Sport and Culture Minister Limor Livnat on Monday lashed out at Alex Gilady, the
only Israeli who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, for siding
with the IOC’s decision not to hold a minute’s silence to mark the 40th
anniversary of the murder by Palestinian terrorists of eleven members of the
Israel Olympic team at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Livnat said that in a
private conversation Gilady had told her that the time is not yet opportune to
call for a minute’s silence.
An angry Livnat said that forty years was
more than enough time, and wondered aloud if the decision would have been
different had the athletes not been Israelis, not been Jews.
a reception hosted by President Shimon Peres at his official residence for
Israel’s Olympic and Paralympic delegations, and attended by the families of the
murdered athletes plus medalists from previous Olympics and British Ambassador
Matthew Gould, Livnat noted that several countries have taken up Israel’s cause,
but Gilady and the IOC refuse, she said.
Gilady’s excuse had been that he
didn’t want to give Israel’s enemies any opportunity to boycott the
Livnat did not buy this.
“Alex Gilady, you still have a
chance to right a wrong,” she declared.
Earlier Monday, the Israeli
Olympic and Paralympic teams attended the traditional memorial service at the
Munich massacre memorial in Tel Aviv.
Both Efraim Zinger, the Secretary
General and Zvi Varshaviak, the Chairman of the Israel Olympic Committee, noted
that this was a milestone year not only because it was the 40th anniversary of
the Munich massacre, but also because it was the 60th anniversary of Israel’s
initial participation in the Olympics and the 20th anniversary of Israel’s first
Since Barcelona they emphasized as did Livnat, Israel has
come home with at least one medal from all the Olympic Games.
first Olympic medal – a silver, was won by judoka Yael Arad in Barcelona in 1992
and Oren Smadja won a bronze in the men’s judo competitions a day later. In
1996, windsurfer Gal Fridman won a bronze medal in Atlanta before also taking a
gold medal in Athens in 2004.
Michael Kolganov in 2000 won a bronze medal
in the 1500-meter kayaking contest in Sydney, and judo champion Arik Ze’evi came
home from Athens with a bronze medal in 2004. Windsurfer Shahar Zubari won a
bronze in Beijing.
Quoting from Israeli satirist Ephraim Kishon, Livnat
laughed as she repeated his contention that Israel has no desire to win the
Olympics because it goes against the grain of Jewish modesty.
the athletes to forget about Jewish modesty and to do their best to run faster
and aim higher.
Peres, who was fairly confident that Israel would win
more medals this time than in the past, also looked forward to the day when
Israel would host the Olympic Games.
“You have to dream of big things and
then to accomplish them,” he said.