Tenacious Munich massacre widow fights on

Ankie Spitzer to IOC: It’s not yet July 27 – you can still hold moment of silence in London.

July 12, 2012 02:00
2 minute read.
Ankie Spitzer

Ankie Spitzer 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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The widow of an Israeli fencing coach murdered at the 1972 Olympics said on Tuesday she still hoped a moment of silence would be observed at the opening of the London Olympics in memory of the terrorists’ victims.

Ankie Spitzer, whose husband, Andre Spitzer, was taken hostage and killed in a shootout between German police and Palestinian gunmen in Munich, said she hoped the International Olympic Committee would reverse its decision not to mention him and the other 10 slain Israeli sportsmen at the opening ceremony set to take place in London on July 27.

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“For 40 years we have asked the international committee to honor the memory of our fathers and sons, and they have had all sorts of lame excuses, but Ilana Romano [widow of murdered weightlifter Yossef Romano] and I have worked hard together [for a memorial to be held].”

She added: “It’s not the 27th of July yet!” International pressure has been mounting on the International Olympic Committee to mark the anniversary of the attack carried out by members of Black September. Israel, Germany, Australia and other countries have officially asked the committee to hold a moment of silence, but it has rejected such pleas, saying the venue was inappropriate.

Behind the scenes there is worry a memorial might be construed as being political and lead to protests by Israel’s foes.

Memorials for the athletes who died in Munich were held outside the Games in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008, but both were organized by the Israel Olympic Committee, the State of Israel and the families of the victims, Spitzer said. She said she felt personally aggrieved that those ceremonies were held at locations such as the Israeli Embassy in Athens, and not at the Olympic village. “[The murdered Israeli athletes] weren’t accidental tourists,” she said.

A memorial is is set to take place at Guildhall in London’s financial district on August 6. “It’s a really beautiful hall, but I could not care less,” said Spitzer. “It’s not in the village where they were killed.”

The wife of the slain fencing master said the International Olympic Committee has honored deceased sportsmen at opening ceremonies before. She cited the moment of silence observed at the ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a training accident earlier in the day.

“[His death] clearly casts a shadow over these Games,” a teary-eyed IOC President Jacques Rogge said at the time.

So far the committee, still headed by Rogge, has been adamant in its refusal to hold a moment of silence for the Israeli sportsmen.

For Spitzer, the reasons for the IOC’s position is clear and simple.

“I call it discrimination,” she said. “Because they came from Israel and they are Jews, that’s why they are not being remembered.

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