It would be much more inspiring, perhaps, to hear Hatikvah played as an Israeli athlete stood atop the podium at the London Olympic Games, but that’s not likely to happen. Nor will there be any official commemoration of the tragic massacre of 11 Israelis in Munich 40 years ago.
Families of the slain victims, all murdered by Palestinian terrorists, had gathered in London after mounting a global campaign urging the International Olympic Committee to conduct a moment of silence — a U.S. Senate, the German Bundestag, the Canadian and Australian parliaments, some 50 members of the British Parliament, the Israeli government, and worldwide Jewish organizations. But the IOC declared such a moment would be “inappropriate.”
What they won’t do for us, we do for ourselves. As this year’s opening ceremonies were about to take place last Friday, more than 20,000 people in various venues in London attended a brief program entitled “Minute for Munich” put on by the British Zionist Federation. The service was held at the Israeli Embassy.
Meanwhile, about 200 people marked the occasion in Trafalgar Square, reciting memorial prayers and lighting memorial candles. Afterwards, they waved British and Israeli flags.
“The British Jewish community is showing its solidarity with ... Israel,” the British Israel Coalition’s Ari Soffer told the crowd, according to the London Jewish Chronicle.
Newspapers around the world chimed in.
“Is it really impossible for the mighty Olympic movement to find a proper way to honor the memory,” asked the Toronto Star. “The Olympics have no excuse for ignoring the Munich massacre,” said the Philadelphia Daily News. Similar sentiments were expressed in papers as diverse as the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, and the New York Post.
Little noticed was the news that Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, had written to IOC President Jacques Rogge to praise his refusal to commemorate the slain Israelis as “a victory for sports,” which, he added, “must not be a cause of division and the spreading of racism.”
The supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority has long hailed what it calls “the Munich Operation” as a “shining station.” According to MEMRI, which monitors the Palestinian media, after massacre mastermind Abu Daoud’s death in 2010, he was described in PA papers as “one of the most important leaders of the Palestinian revolution.”
The newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported last week that in fact the German Embassy in Beirut received a tip-off from a Palestinian informant three weeks before the 1972 Olympics that an “incident” was being planned for the Games. The Foreign Ministry in Bonn urged the secret service in Munich to take “all possible security measures.” But the Munich authorities failed to act on the tip, and have never acknowledged it. The article in Der Spiegel suggests this is only part of a 40-year cover-up.
Tears come either way. Hatikvah has always been as poignant as Kaddish.
Kenneth Lasson is a law professor at the University of Baltimore.