Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Olympic opening ceremony reveals hypocrisy of the IOC refusal to honour Munich massacre victims

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As expected, the Olympic opening ceremony was held on July 28 without a minute's silence to honour the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes, who were brutally murdered by members of the Palestinian terrorist group ‘Black September' forty years ago at the Munich Olympics.

However, many were disgusted by the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) refusal to agree to such a tribute and provided their own remembrance of Munich. In support of the cause, during the American broadcast, Bob Costas silenced his microphone for five seconds to honour the Munich victims. In another show of solidarity, some 30 members of the Italian Olympic delegation held a moment of silence at the entrance to the Israeli delegation's residential compound in London.

Meanwhile, the IOC's hypocrisy was on full display during the opening ceremony. The IOC claimed that they would not hold the minute's silence in order not to sadden the joyful occasion as IOC President Jacques Rogge explained, "We feel that the Opening Ceremony is an atmosphere that is not conducive to remembering such a tragic incident." However, the opening ceremony dedicated nearly six minutes to a choreographed commemoration of the July 7, 2005 London bombings. Moreover, past Olympic ceremonies have also honoured sad occasions, as a previous AIJAC blog post noted. Therefore, the IOC excuse does not stand up to scrutiny, and it has become increasingly clear that that the real reason why the Munich victims were not honoured in the ceremony was because they were Israeli.

As Jonathan Tobin wrote in Commentary Magazine website:

"... as it turned out, those who produced the opening ceremonies were not opposed to commemorating the victims of terrorist violence, just to remembering Israeli victims... While there were those who speculated that prejudice against Jews and Israelis was at the heart of the IOC's decision prior to Friday, the surprising inclusion of the 7/7 attacks as a major element in the ceremony confirms that this was the case. The only possible conclusion to be drawn from this is that the Olympic movement considers Jewish blood shed by terrorists at an Olympics to be somehow less significant than that of other victims...

When Ankie Spitzer, the widow of one of the Munich victims and a driving force behind the effort to ask for a moment of silence at the Olympics, met this week with IOC head Jacques Rogge, she asked him if the reason he could not give up one moment from his precious TV show was that those who died 40 years ago were Israelis. He did not answer. But we now know that was the case... For the Olympic Committee, like the United Nations and the rest of an international community, there are always different rules for Jews. And chief of those rules is that Jewish blood is cheap."

Similarly, Guri Weinberg, son of Moshe Weinberg, the wrestling coach murdered at the 1972 Olympics also describes his cold reception from IOC official Alex Gilady in 1996, who equated the murder of the Israeli athletes at Munich with the deaths of the Palestinian terrorists. Gilady has been a member of the IOC's Radio and Television Commission since 1984 and has been the senior vice president of NBC Sports since 1996. Weinberg wrote:

"I have known Mr. Gilady since I was a kid; in fact, I grew up with his daughter. He had been supportive in the past regarding our plea for a moment of silence during the Opening Ceremonies, so we arrived with high hopes. Gilady informed us that a moment of silence was not possible because if the IOC had a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes, they would also have to do the same for the Palestinians who died at the Olympics in 1972.
My mother said, 'But no Palestinian athletes died.'
Gilady responded, 'Well, there were Palestinians who died at the 1972 Olympics.'
I heard one of the widows say to Gilady, 'Are you equating the murder of my husband to the terrorists that killed him?'
Silence.
Then Ilana Romano burst out with a cry that has haunted me to this day. She screamed at Gilady, 'How DARE you! You KNOW what they did to my husband! They let him lay there for hours, dying slowly, and then finished him off by castrating him and shoving it in his mouth, ALEX!'
I looked at Gilady's face as he sat there, stone cold with no emotion. This man knew these athletes personally. This man led the Israeli media delegation at the 1972 Olympics and saw this atrocity first hand. This man saw my father's dead, naked body thrown out front of the Olympic Village for all the world to see.
Without a hint of empathy, Gilady excused himself from our meeting.

That's when I understood that the IOC wasn't turning us down because of their resistance to politics. Rather, it was due to the specific politics the IOC apparently still embraces. Based on its history of Nazi support, greed and the blood on their own hands for inciting the PLO, they would never support Israeli athletes."

Weinberg also notes the dark past of previous IOC officials:

"Recently, new information about the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games was released by German police as a result of pressure from German investigative reporters. It was reported that the 'Black September' terrorists were helped by a Nazi group in Germany to get fake IDs, weapons and access to the Olympic Village.
This was not too shocking, as the head of the IOC in 1972 was Avery Brundage, a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite. His protege, Juan Samaranch, eventually served the second longest IOC term as president, but his support of Nazis and the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco was kept a dirty secret. Most IOC members knew the truth but stayed silent because he organized a regal lifestyle for them -- with money diverted from sport."

The IOC may have been concerned that if the minute's silence occurred oil rich Arab delegations that fund the organisation would quit the Olympics, but in doing so they have given into antisemitic attitudes that place little value on Israeli and/or Jewish life.

When Rogge told Ankie Spitzer that his "hands were tied" by political considerations, "No," Spitzer claims she responded, "my husband's hands were tied, not yours."

Sharyn Mittelman

 

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