Friday, 27 July 2012

Just One Minute

I have vivid recollections of the horrors that occurred at the Twentieth Olympiad in Munich Germany. I was nine. Just old enough to understand the excitement that the games generated around the world. Just old enough to bear eternal scars from a terrorist attack broadcast live around the globe to millions, if not billions of witnesses. I recall with acute clarity the catch in ABC sports anchor Jim McKay's voice when he announced the failed rescue attempt and reported the murders of the eleven Israeli athletes and one brave German police officer. And I will never forget being rendered forever mute by the extreme lack of sensitivity and compassion displayed by then IOC President Avery Brundage when he declared that "the games must go on."

Much has been written by authors far more eloquent than I about the intransigence of the IOC and the lack of a moment of silence at tonight's opening ceremonies to commemorate the murders that occurred forty years ago today. The feeble excuses and shallow explanations made by the incredibly insular Lords of the Rings of not wanting to politicize games that are political by their very nature, ring tremendously hollow. A moment of silence was held in Atlanta after the bombings at the 1996 Games. When a member of the Georgian luge team was tragically killed in Vancouver, a moment of silence was held. Following the horrors of 9/11, a moment of silence was held at the 2002 Games. Only the Israeli athletes have not been formally recognized.

NBC's Olympic host Bob Costas has already signalled his intention to hold a moment of silence during tonight's Opening Ceremonies. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama have implored the IOC to change its collective narrow mind. This past Saturday IOC President Jacques Rogges observed a "spontaneous moment" without first informing or inviting the athletes' families. His gesture has been dismissed as inadequate and disappointing.

We have sadly become immune to random acts of terror. While other horrible acts of violence preceded those Games, the summer of 1972 marked the beginning of the nightmares still to come for my generation. We lost our innocence that summer. I cannot even pretend to comprehend how the victims of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora et al ad nauseum might feel if they were so easily dismissed and continually ignored by those we hold to a higher standard. Many around the world will be taking a moment of silence today regardless of whether or not the IOC deems it "appropriate". We can..... and we must..... take a moment in our communities today to remember those who came to Munich only wishing to compete in peace, but instead died in terror.  Zichronam Livracha.....May the memories of

David Berger
Ze’ev Friedman
Yossef Gutfreund
Eliezer Halfin
Yossef Romano 
Amitzur Shapira
Kehat Shorr
Mark Slavin
Andre Spitzer
Yakov Springer
Moshe Weinberg

and German police officer Anton Fliegerbauer forever be a blessing. 

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