The Olympic Spirit of Appeasement

Why the games' refusal to grant a moment of silence for the Munich Massacre signals weakness in the face of hate.

Recently it was announced that Great Britain’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Jeremy Hunt, will not join the international campaign for a moment of silence for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

There have been calls for a moment of silence from around the world. More than fifty members of the British Parliament have signed a motion. The effort is backed by the German Bundestag, about 100 Australian members of Parliament including the Prime Minister and the opposition leader, the Canadian Parliament and the US Senate both unanimously passed resolutions calling for a moment of silence.

The International Olympic Committee has dropped the ball by its decision not to hold a moment of silence at the Olympic Games.

It’s about much more than a moment of silence. It should be obvious that the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at an event that is suppose to represent global competition in the spirit of sporting events, must never be forgotten.

Ankie Spitzer, the widow of murdered fencer Andrei Spitzer, had been reluctant to level any accusations against the IOC, but following its most recent refusals to grant a moment of silence, she has leveled the charge of discrimination. She noted that two years ago at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, luge track slider Nodar Kumaritashvili died in a training accident and that there was a moment of silence at the opening of the Olympic Games, as well as speeches and condolences sent. “What’s the problem?” she asked the London Jewish Chronicle. "Is it because the Munich athletes were Israelis and Jews? I can only come to that conclusion.” Ms. Spitzer also stated that for many years the IOC has told her that the Arab nations would object to a memorial event.

In 1936, world athletes went to Berlin to compete in the Olympics while the Nazis used the games as window dressing to hide the persecutions already taking place in Nazi Germany since its rise in 1933. All the reasons given at the time in favor of participation in the Olympics played into the hands of the Nazi propaganda machine. The greatest motivation for participation was wishful thinking; feigning global unity while Nazi Germany was already a house of horrors. Ultimately, the world’s unwillingness to stand up to Nazi Germany during the 1930’s had enormous costs.

The unwillingness to pay homage to the victims of the Munich massacre says much; that the lessons from the past are being forgotten by many. It is symptomatic of the times in which we are living. Silence in the face of hate.

Jews in France today are living in daily fear of physical assault from Islamists. In Norway and Sweden, anti-Israel activities proliferate. Great Britain has also become a hot bed of Islamic activity. Recent radical Islamic revolutions in the wake of the "Arab Spring" threaten the stability of the Middle East where nations are now under radical Islamist rule. Egypt’s new leader rails against Israel before jeering crowds. Leaders of the Iranian regime level the most outrageous accusations against the Jews. Missiles rain upon Israeli cities from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists from the very territory which Israel withdrew seven years ago.

The opposing voices in Europe are too few.

In the aftermath of the Olympic tragedy of 1972 world leaders and the press expressed outrage. Forty years later the silence is deafening. Jew hatred in Europe is steadily on the rise and much of the world is silent as it had been in the 1930s. At the Olympic Games there is fear of offending the very perpetrators of hate. There is a spirit of appeasement in the air.

In 1936, the nations of the world sent their athletes to Berlin with the hope that there was still some unity or room for reconciliation, while Hitler was busy plotting and planning against his guests’ host nations. In 1972, the Olympic Games returned to Germany, this time Munich, where Arab enemies of the Jews murdered eleven Israeli athletes. In 2012, let’s hope the IOC reverses its decision and sends a clear message to the world.

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