The Olympic Moment


Published July 16, 2012, issue of July 20, 2012.

Even though there is just about no chance the International Olympic Committee is going to change its mind before the XXX Summer Games begin July 27, Ankie Spitzer is not giving up. And neither should we.

The widow of Andrei Spitzer — the fencing coach for the 1972 Israeli Olympic team — has been doggedly pursuing her own Olympic goal ever since her husband and 10 others were murdered by the Black September terrorist group in Munich 40 years ago. All she wants is a moment of silence, observed by the delegations of the 205 countries participating in the London games — a simple public recognition of the horrific events that needs to happen now, finally now, before memories fade and loved ones die.

But the IOC stubbornly refuses, contending that its members regularly pay tribute to the fallen athletes and coaches at memorial receptions held by the Israelis. That’s nice of them. An Israeli commemoration, however, is no substitute for an expression of mourning by the entire Olympic community. It sends a completely different message.

The nationalistic quality of the Munich massacre cannot be ignored. The victims, though they hailed from many different countries, were there as Israelis. That is why they died. Black September did not commit a random act of terror; theirs was a targeted political statement.

But to hide behind that political message as the IOC seems to be doing, and to pretend somehow that honoring the victims takes a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is deeply offensive and morally repugnant. A moment of silence, instead, sends this message: Terror is not a welcome participant in the Games. Ever.

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