Forty years later, the Olympic games will again be stained with disgrace.
It was the worst terrorist attack in sports history, but the Olympic cupola capitulated to the Arabs' terroristic ransom and has forsaken Israel, again.
The brave widows of two of the Israeli victims have campaigned to hold a commemoration, either through a moment of silence or a short mention in the Committee president’s opening remarks. Along with 89,000 other people, I signed their petition, but it was ineffective.
The widows and the people of Israel deserved a minute of silence, if only to ease the emotional pain. But the Committee choose infamy, disgrace and capitulation to jihadism.
“We want the Olympic Committee, with all 10,000 young athletes in front of them, to say, ‘Let us not forget what happened in Munich’”, said Ankie Spitzer, whose husband, Andre, was one of the Israeli athletes who had come in peace, to participate in the 20th Olympiad, not just to any country, but to Munich, the city that spawned Adolf Hitler, a mere 20 miles south of Dachau. When they left Germany, 11 were dead, 17 remained out of 28 - just about the same 40 percent.
There’s nothing like the Olympic Games to bring out collective feelings of peace and fair competition, and the memory of the Israelis had a chance of becoming a reality in London.
The massacre of the Israeli team is not just a tragedy for the Jewish State or even for the Olympics, but for the entire world. The building that housed the Israeli athletes was located less than 10 miles from the Dachau concentration camp. They were the first Jews killed in Germany for being Jewish since 1945. The Games lost their meaning that day, and by refusing to hold a memorial for the Israelis, the committee killed the games (and the memory of the eleven Israelis) for the second time. Since then, their murders have vanished from international memory.
If one is to identify a beginning of the slaughtering of Israeli civilians, one must return to 31 Connollystrasse in the Olympic Village of Munich. The apartment building today bears little resemblance to a place forever linked with the darkest hours in European post-Holocaust history.
The political objectives of the Games of 1972 were to bury the memory of the infamous 1936 Nazi Olympics, and to celebrate “the new Germany” as a member of the family of nations. The objective was evident in the color of the Games. Red and black, the colors of Communist and Nazi totalitarianism, were nowhere to be seen at Munich. In their place, the colors used were of “a may morning in Bavaria.” Friendly colors: grass green, sky blue, cloudlike silver and touches of "flowery orange.”
"Harbiya! Terroristen! Haverim, lehu maher!'' The cry rang out in Hebrew at 4:30 a.m., Sept. 5, 1972, as Yossef Gutfreund, the Israeli wrestling coach, slammed against the door of Apartment 1, 31 Connollystrasse. '"Arabs! Terrorists! Comrades, get out fast!'' For twenty seconds Gutfreund struggled, trying to buy time, one man against eight Arabs. Later the police would find the hinges twisted on the door.
Some Israelis slipped through a back door, but nine were seized and tied to furniture. The terrorists demanded 200 Palestinians jailed in Israel be freed.
The response of the Olympic organizers to the sullying of their games with violence was a series of shameful capitulations to terrorism.
On the day of the attack, the games at first continued, despite the knowledge that two Israelis were dead and nine remained hostage.
When the full tragedy became known, the games were halted for only part of one day. The German government, together with the Committee, rallied under the slogan “the Games must go on.” The shameful decision not to bring everything to a halt was morally bankrupt, and gave a green light for future massacres of innocent Jews.
What could have been more repugnant than the massacre of innocent athletes carried out at the Olympic Games? But the attack became a great media event that stressed the “occupation” of Palestine, and not a terrorist attack against the Jewish people on German soil after the Holocaust. The cowboy hats and the kefiyyehs of the Arab kidnappers, along with their long hair similar to libertarian university students, diverted attention from a simple reality: a band of Islamic terrorists slaughtered, one by one, eleven Jews.
The same happened during the first Intifada, when violent Palestinians attacked Israeli civilians and security forces with stones, iron bars, iron projectiles, knives, axes and petrol bombs, but the terrorists were described in the international media as “demonstrators” - even “peaceful protesters.”
Each of Israeli athletes' stories calls up weeping and prayer. Every one of them was a member of the great body of Israel.
Like Yosef Romano, who the day before he was killed had said, “This is my last competition; I don’t have enough time for my children.”
Like David Berger, an idealist and pacifist Jew from Cleveland, who was supposed to get married after returning from the Olympics.
Like Mark Slavin, who kissed the Jewish soil upon his arrival in Israel from Minsk, where he had fought against the Communists who imprisoned thousands of Jews who, like him, wanted to reach Jerusalem.
Like Ze’ev Friedman, who spoke a wonderful mixture of Yiddish and Russian and was the last male of his family, incinerated in the gas chambers.
Like Kehat Schorr, who had fought against the Nazi troops in the Carpathian Mountains.
Like Yakov Springer, who was one of the few survivors of the armed revolt in the Warsaw ghetto.
Like Eliezer Halfin, who had lost all his relatives in the Holocaust.
Like Yosef Gutfreund, who spent months in prison in communist Romania under the accusation of “Zionist propaganda.”
The Olympic refusal to commemorate the Israelis shows again that we live in a time when death of Jews is celebrated and romanticized and terrorism is stronger than appeasement.
My fellow journalists based in Israel prefer not seeing the dormitories, the schools, the streets, the sports arenas and the events named by the Palestinian Authority after Munich's killers, like Abou Daoud. And when legions of “martyrs” started blowing themselves up in the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Afula, and then in London, Madrid, Bali and New York, how many Western intellectuals and journalists expressed a lame empathy for the terrorist rage?
The next distribution of Olympic medals will be stained in disgrace. When the Olympic Games will open in London, someone should go to 31 Connollystrasse in Munich. And leave a flower for all of us. We can't forget Jim McKay, voice breaking, crying, as he told America, ''they're all gone."
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