Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Canada joins call for minute's silence to honour victims of Munich massacre

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Following my previous blog post on the subject, the campaign to have a minute's silence at the upcoming Olympic Games in memory of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich games 40 years ago appears to be gathering steam internationally. Senior Australian leaders including both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, and now the Canadian Parliament have joined in the call, despite the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having already rejected an appeal by the Israeli government in May.

Canada became the first parliament to pass a motion on this issue, when the House of Commons voted unanimously on June 13 to join Israel in calling for a moment of silence at the London Olympic Games to honour the Munich victims. The motion was made by Liberal MP and former Attorney-General of Canada Irwin Cotler. Cotler praised the passage of the motion, saying it was:

"part of our responsibility to remember the victims of this terrorist assault 40 years ago...I am delighted that the Canadian Parliament is the first to unanimously support this call... I am pleased that all parties have worked together in common cause and hope the IOC will accede to our request."

The Times of Israel also reported that last week Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird sent a letter to IOC head Jacques Rogge voicing disappointment with the IOC's refusal to grant the moment of silence at the games. On Monday, Baird followed up his letter with a phone call to Rogge to reiterate his support for the measure, according to Canadian newspaper The National Post. Baird's letter, co-signed by Canadian Sports Minister Bal Gosal stated in part:

"Unfortunately, this response is unacceptable as it rejects the central principles of global fraternity on which the Olympic ideal is supposed to rest... Given the impact of this tragedy, on the Olympic community as a whole and the world, it should be marked publicly."

Australia may have started the ‘political' ball rolling on this campaign, when a number of senior Australian political leaders including the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader showed bi-partisan support for the ‘minute silence' campaign by signing a letter to the IOC. The letter states:

"The families of the Munich 11 have worked for four decades to obtain recognition of the Munich massacre from the International Olympic Committee... Repeatedly, these requests have been turned down. The 11 murdered athletes were members of the Olympic family and should be remembered within the framework of the Olympic Games... Silence is a fitting tribute for athletes who lost their lives on the Olympic stage. Silence contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret."

The Australian Jewish News reported that Australian leaders who have signed the letter include:

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Opposition leader Tony Abbott

National Party leader Warren Truss

Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Treasurer Wayne Swan

Defence Minister Stephen Smith

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet

Resource Minister Martin Ferguson

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen

Malcolm Turnbull MP

Michael Danby MP

Josh Frydenberg MP

Anthony Albanese MP

Kevin Andrews MP

Kelly O'Dwyer MP

Chris Pyne MP

Eric Abtez MP

Andrew Robb MP

David Johnston MP

Peter Dutton MP

Glenn Sterle MP

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell

The Australian Jewish News has also promoted a letter writing campaign, and so far over 500 people have signed copies of the letter, and there is still time to submit more letters.

If you are interested in sending a letter to the IOC to add your voice to the campaign for a minute's silence to honour the memory of the victims of the Munich massacre, you can download a copy of the letter here.

 

Sharyn Mittelman

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