Washington, July 27 - Fifteen members of Congress representing both parties held a minute of silence Thursday to honor the 11 Israelis killed in the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre and called on the International Olympic Committee to remember these victims of Palestinian terrorism during tonight's Opening Ceremony of the London games.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a simple message to the IOC: “Do the right thing.”
"For 40 years, the IOC has refused to hold a moment of silence at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians - including an American citizen, David Mark Berger - murdered by violent extremists at the 1972 Olympics in Munich,” she said.
“We know why the IOC has refused: Because the murdered Olympians were Israelis, and the IOC does not want to draw the ire of foreign governments who still object to the very existence of a Jewish state in the homeland of the Jewish people.”
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) slammed the IOC for refusing to honor the 11 Israelis at the opening ceremony.
“This is not a political issue, but a matter of human decency. The Munich 11 were part of the Olympic family, and IOC’s rejection thus far of a minute of silence is unacceptable. If this were any other nation but Israel there would have been a moment of silence a long time ago,” he said.
Engel also expressed disappointment in the Palestinians for objecting to the minute of silence.
“Now that the Palestinian Authority has officially thanked the IOC for their choice to ignore their murdered athletes, I think the IOC should be utterly ashamed of themselves. So much for the Olympic spirit,” the New York Democrat said.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said there was still time for the IOC to change its mind. “I am hopeful that the IOC will reconsider its decision before tomorrow’s opening ceremony, but in the meantime, I am standing with my colleagues today to give the 11 Israeli lives that were lost the moment of remembrance they deserve.”
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) said the Olympics were supposed to represent fraternity and healthy competition. “Honoring the Munich 11 would show the world that every Olympian is part of a family, one that is stronger than prejudice and acts of hatred.”
Both President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have supported the call for the IOC to hold a moment of silence.
IOC President Jacques Rogge has said the opening ceremony is not a fitting venue to remember the murdered athletes who died in a botched rescue attempt after they were taken hostage by Black September Palestinian terrorists. Yet at the 1996 opening ceremony, former IOC President Juan Samaranch spoke about the Bosnian war. And at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, the horror of Sept. 11 was vividly called to mind
Rogge held a private ceremony for the Israelis in the Athletes’ Village earlier this week attended by around 100 people.
Many believe, as the Boston Globe reported this week, that the IOC’s stance is purely political.
“A moment of silence for the 11 murdered Israelis would cast an ugly shadow on the Palestinian cause.That is an outcome too many regimes will not abide — and the IOC, it seems clear, lacks the backbone or the integrity to cross them,” the newspaper said.
NBC chief Olympic anchor Bob Costas called the committee’s decision “baffling” and said he would lead a tribute himself on air.
“I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling, but insensitive. Here’s a minute of silence right now,” Costas said.
The New York Daily News said in an editorial: “A single, simple moment of silence at the London Olympics to pay tribute to the memories of those savagely killed in Munich — one minute set aside in Games that will last 24,480 minutes — is just moral common sense.”
These are the athletes who were murdered at Munich: David Mark Berger. Ze’ev Friedman. Yossef Gutfreund . Eliezer Halfin. Yossef Romano. Amitzur Shapira. Kehat Shorr. Mark Slavin. Andre Spitzer. Yakov Springer. Moshe Weinberg.