The upcoming Summer Olympics in London – officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad – will last approximately 25,000 minutes. Apparently the organizers can’t spare one to remember 11 Israelis who were murdered at the Summer Games 40 years ago.
That’s what a group of activists, headed by the CEO of the Jewish Community Center in Rockland County, are hearing from International Olympic Committee.
Actually, David Kirschtel, who has for two years coordinated a drive (munich11.org) to include a minute of silence at the London Games, to mark the anniversary of the killings at Munich committed by the Black September Palestinian terrorist organization, has heard nothing from the IOC.
To remember the murdered Israelis – athletes and coaches, including Cleveland-born David Berger, who were taken hostage in the Olympic Village and killed in a shootout with German police at a Munich airport – the Rockland JCC has served as a shrine and memorial center for the terrorism victims, year, a statue and photos of the Israelis prominently displayed at the building.
Kirschtel, working with Ankie Spitzer, widow of murdered fencing coach Andrei Spitzer, wants the world, at least the part of the world attending or watching the quadrennial competition, to remember. The JCC, which has sponsored a series of memorial events, last month initiated an online petition that so far has gathered more than 25,000 signatures; its goal is a million.
Every year, the families of the murdered Israelis ask the IOC to schedule a moment of silence at the Summer Olympics. And every year the answer is no.
Recently, support for the minute of silence has grown. Two members of Congress, Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, both New York Democrats last week sent a letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge with the request; they plan to introduce a resolution to that effect in the House of Representative.
Anti-Defamation League National President Abraham Foxman also wrote Rogge. And a group of students at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, have also campaigned for a minute of silence. “I believe that this … is long overdue,” said Leszek Sibilski, a former member of Poland’s Olympic cycling team who teaches a “Sociology of Sports” course at the school.
Last week, in an apparent public relations gesture by the IOC, the torch that will be used to light the Olympic flame at the London Games’ opening ceremony, passed, for the first time, through Israel.
The Games start July 27.
Kirschtel and his fellow advocates are waiting for an answer about the minute of silence.
So far, the IOC is silent.