Shalom Life | September 02, 2014

Jewish Federations Reprimand IOC for Omission of Munich 11 Honor

Decision not to honour Munich 11 is “Indefensible and Unforgivable,” JFNA

By: Jessica Pallay

Published: August 1st, 2012 in News » World

Jewish Federations Reprimand IOC for Omission of Munich 11 Honor
The Jewish Federations of North America is dismayed by the International Olympics Committee (IOC)’s refusal to honor the 11 slain Israeli Olympians from the 1972 Munich games with a minute of silence during the 2012 London Olympics. Despite calls from across the globe, the IOC denied the gesture during last weekend’s opening ceremony.

“The International Olympic Committee’s decision to reject an official minute of silence during the Opening Ceremonies to honor the Munich 11 is indefensible and unforgivable,” said Kathy Manning, chair of the Board of Trustees for JFNA.

“JFNA will continue to join the many efforts across the globe to call on the IOC to do the right thing during the Olympics, and we will continue to recognize and remember the Israeli athletes and coaches who lost their lives 40 years ago,” she said.

Jewish Federations have supported international calls to honor the Munich 11, including a global petition, led by the JCC Rockland in New York, an agency of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County. The petition has so far collected more than 111,000 signatures.

Just before the games began, Ankie Spitzer, wife of slain 1972 Israeli Olympic coach Andre Spitzer, and Ilana Romano, widow of Israeli weightlifter Yosef Romano, presented the petition to IOC President Jacques Rogge, alongside leaders from the JCC Rockland. Despite worldwide pressure, Rogge refused the request.

Spitzer and Steve Gold, chair of the Munich 11 Minute of Silence Petition and vice president of the JCC Rockland, participated in a JFNA tele-press conference last week, supporting calls to honor the Munich 11. Four-time Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) also spoke. Listen to their perspectives in the full recording of the call.

JFNA has also joined in legislative efforts and Congressional recognition of the Munich 11. Jewish Federations supported Congressional resolutions for a minute of silence during every Olympics opening ceremony, and Federation leadership stood in solidarity with Congressional members who honored the Munich 11 on the Capitol steps.

Sportscaster Bob Costas acknowledged the IOC’s omission during his NBC telecast of the opening ceremony. "For many, tonight, with the world watching, is the true time and place to remember those who were lost, and how and why they died,” he said.

With the London opening ceremony past, JFNA continues to support initiatives honoring the Munich 11. On August 12, the JCC Rockland will hold a minute of silence, led by Spitzer, during the opening ceremony of this year’s JCC Maccabi Games, an international athletic event for Jewish teens. Remembering the Munich 11 is a component of every Maccabi Games, but this year’s host, the JCC Rockland, chose to dedicate its Games to the cause.

"I am honored that Ankie Spitzer will lead us in a minute of silence to memorialize the 11 Israeli Olympians victimized by terrorism four decades ago," said Gold. The Maccabi Games opening ceremony coincides with the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games.

"I'm proud of the efforts of the international Jewish community, whose pleas for justice were surely heard by the IOC,” he continued. “Despite their shameful omission of the minute of silence during the Olympics’ opening ceremony, we continue to hope the IOC will commemorate the Munich 11 during the London Games, and remain steadfast in our efforts for a moment of silence at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro."

Jewish Federations join with Spitzer, Romano and the other Munich 11 families, who are committed to lobbying for a minute of silence at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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