(Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}
In the global language of sport, there is a grand opera called the Olympics every few years. The world’s greatest compete and perform on the world stage for glory and entertainment.
In 1972, politics and poisonous hatred entered the forum, and 11 Israeli champions of sport were murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists.
For over 40 years, two wives of the slain athletes fought for a moment of remembrance for their husbands. The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused. This week that changed. Or did it?
On August 3, 2016, before the opening of the games in Rio, Brazil, the new IOC President Thomas Bach inaugurated the Place of Mourning, which will now be a feature at every Olympics, with two stones from ancient Olympia encased in glass. Bach said at the opening “Today, the inauguration of the Place of Mourning give us the opportunity to remember those that have passed away at the Olympic Games.”
He then read the names of ALL people who died at the Olympics – not just the murdered Israeli athletes. The role call included Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died on the eve of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in an accident in the sliding center.
And so politics entered the Olympics arena once again.
Palestinian Arabs objected to the memorial of the slain Israelis, just as many Arab countries refuse to recognize the existence of Israel, and their athletes refuse to compete against Israeli athletes.
So the IOC compromised on the request of the Israeli widows who had fought for decades for an appropriate memorial, by remembering them in a mass grave. The slain Israelis were no longer unique. They were not singled out and murdered by terrorists. The Israeli athletes were simply victims of their passionate competition, not terrorism.
The IOC recognized the Israelis only as athletes in an #AllLivesMatter moment. At the Olympics, it is JeSuisAthletes, not JeSuisIsraeli. The dead are the dead and we mourn them all.
However, the Israelis did not get the chance to compete. They did not die on the field, competing in the sports they loved. They were taken hostage as they slept in their beds. They were not seized as athletes, but as Israelis. These victims were individuals who came into the Olympic tent to compete with their fellow athletes, but the IOC failed to protect them.
The wives of the slain Israelis were happy that the IOC did not forgot their husbands and other members of the Israeli delegation. It has been a very long journey for them.
Yet it is disappointing that the best the IOC could muster was “AllAthletesMatter.
How to recognize an event, without admitting complicity: Austria’s View of Kristallnacht
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