Latest update: July 25th, 2012
One of the best known sportscasters in America may soon make history by defying the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decree that it would not honor the memory of the murdered 1972 Israeli Olympic team, and conducting an on-air memorial of his own.
Bob Costas, famed NBC sportscaster and regular frontline broadcaster of the Olympic games, told The Hollywood Reporter that he would not stand behind the IOC’s “baffling” decision to deny Israel’s request for a moment of silence to acknowledge the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by Palestinian terrorists 40 years ago at the 1972 games in Munich, Germany, and that he would take it upon himself to highlight the injustice during his broadcast of the London games opening ceremonies on July 27.
If officials of the Olympics continue to refuse to honor the victims with a moment of silence, Costas says “I intend to note that the IOC denied the request,” he tells THR. “Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. [So] Here’s a minute of silence right now.”
Costas intends to take his stand for the slain Olympians as the Israeli delegation enters the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium.
IOC president Jacques Rogge rejected Israel’s call on Saturday for a special observance to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the murder. “We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident, Rogge was reported as saying by Sports Illustrated.
Rogge said the IOC will honor the memory of the victims at a reception in London during the games on August 5th, and that IOC officials would attend a ceremony at the military airfield of Furstenfeldbruck in Germany on September 5, the location at which most of the Israelis were killed.
During the second week of the summer games in Munich, eight members of the Black September Palestinian militant organization entered the Olympic Village, killed wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg and weightlifter Yossef Romano, and took 9 members of the Israeli team hostage.
Due to a botched rescue attempt by German police and intelligence officials, the terrorists killed all of their hostages - weightlifters Ze’ev Friedman, David Berger, and Yakov Springer, wrestlers Eliezer Halfin, Mark Slavin and Yossef Gutfreund, track coach Amitzur Shapira, fencing master Andre spritzer, and shooting coach Kehat Shorr – at the Furstenfeldbruck airport, where they had transported the hostages after demanding the release of 234 Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails and all members of the German Red Army Faction being held in German prisons.
During the operation, German police killed five of the eight assassins. Israeli agents later tracked down and killed the other three.
The effort to win the victims a minute of silence at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games has been underway since the attack took place in 1972. Led by Ankie Spitzer – widow of Andre Spitzer – with support from widow of Yossef Romano, Ilana, awareness for the cause has grown, with a petition placed on Change.org garnering over 100,000 signatures from around the world.
In an exclusive interview with the Jewish Press’s Yishai Fleisher, Ankie said that while she is not obsessed with the Munich massacre and does much with her life other than fight for the memorial, “There’s no way around it…. 40 years have passed but it goes with me, I think probably until the last day of my life. I was there, I saw what happened in the room, I saw how they were tortured and how they killed one of them in the Olympic village, just a few hours after it happened, and the memory of this will never go away.”
“Right after the massacre, those who survived were asked to pick up the personal belongings of those who were killed, and I asked to be the one to go and gather Andre’s stuff. So they didn’t want to let me go there, because they were held hostage for 21 hours in his room, and that’s also where they killed Yossef Romano and physically tortured him. But I insisted by I wanted to do that, but when I came to the building where the Israelis were housed in the Olympic village in Munich, I opened the front door and I wanted to go upstairs because that is where Andre’s room was, and I looked at the staircase, which the blood of Yossef Romano… came down the stairs… I decided that I have to see the place where Andre and his other teammates spent the last hours of their lives. So I did go up and the chaos was just indescribable. You cannot imagine, Yishai…”
About the Author: Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
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