In 1972, eleven members of the Israeli team at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Since then, for forty years, the families of the victims have implored the International Olympic Committee to observe a minute of silence in the memory of those murdered at the Games. Forty years worth of requests, all of them denied.
Then, in 2010, the Jewish Community Center of Rockland in New York contacted Ankie Spitzer, widow of Andrei Spitzer who was among those killed in the massacre at Munich, and offered to help the victims’ families in their quest by staging several events and launching a petition to be sent to the International Olympic Committee.
Their goal: one minute of silence in memory of the eleven Israeli athletes, coaches and referees murdered at the 1972 summer Olympics. Just one minute at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, and at every Olympic Game thereafter, as a way of promoting peace.
“These men were sons; fathers; uncles; brothers; friends; teammates; athletes. They came to Munich in 1972 to play as athletes in the Olympics; they came in peace and went home in coffins, killed in the Olympic Village and during hostage negotiations,” says Spitzer. “The families of the Munich 11 have worked for four decades to obtain recognition of the Munich massacre from the International Olympic Committee. We have requested a minute of silence during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics starting with the ’76 Montreal Games. Repeatedly, these requests have been turned down. The 11 murdered athletes were members of the Olympic family; we feel they should be remembered within the framework of the Olympic Games.”
Now, the victims’ families, with the help of the JCC of Rockland, are pressing their case to the International Olympic Committee by way of a petition that they hope will be signed by thousands of Jews.
“Silence is a fitting tribute for athletes who lost their lives on the Olympic stage,” explains Spitzer. “Silence contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret.”
The victims’ families, says Spitzer, have no political or religious agenda. “Just the hope that my husband and the other men who went to the Olympics in peace, friendship and sportsmanship are given what they deserve,” she says. “One minute of silence will clearly say to the world that what happened in 1972 can never happen again. Please do not let history repeat itself. We must remember their doctrine of the Olympic Spirit, ‘to build a peaceful and better world which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play,’ is more powerful than politics.”
For more information or to sign the petition, visit www.munich11.org.
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