Sideshow Moment of Silence for “Munich Massacre”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the “Munich Massacre,” during which the Israeli Olympic Team was held hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian terror group, Black September. For many years Israeli officials and activists, as well as many in the international community, have been advocating for a moment of silence before the Olympic Games in commemoration of those who were killed, but the International Olympic Committee has consistently failed to honor this request. As we commemorate the 40 years that have passed since this tragic day, the IOC has been under particular pressure to observe such a moment of silence but has always resisted.
However, on Saturday the president of the IOC, Jacques Rogges, “spontaneously” observed a public moment of silence with the rest of the Committee. This moment marked the first time that there has been public mention of the attacks in the athletes’ village.
While the attacks certainly deserve to be commemorated, this was not the kind of memorial that Israeli or American officials had envisioned: Danny Ayalon, who has been a leader in the campaign for a moment of silence, had hoped that tribute would instead be paid at the Opening Ceremony, where it would be nationally televised to hundreds of millions of people. Israeli officials have criticized Rogges’ speech, suggesting that it was a politically-motivated sideshow instead of a heartfelt, international memorial.
Recently President Obama called for such a moment of silence at the Olympics and yesterday members of Congress, including Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) held moments of silence both on the floor of Congress and then on the Capitol grounds.
Bob Costas, the NBC sports correspondent covering the Olympic Games, had made public his plans to institute his own moment of silence as the Israeli Olympic team enters the stadium during the opening ceremony. He has not indicated whether he considers Rogges’ actions to be sufficient.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding this year’s Olympic Games, we can take time in our own communities to remember the victims. In a statement released on Wednesday, the World Union called upon its 1200 affiliated congregations and communities around the world to read the names and honor the memories of the following 11 martyrs during worship and other public events while the Games are on:
We also recall with gratitude the sacrifice of German Police Officer Anton Fliegerbauer who gave his life fighting the terrorists.
May their memories remain with us for blessing.