More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition urging the International Olympics Committee to observe one minute of silence at the upcoming games in London this summer in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.
“Tell the International Olympic Committee: 40 Years is Enough!” urges the petition, presented by Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andrei Spitzer murdered at the games, together with the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Rockland, New York. The petition appears on social action platform Change.org.
Spitzer is calling for a moment of silence to take place at every Olympic Games to remember the athletes, coaches and referees murdered, and “to promote peace,” she writes.
“These men were sons; fathers; uncles; brothers; friends; teammates; athletes. They came to Munich in 1972 to play as athletes in the Olympics; they came in peace and went home in coffins, killed in the Olympic Village and during hostage negotiations,” Spitzer writes in the petition.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met with Spitzer and Ilana Romano, also a widow of an athlete murdered in Munich, to sign the petition and give the women a copy of a letter he wrote to the International Olympics Committee asking that the 2012 London Olympics open with a moment of silence in honor of 40 years since the terror attack.
“The International Olympics Committee must act clearly and officially against actions of hate and intolerance and appropriately honor the events of the past,” Ayalon wrote.
The deputy foreign minister explained that the Olympics are based on the values of equality and brotherhood, and must do justice by remembering the 11 Israeli athletes.
“In the world we live in today, it is most imperative to remember those athletes who were murdered 40 years ago, as the message of the terrorists is still the same. The Munich Tragedy must never be forgotten,” posted Helen Gottleib, one of the more than 5,000 people who have signed the petition.
Another person writes: “It doesn’t matter to me what nation the murdered team members were from. They were Olympians, and should be remembered at the Olympics.”
According to the information posted along with the petition, the families of the Munich 11 have worked for four decades to obtain recognition of the massacre from the International Olympic Committee.
“We have requested a minute of silence during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics starting with the ’76 Montreal Games,” explained Spitzer. “Repeatedly, these requests have been turned down. The 11 murdered athletes were members of the Olympic family; we feel they should be remembered within the framework of the Olympic Games.”
She added that silence is a fitting tribute since it “contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret.”
Spitzer said that her goal is not political or religious, but rather to highlight the sportsmanship of the international event and to pay tribute to the victims.
The JCC in Rockland has also helped the bereaved families set up an online memorial at www.munich11.org and lobbied the Olympic committee, Spitzer said.
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Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.