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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Israeli athletes’

Choosing Shame Over Honor

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Lives can change in 60 seconds, worlds end and new ones begin. Sixty seconds is all it can take sometimes. Sixty seconds where you don’t pay attention on the road as a child runs after a ball; 60 seconds for a couple to become a family as a child is born and placed in his mother’s arms for the first time; 60 seconds when an ill-prepared rescue attempt can turn to disaster and strong men who came in peace can be turned into victims of an ongoing war called terror.

On September 4, 1972, Palestinian terrorists violated the spirit and purpose of the Olympics, bringing violence and death to 11 Israeli athletes. This happened in Munich, in Germany.

To remember, to read about those tragic hours of terror is to read about courage and bravery on the part of the Israelis at they struggled, within themselves, to save their teammates. Those who saw them in the hours before the bungled German rescue attempt, spoke of the dignity of the Israeli athletes. In their deaths, they showed the best of what Israel is and the best of what Israel had brought to the Olympic Games. In dignity, the Israeli team departed after the massacre, and in great shame, the world continued to play as if…as if nothing had happened.

There was no honor among the Palestinian murderers, no honor in gunning down and murdering innocent, unarmed athletes that came to celebrate what was supposed to be the one moment in time the world would join to pursue sports and not war. In their actions, the Palestinians showed the worst of Palestinian society.

Of the German actions, I cannot write. I want to believe their incompetence was not a sign of apathy. I want to believe there was honor in their trying to save the Israelis, the Jews, who had come to German soil to participate in the world games. I want to believe and sometimes I do. I can only imagine their horror that Jews, including at least one Holocaust survivor, had become victims of terror on German soil. I want to feel bad for them but while they may or may not have been responsible for the ultimate failure of the rescue (and the horrendously inadequate security that allowed this to happen in the first place), my heart is too full with sorrow to find compassion for their dismay.

And finally, there was no honor in the cowardice and insensitive actions of the International Olympics Committee – then, and now. They failed – from the start, through the attack, and after. They failed to adequately prepare; they failed during the negotiations. They failed, most dramatically, in recognizing the magnitude of the horror that had played out before their eyes. They failed, and evenworse, lack even the dignity to admit that in their actions, they sanction forgetting or ignoring the results of their failures.

The Palestinian group came to murder, and murder they did. I remember the Munich Olympics, though I was a young girl at the time. I remember waiting for hours hoping the Israelis would be released. Believing that Jews would not die as hostages on German soil. I remember wishing they would let the Israeli army come in and save them but having faith that the Germans could beat terrorists. I was wrong. The German army wasn’t allowed to run the operation – this was done by two politicians and a police officer. Later it was learned that it’s possible some of the hostages were even killed by the German police.

I remember the bungled attempt the Germans made to save the Israelis, of begging to be told that somehow at least one had survived. I remember the joy when we heard the hostages were all safe…and the incredible agony of learning not a single one had survived. I remember the fury when I later read that the “sharpshooters” were not trained professionals but merely men who had shot competitively on weekends. This is what they sent to fight terrorists!

And finally, I remember in the midst of my tears the absolute sense of betrayal and shock to hear that the games would continue, even as Israel pulled into itself to bury its dead.

Forty Years Since Munich

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

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With the fortieth anniversary of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany rapidly approaching, Yishai presents a series of clips from “One Day in September”, a documentary made about the massacre and the events that led up to and resulted from the murder of Israeli athletes. Following the riveting clips, Yishai presents an interview with Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Andre Spitzer, one of the athletes that were murdered by Arab terrorists in Munich. Do not miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Olympic Gold Medal for Lying and Sanctimony Goes to…

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Europe has temporarily forgotten its financial problems. This is the summer of sports. In June the European football (soccer) championships are being held in Poland and Ukraine. In July, there will be three weeks of the Tour de France, the world’s most famous cycling race. And by August, Europeans will be watching this year’s Summer Olympics in London.

As usual, however, the Olympics are tarnished by ugly politics. Forty years ago, the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich were marred by the murder of eleven Israeli athletes by the Palestinian terror group Black September. As the London Olympics are the tenth Olympic games since the Munich Olympics, relatives of the murdered Israeli athletes believe it would be appropriate if, during the ceremonies in London, a moment of silence were held for the eleven athletes massacred in Munich. Up till now the Olympic Games have never officially commemorated the murdered athletes with such a moment.

Normally, when an athlete dies, the International Olympic Committee honors him with a minute of silence. Two years ago, the 21-year old Georgian athlete, the luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, suffered a fatal crash during a training run for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge expressed his condolences on behalf of the entire Olympic community during his opening speech, while the Canadian and Olympic flags were flown at half-staff.

The same Jacques Rogge, a Count from Belgium, refuses to include such a moment of remembrance for the eleven murdered Israeli athletes, despite the fact that Rogge himself was present at the Munich Olympics as a member of the Belgian sailing team.

In 2004, Ankie Rekhess, a Dutch-born Israeli journalist and the widow of Andrei Spitzer, one of the athletes murdered in Munich, confronted Rogge during a press conference in Athens. “You yourself are an Olympic athlete,” she said. “Hence, you are a brother of the eleven murdered athletes. Why don’t you remember them in front of all other athletes? This concerns the entire Olympic family.” Rekhess received a standing ovation from the 300 people present in the room. However, in his reply, Rogge rejected the request, referring instead to friendship, sportivity and the necessity to keep politics out of sports.

For forty years, Ankie Rekhess has been working her way through the hierarchy of the Olympic Games, seeking to obtain a moment of silence for her husband and his colleagues. In 1996, she was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times after the rejection of her request for a similar moment during the Atlanta Olympics, the first one in which Palestine took part. “I don’t want to condemn anyone,” she said. “I simply want recognition for 11 athletes who came home in coffins 24 years ago.” Today, another 16 years later, Rekhess still has has not managed to persuade the Olympic Committee to honor those who were killed because they believed in the Olympic ideals.

After the Munich massacre in 1972, Rekhess saw the room where the athletes had been tortured and mutilated. “I saw pictures of what they had done to them and vowed no one would ever forget. That is why I want the moment of silence… to remember them all.”

In Simon Reeve’s 2001 book One Day in September, Ankie Rekhess recalls her husband’s idealism and attitude towards the Olympics: “[While strolling in the Olympic Village] he spotted members of the Lebanese team, and told [me] he was going to go and say hello to them… I said to him, ‘Are you out of your mind? They’re from Lebanon!’ Israel was at war with Lebanon at the time. ‘Ankie,’ Andre said calmly, ‘that’s exactly what the Olympics are all about. Here I can go to them, I can talk to them, I can ask them how they are. That is exactly what the Olympics are all about.’ So he went… towards this Lebanese team, and… asked them, ‘How were the results? I’m from Israel and how did it go?’ And to my amazement, I saw that the [Lebanese] responded and they shook hands with him and they talked to him and they asked him about his results. I’ll never forget, when he turned around and came back towards me with this huge smile on his face. ‘You see!’ said Andre excitedly. ‘This is what I was dreaming about. I knew it was going to happen!’”

Petition for London Olympics Moment of Silence Honoring Munich Athletes Needs Your Signature

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

An online petition headlined “Tell the International Olympic Committee: 40 Years is Enough!” is urging the  International Olympic Committee (IOC) to honor, at the Olympic Games this summer, the memory of 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered at the 1972 Olympics in Munich by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.

The Jewish Community Center of Rockland County, N.Y. initiated the petition. The Jewish Federations of North America is asking communities to support the petition, which is attempting to gather 1 million signatures. So far a little more than 6,500 have signed.

Written by Ankie Spitzer, the wife of Andrei Spitzer, who was killed at the Munich Olympics, the petition reads:

“I am asking for one minute of silence for the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes, coaches and referees murdered at the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich. Just one minute — at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and at every Olympic Game, to promote peace.”

“The Jewish Community Center movement is deeply involved in an effort to create a worldwide viral response to a wrong that has not been addressed since 1972,” JCC  Association President and CEO Allan Finkelstein told JTA. He added, “Let us finally get the Munich 11 acknowledgement and respect they deserve from the international sports community.”

The JCC Association has recognized the Munich 11 during every Maccabiah Games since 1995.

In an official letter to the IOC, Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon also asked that the London 2012 Olympic Games begin with a minute of silence in memory of the murdered Israeli athletes.

Ayalon stressed that past events in the history of the Olympic Games, good as well as bad, should be commemorated in a fitting manner.

Ayalon said that the Olympic Games are based on the principles of equality and brotherhood and added, “We must remain vigilant against acts of hate and intolerance that stand in contrast to the ideals of the international Olympics.”

Ayalon gave a copy of the letter to Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, the widows of two of the murdered athletes, and expressed his support of a petition they initiated calling for the minute of silence.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/petition-for-london-olympics-moment-of-silence-honoring-munich-athletes-needs-your-signature/2012/04/25/

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