facebook campaign called Minute for Munich, and will be holding a small memorial service at Beth Weizmann on Friday.
ZCV President Sam Tatarka said: “40 years ago the Munich Olympics were hijacked by a deplorable act of terror when 11 members of Israeli Olympic Team were killed simply because they were Jews and Israelis. A minute of silence is the least the International Olympic Committee, the world and we in Melbourne can do to send the message that terror waged upon innocent people will not be forgotten or politicised. At Beth Weizmann Community Centre on Friday morning, we will be sending that message by marking a minute of silence and we invite the entire community to join us.”
The 2012 Olympic Games commence in London this Friday. Israel will be sending a team of 38 athletes to the Games.

The Executive Director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim told J-Wire: “The legislatures of Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy have passed resolutions calling on the IOC to set aside one minute of silence at the opening ceremony of the 2012 games to remember the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Olympic Games in Munich forty years ago.  Their calls have been endorsed by US President Barak Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, among others.  The refusal of IOC President, Jacques Rogge, to heed their calls, and his insistence on holding instead the usual memorial ceremony out of the public eye,  represents stiff-necked sporting bureaucracy at its bone-headed worst.  It recalls the lack of moral compass of Rogge’s predecessor, Avery Brundage, an unabashed admirer of Hitler.   With this decision Rogge has written yet another chapter in the IOC’s long record of infamy and further sullied the highest ideals of sport and sportsmanship which the Olympic Games are supposed to affirm.”

In the meantime, Munich widows Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano have announced that along with the Israeli ambassador to the U.K. Daniel Taub they will make a further demand on Wednesday at 11am UK time for a minute’s silence to be held to remember their husbands fencing coach Andre Spitzer and weightlifter Yossef Romano who were murdered along with nine of their teammates at Munich.

On Tuesday evening the two women will present IOC chief Rogge with a petition containing more than 103,000 names requesting the minute’s silence.

The World Jewish Congress has joined in supporting their efforts.

In a statement just released they say:  “The World Jewish Congress has lamented the refusal by the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, to hold one minute’s silence at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games in London in remembrance of the Israeli sportsmen who were taken hostage and later murdered by the Black September terrorist group during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. During a press conference in London on Saturday, Rogge had again ruled out such a symbolic gesture, despite numerous calls from around the world to do so. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder called the IOC stance “unfeeling” and the IOC leaders “completely out of touch.”

They added: 
“Hundreds of millions around the world are going to watch the opening ceremony in London next Friday. Forty years after the saddest moment in Olympic history – when eleven Israeli athletes and sports officials and a German police officer were killed by Palestinian terrorists – it would have been a excellent opportunity to show to everyone that the sports world stands united against terrorism. Instead, an IOC delegation will commemorate the dead at an airfield near Munich in September, but that ceremony hardly anybody will notice. Frankly, that’s not good enough,” Lauder declared.
The WJC president added: “Nobody wants to ‘politicize’ the Olympic Games, as the IOC seems to suggest, but Baron Rogge and his colleagues on the IOC Executive have utterly failed – or refused – to grasp the importance of such a symbolic act. One can only speculate on their motives. Let’s hope it was not pressure from certain regimes that could not bear Israeli athletes being commemorated that has swayed the IOC against holding one minute’s silence.”
Family members of the athletes, coaches and officials who were killed by Palestinian gunmen during the Munich Olympics have tried for a long time to persuade the IOC to organize an official commemoration during the opening ceremony in London. Their calls were backed in recent weeks by US President Barack Obama as well as many governments, parliamentarians and NGOs around the world.”

The IOC’s continued response is that the minute’s silence would bring politics into the Olympic Games.


2 Responses to “A community remembers – Munich widows express disappointment”
  1. Judy says:

    I agree with what someone left on another Jewish website – the Israeli team should STOP MARCHING in the OPENING CEREMONY for ONE MINUTE – this would make the world notice the commemoration.

    When South Africa was in the sports wilderness because of the official system of Apartheid the athletes who played there would say “Sport is separate from politics – and even more so it should be that sport is separate from politics FOR THE OLYMPICS,

    In the Bible G-d told Moses that we, the Jews, are a “…stiff-necked people…” – I am sure IOC chief Jacques Rogge is not Jewish but he certainly is STIFF-NECKED – it’s a disgrace.

    And how apt his surname is – his refusal to change his view makers him appear a rogue and a scoundrel!

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    Ankie Spitzer was interviewed on ABC Radio last week, (no transcript but download available), a very commanding lady with a story to tell.
    A forgiving heart but one that never forgets.

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