Tag: olympics

TISHA B’AV & THE IOC: IGNORING ’72 ISRAELI MARTYRS AND TERRORISM AS MORAL, POLITICAL FAILURES

CANADIAN INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH RESEARCH

 

TISHA B’AV: THE NINTH OF AV
Baruch Cohen

 

Tisha B’av (The Ninth of Av) is the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, our enemies are calling again for the destruction of our Temple, Israel’s Capital, the Capital of the Jewish People: Jerusalem.

 

We, today’s Jews, must not forget or ignore the ongoing calls to destroy Israel and Jerusalem. Tisha B’av must be a clear reminder; we must alert our people, and the world, to the real danger which the State of Israel faces.

 

Tisha B’av recalls the terrible price, the enormous sacrifices, paid during our history, for our existence as Am Israel, and for the State of Israel. Today, Am Israel Chai, the people of Israel Lives!

 

Zionism, more than any other movement in our modern history, has successfully brought us together—Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, socialist, liberal, right-winger, left-winger. We are Am Ehad, one people, and we have One Israel, One State.

 

Strong, and always united, together, under one indestructible Rock, one flag, one unique banner of Zionism: we are the People of Israel, the State of Israel.

 

Am Israel Chai!

 

Long live the Eternal People and the State of Israel!

 

(Baruch Cohen is Research Chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)

 

[In a sad Tisha B’Av moment the London Olympics
begin without recognizing Israel’s 1972 martyrs—Ed
.]

 

FORMER OLYMPIAN ALON REMEMBERS ‘72 MASSACRE
David Roumani

Jerusalem Post, July 19, 2012

 

As this year’s Israeli delegation [of Olympic athletes] prepares to head to London to compete in the 2012 Olympics, [they] will surely remember the courageous athletes from the ‘72 Munich Games.

An event that took place Tuesday evening [July 17] in Talpiyot shed light on what the Olympics represent.

“The Olympics are a symbol of freedom and peace between nations” said Dan Alon, an Olympic Fencer from the ‘72 Israeli delegation, to a large crowd at the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel (AACI).

Alon, a survivor of the Munich Massacre, is featured in the documentary “The Eleventh Day: The Survivors of Munich ‘72”

Alon began fencing when he was only twelve years old and quickly made a name for himself, earning bragging rights as Israel’s Junior Champion, and following national service, Israeli’s National Champion.

Born in Tel Aviv, Dan, like many other athletes today, had a singular dream—to participate in the Olympics.

Dan spoke to the crowd about his own experiences at the Olympics, and recounted the horrific events that occurred.

Weightlifters, Moshe Weinstein, and Joseph Romano, both whom Alon called, “Tremendous human beings, and very dedicated athletes,” tried to fight off the terrorists, and as a result lost their lives.…

For the Israeli delegation, the Olympics wasn’t just a competition, it was a chance to show the world that the nation of Israel was thriving. Alon expressed that being the first Israeli team to compete since World War II was a once in a lifetime opportunity “to show the world, that we are here, and still alive!”…

Athletics competitions are decided by mere milliseconds of a difference. A few milliseconds was the difference that some of the Israeli Olympians had, to try and save their teammates.

Though the games continued after the terrible massacre, according to Alon, “some of the players from various countries decided that in light of what had happened, they would pack their bags and return home—for this I applaud them.”

For Alon, and other Israeli Olympians, one of the most important aspects of the Olympics is that they know the people of Israel will always be by their side. Some of the pain and suffering he felt returning to Israel after the massacre was alleviated when he stepped off the plane.

“When we land[ed] at the airport, and I [saw] these beautiful Israeli people, waiting for us—thousands of them, it was something I will never forget.”

(Dan Alon was CIJR’s special guest at the Institute’s 2006 Annual Gala celebration)

THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC
COMMITTEE STAYS TRUE TO FORM
Abraham Cooper

National Post  Jul 27, 2012

I remember that sunny summer afternoon in 1984, standing on Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles, transfixed as the Olympic Flame passed by, on the final leg of its international journey. It was making its way from the Santa Monica Pier (carried there by, you guessed it, former USC great O.J. Simpson) en route to the 1960 Decathlon Gold Medalist, Rafer Johnson, who would ascend the stairs of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and rekindle the flame on the site of the 1932 Games.

It was an exciting moment for everyone in our neighborhood, young and old. Truth be told, that Torch symbolizes everything that is great about the Olympics. But even before the opening ceremonies, controversies enveloped the 1984 Games.

For one thing, there was the tit-for-tat Soviet-led 14-nation boycott in response to the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Games over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. … And there was the refusal of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to honor 11 Israeli athletes brutally murdered during the 1972 Munich Games by Palestinian terrorists. It was just one of the many opportunities for the IOC to address the pain of the families of the slain athletes and to correct its disgusting behavior in Munich, when it initially refused to delay the games even for an hour when the atrocity came to its ignoble end on a nearby military airfield.…

Given what happened in 1984, it came as no surprise that this year, the IOC is shamelessly refusing Barack Obama’s request and those of decent people everywhere to invest in a moment of silence at the Games in London for those 11 souls. In doing so, today’s IOC leadership displays a remarkable continuity with immoral decisions of the past. At the 1936 Munich Games, for instance, the IOC delivered on a golden platter what Adolph Hitler desired: international legitimacy despite his regime’s barbaric anti-Jewish racist laws.

What purpose would a moment of silence at the 2012 London Games serve? It would send a message that, at the Olympics at least, it is not geopolitical business as usual; that the memory of murdered Israeli athletes would be as valued as other Olympians who died; and that the Olympics would not cave to a two-tiered system, driven by Arab and Muslim nations.

So this year, since the spineless IOC President won’t, we will join NBC’s Bob Costas’ for an on-air minute of silence, and suggest we all add a second Minute of Silence—for the death of the Olympics Flames’ promise of a level moral playing field for all.

A NEWSMAN’S OLYMPIC STAND
David Feith

Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2012

What are the Olympics for? Awesome displays of physical ability, mainly, but with a heavy helping of politics—from mere kumbaya globalism to notorious whitewashes of Nazism and Communism. On rare occasion, though, the Games inspire displays of sound political judgment. This year’s first medalist in that category is television anchor Bob Costas.

The NBC veteran has revealed that his broadcast of the July 27 opening ceremony will include a minute of silence for the 11 Israeli Olympians murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Games 40 years ago—a minute of silence that the International Olympic Committee has refused to arrange on its own. Mr. Costas explained to Hollywood Reporter magazine: “I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive.” So he’ll tell viewers “here’s a minute of silence right now.” Judging from the 2008 ceremony, 35 million Americans could be watching.

Mr. Costas is hardly alone in finding the Munich killings worthy of commemoration. Others who have spoken up include President Barack Obama (“absolutely,” the White House said Thursday), all U.S. senators, every Australian and Canadian parliamentarian, Germany’s foreign minister and some 100,000 online petitioners. But none has shaken the IOC from its decades-long refusal—and none has Mr. Costas’s opportunity to impose an unofficial but almost uniquely high-profile minute of silence.

The IOC, for its part, contends that it is simply upholding Olympic tradition. “The [slain athletes’] families were repeatedly told by long-time IOC President Juan Samaranch that the Olympic movement avoided political issues,” historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote in Tablet magazine this week. “He seemed to have forgotten that at the 1996 opening ceremony he spoke about the Bosnian war. Politics were also present at the 2002 games, which opened with a minute of silence for the victims of 9/11.”…

To be sure, the IOC is upholding tradition in treating the Munich massacre as a mild nuisance best forgotten. This tradition dates back to the day of the attack, when officials agreed to suspend competition only after an international outcry, nearly 12 hours after the Israelis were first killed or taken hostage. “The Games must go on,” IOC President Avery Brundage said the next day, and countries’ flags weren’t to be flown at half-mast because 10 Arab nations had objected. Ever since, the case against a minute of silence has rested largely on fears of an Arab boycott.…

The Munich attack was an unprecedented media event—likely more so than its perpetrators could have even dreamed, as it unfolded over almost 24 hours of live television. It ended with now-famous words from Jim McKay of ABC news: “Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They’ve now said that there were 11 hostages—two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.”

Before his death in 2008, McKay spoke frequently about Munich, sometimes alongside relatives of the slain athletes. (“That day was the end of innocence in sports,” he wrote in 2002.) Now Bob Costas takes up McKay’s admirable tradition—before tens of millions of TV viewers.

HOW DARE THE WORLD SHUN ISRAEL ON TERRORISM
Jose Maria Aznar

Times of London, July 24, 2012

When we are about to mark the 40th anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the Olympic Village in Munich, in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists, it is a real paradox to see Israel excluded from the first meeting of the Global Counter-terrorism Forum.

This initiative, led by the United States and attended by 29 countries and the European Union, took place last month in an effort to improve the co-ordination of counter-terrorism policies at global level. Why wasn’t Israel invited? The meeting was held in Istanbul and no one wanted to “provoke” the host, the Islamist Government of the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Worse still, in July, the forum organised its first victims-of-terrorism meeting. Not only was Israel excluded, but Israeli victims had no place in its official speeches. When we see deadly terrorist attacks such as the recent one in Bulgaria, targeting tourists simply because they were Israeli, the marginalisation of Israel is totally unacceptable.

As a terrorism victim myself, who was fortunate to survive a car-bomb attack, I cannot understand or justify the marginalisation of other terrorist victims just for political reasons. If we extrapolate Israel’s experience of slaughter to Britain, it would mean that in the past 12 years about 11,000 British citizens would have died and 60,000 would have been injured in terrorist attacks. In the case of the United States, the figures would be 65,000 dead and 300,000 injured. Israel’s ordeal is far from insignificant.

It is even more poignant if one considers Israel’s willingness to face up to terrorism and the practical experience that it has acquired to defeat it. Israel has much to contribute in this area and everyone else has a lot to learn if we really want to defeat the terrorists.

Fiamma Nirenstein, the vice-president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies (and a member of the Friends of Israel Initiative) has made a proposal that is as fair as it is attractive—to hold a moment of silence at the London Olympics in memory of the 1972 massacre. Remembering is important, first, because of the victims, but also because many Europeans adopted the wrong attitude towards Palestinian terrorism after the Munich attack. The culprits who were arrested were later quietly released for fear of further attacks. And because of that initial fear the terrorists knew how to take advantage of the situation and to press for more rewards.

I have experienced terrorism at first hand. Many of my friends and some political colleagues have been killed by terrorists whose only merit was to have a hood, a gun or a bomb. Nonetheless, even in the most difficult times, I have always believed that weakness and appeasement are the wrong choices. Terrorism is not a natural phenomenon; it doesn’t happen spontaneously; its not something ethereal. It can and must be fought using all the tools provided by the law and democracy—and most importantly, it can be defeated if there is the will to defeat it. Israel has provided ample proof that it possesses that will, since its own existence is at stake.

To marginalise or isolate Israel to avoid irritating Turkey is a big mistake.…Isolation not only renders Israel weaker against its enemies, but also makes all Westerners weaker. And the practitioners of terrorism know all too well how to exploit our differences.

Remembering Munich 40 years on should be a useful reminder of our successes and failures. It should help us to enhance our collective abilities to fight terrorism. Israel is key in this fight. Israel is a part of the West. Israel is not the problem; it is part of the solution. We will become the problem if we continue to cold-shoulder Israel, the country most affected by terrorism and, possibly, the one that knows best how to defeat it.

(Jose Maria Aznar was Prime Minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004
and is chairman of the Friends of Israel Initiative.)

SINAI TODAY: OLYMPIC GAMES AND ‘ILLEGAL OCCUPATION’
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Jerusalem Post, July 26, 2012

…As the nations of the world gather for the Olympic Games, flags wave proudly in the wind, representing the more than 200 participating countries. Every flag represents a country marked by borders which determine the athletes’ nationality.…

What makes these nations different? Who drew up these borders in the first place? They were drawn up arbitrarily by force of circumstances; is that enough to form nationhood? Evidently, it is: So much hinges on a border, which is merely an imperfectly—and often capriciously—drawn line.…

Among the many national flags at the Olympic Games, there is one that represents the most ancient of the nations, the only one which exists with its original land, language, religion and values as it had when it was born thousands of years ago: Israel. It is also the only country on earth whose original borders are not artificially nor arbitrarily created by human beings but delineated clearly in the Bible, a book which came into the world more than 3,330 years ago, authored by G-d Himself. As the Torah states (Numbers 34:1-12): “G-d spoke to Moshe saying… This is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance… Your southern border shall be from the edge of the Dead Sea to the east…

“The border shall go around from Atzmon to the stream of Egypt. The western border shall be for you the Mediterranean Sea… This shall be for you the northern border… The border shall descend and extend to the bank of the Kinneret Sea to the east.

“The border shall descend to the Jordan [River], and its outskirts shall be the Dead Sea…”

In 1947, the United Nations allocated a much smaller portion within these borders as the area for the modern State of Israel. Since the Six Day War many countries have declared Israel’s presence in the West Bank an “illegal occupation.”…

How is it possible that the only nation in the world whose borders are not arbitrary, and who has an ancient, unbroken connection to its land is accused of illegal occupation? It is a particularly bitter irony when young nations of the world, barely a hundred years old themselves, accuse the oldest nation of all of colonialism, and deny its right to exist within its ancient borders.…

The audacity of those who contest Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is historically bizarre and unconscionable. Three thousand years ago the great capitals of today did not even exist; there was no London, Paris, Washington or Moscow—but Jerusalem was a Jewish city, and it was the capital of the Jewish state. Since the Roman conquest of Israel about 2,000 years ago, Jews mention the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at every wedding and funeral… in every prayer service and every time we say Grace after Meals. If Jerusalem is not the capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state, then the very concept of a capital city has no meaning.

The Olympic Games officially open on the 27th of July. It is remarkable that on the Jewish calendar this date corresponds to Tisha B’av—the very day which, more than any other, demonstrates the eternal Jewish connection to Jerusalem and Israel. It is the fast day on which we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple some 2,500 years and then again, almost 2,000 years ago.…

It is not only a day of sorrow, but also of repentance and reconnection with the Divine moral mission and destiny of the Jewish People. There is a well-known legend of Napoleon Bonaparte walking into a dimly lit synagogue on Tisha Be’av night. He asked why the congregants were sitting on the floor… mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and their Temple some 1,800 years before. Reportedly, Napoleon then said that a nation which remembers and is connected to its historic mission and destiny in such a way will one day regain its land, Jerusalem and its Temple.

Perhaps this year the kings, presidents and world leaders gathered in London for the Olympic Games will follow in the footsteps of Napoleon and find a synagogue to enter on Tisha B’av. Maybe then they will finally appreciate the eternal Jewish connection to Israel, Jerusalem and the values of the Torah…that [have] sustained the oldest, most resilient and ever-vital nation on earth, which has seen so many others burst onto the stage of history only to disappear forever. Maybe then they too will glimpse the truth of the world’s eternal nation.

(Warren Goldstein is chief rabbi of South Africa.)