A perspective by Amir Mizroch, the English editor of Israel’s Yisrael Hayom, on the IOC’s refusal to allow a moment of silence at the opening ceremony in memory of the the 11 Israelis killed at Munich 40 years ago:
A moment of silence at the Olympic ceremony could, I fear, embarrass Israel. It’s no secret that the International Olympic Committee does not want to ‘politicize’ this issue even more. Holding a minute of silence for Israelis murdered in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists – the way we see it, or Israeli men of military age killed by Palestinian freedom fighters – as much of the Muslim and Arab world sees it – will politicize the opening ceremony to the extreme. We will be accused of exploiting the ceremony for propaganda purposes. We call it commemoration, the world will call it propaganda.
By suggesting the memorial is about Israel and Palestine, Mizroch makes the same mistake as the IOC officials. From the perspective of the Olympic movement itself, remembering Munich at the Olympics is not about Israel, it is not about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Iit is about 11 murdered athletes, whose deaths sullied the Olympic ideal as no other act before or since.
Perhaps there are those, Jews included, who muddied the issue by calling a moment of silence a statement against “Palestinian terrorism.” And at least one Palestinian shat all over the issue by saying that remembering the slain athletes would be “racist.”
The IOC could have held a moment of silence without “politicizing” the issue, had they stressed that it would be a moment of silence for “Olympians,” not Israelis. Isn’t that the Olympic ideal? Yes, its’ nonsense, considering all the jingoism, medal-counting and flag-waving that goes on, but we’re told every four years that the athletes’ village is its own world apart — where citizens of the world of sport can live under a pax Olympica. Armed gunmen — it doesn’t matter, not in this context, that they were Palestinian — literally invaded that territory and killed 11 people gathered to compete in a sporting event. I don’t think it is asking too much of the IOC to say that “we take no stand on world conflicts, but bow our heads in sadness when one of those conflicts breaches the very walls of our sanctuary.”
By not bringing themselves to say something like that, the IOC is essentially swallowing the Palestinian argument that every Israeli killed at Munich was a soldier in the war between Israel and Palestine. But even if that were literally true (how many athletes, especially in the old days, were actually soldiers in the Soviet army?), how would that change the equation? Either the Olympics represents an ideal of nations united in athletic competition, or it doesn’t; the IOC can’t have it both ways.
According to the Olympic charter,
The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
Murder is the ultimate denial of human dignity. If the IOC can’t acknowledge how its own charter was breached under its own flag, what are its ideals worth?