Latest update: July 25th, 2012
“I said to myself, if this is the place where Andre and his friends spent the last hours of their life, I cannot shut up, I have to talk about it, I have to tell the world what happened in the Olympic village, the symbol of peace and brotherhood and good will and fair play, that this could happen in front of the eyes of billions of people and that nobody is even talking about it anymore. So this is my mission.” Ankie has been at the head of the mission ever since. All the while, she has raised the daughter she shares with Andre – Anuk, who was only 2 months old when Andre was killed – and the three children she had with her new husband, who she married a decade after the murder.
“My life goes on,” Ankie told Fleisher. “The only reason for this is to make sure that this will never happen again. That is the mission.”
In a rare display of solidarity with Israel, leaders from around the world have urged the Olympic committee to grant Israel the short moment of silence. US National Security Council spokesman Tommmy Vietor has said that President Barack Obama’s position is that “We absolutely support the campaign for a minute of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich”. The statement of support followed a condolence call President Obama placed on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following the murder of 5 Israeli tourists in Bulgaria
Last week, some 140 Italian parliamentarians signed a letter to Rogge calling for the memorial minute. Australian President Julia Gillard, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, and Flemish Sport Minister Philippe Muyters have also come out publicly in support of the memorial at the opening ceremony. In June, Canada’s House of Commons unanimously adopted a measure to remember the “tragic terrorist events of the 1972 Munich Olympics wherein 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.”
Though Rogge said “We also pay big attention to recommendations coming either from the political world, or cultural world, or world of enterprise,” the option of taking 60 seconds to memorialize the Israeli team was again rejected.
Yet organizers on behalf of the effort press on. Philanthropist, businessman, and staunch Jewish Republican Stanley Tate has initiated a campaign to place print ads in US and European newspapers in a last-ditch effort to force the memorial.
Already appearing in the Wall Street Journal, the ads will also be printed in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, London Times, LA newspapers, and elsewhere. According to NewsMax, Tate is quoted a saying that “one newspaper told me, ‘Don’t send money — we’re publishing for free.’”
Jewish organizations are also taking up the banner of the “Munich 11”, and throwing their weight behind the campaign for a moment of silence at the Olympic opening ceremonies. United With Israel, an organization highlighting a wide array of multimedia meant to showcase the greatness and positive spirit of Israel – with over 1.1 million “Likes” on Facebook – has executed the “Minute for Munich” campaign during which participants will stop for a moment of silence at 11:00 am on July 27, the morning of the opening ceremonies. Nu T-shirts, which makes T-shirts for charitable causes and donates 20% of all proceeds to the registered non-profit behind each cause, is selling a special “Just One Minute” T-shirt, made in Israel.
During the Games, Rogge said the IOC will investigate any claims of athletes who claim to pull out of competitions with Israelis because of alleged injuries. In the past, Iranian athletes have used this tactic to avoid competing with Israelis without facing Olympic sanctions. Plain refusal to compete against a particular competitor is “totally forbidden by the Olympic Charter,” according to Rogge, and subject to punishment.
In an interview by the Jewish Chronicle publicized by Huffington Post, Israeli International Olympics Committee member Alex Gilady said that the real reason the Olympic committee refuses to hold a memorial at the opening ceremonies is because officials thought a minute’s silence “may harm the unity of the Olympics” and “could cause some countries to boycott the Games.”
That theory was backed up by Ankie, who told Fleisher than when she and Ilana Romano attended the 1976 Montreal Olympics – the first Olympics following the fateful games in Munich – they were told by Olympic officials that “look, there are 21 Arab delegations, and if we are going to have a minute of silence, they will all get up and go, and I said…. let them go. If they don’t understand what the Olympics are about, they shouldn’t be here at all.”
“Now, just recently, when I travelled to Lausanne in Switzerland to be at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, [they said] then in Montreal there were 21 Arab delegations, today there are 46 Arab delegations. Our hands are tied, and there’s nothing we can do at this moment, it’s too early yet.”
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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