Shalom Life | April 17, 2014

Irwin Cotler Still Pushing For Moment of Silence

Canadian MP writes IOC to include memorial during closing ceremony

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: August 10th, 2012 in News » World

Irwin Cotler Still Pushing For Moment of Silence

Canadian MP Irwin Cotler called on International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge on Thursday to honour the 11 Israeli victims murdered in the 1972 Munich massacre with a moment of silence during the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games this Sunday.

In a letter to Rogge, Cotler called the IOC’s decision to ignore calls for a moment of silence during the opening ceremony “as offensive as it is incomprehensible,” alleging that the lack of a memorial in honour of the victims on the attack’s 40th anniversary was “for no other reason than that they were Israelis and Jews.”

The former Canadian Justice Minister pointed out that numerous moments of silence have been observed during past opening ceremonies, including just two years ago in Vancouver in memory of Georgian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a training accident.

He also noted a 2002 memorial in Salt Lake City for the victims of 9/11 and one that was held at the opening ceremony of these very same London 2012 summer games for victims of the 2005 London Bombings, although neither of which had any connection to the Olympics.

In June, the Canadian MPs voted unanimously to support the movement to honour the 11 Israelis murdered in Munich in a motion put forward by Cotler himself, making the Canadian Parliament the first to officially call for a moment of silence.

“This steadfast reluctance not only ignores – but mocks – the calls for a moment of silence by Government leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, and most recently by his Excellency the Canadian Governor General David Johnston; the calls by various parliaments including resolutions by the U.S. Congress as well as by Canadian, Australian, German, Italian and U.K Parliamentarians; and the sustained international public campaign and anguished civil society appeals,” Cotler wrote.

“Accordingly, it is not hard to infer – as many have done – that not only were the athletes killed because they were Israeli and Jewish, but that the moment of silence is being denied them also because they are Israeli and Jewish.”

The IOC’s decision, says Cotler, ignores that “the killings were facilitated by the criminal negligence and indifference of Olympic security officials themselves; and finally, and most disturbingly, it ignores and mocks the plaintive pleas – and pain and suffering – of the families and loved ones, for whom the remembrance of these last forty years is an over-riding personal and moral imperative, as expressed to you yet again in London this week.”

Cotler concludes the letter by telling Rogge it is not too late to remember the murdered Israeli Olympians.

“It is not too late to be on the right side of history.”

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