‘It is never too late to do the right thing’

Let not your legacy be one of silence and complicity but rather one of action, one of responsibility, one of leadership, one of compassion.

August 9, 2012 21:52
3 minute read.
London Guildhall ceremony in memory of Munich 11

London Munich Silence . (photo credit: Yakir Zur Photography)


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This article was adapted from a speech delivered by the UJIA chairman at Monday’s official commemoration of the Munich terror attack.

The event was held in London’s Guildhall with some 500 guests including Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, opposition leader Ed Miliband, IOC President Jacques Rogge, Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat and key Israeli Olympic officials.

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We – British citizens, Israelis, Jews and all people of conscience – are here this evening to honor the memory of the victims.

To remember their names, to remember their faces.

To share the pain and anguish of their families, and to demand that those in a position and with the authority to do so take the responsibility that only they can: to acknowledge, in the official Olympic program, unambiguously and publicly the murderous terrorist attack that was perpetrated against the 11 Israeli Olympians and to remember.

What happened on the 4th and 5th of September, 1972, was in the words of the late King Hussein of Jordan “a savage crime against civilization.”

Young men and women gather every four years in peace, as it was in ancient Greece when conflict was set aside, to celebrate Man’s innate ability to excel in harmonious competition. In 1972 for those awful few hours the ideals and values of the Olympic movement suffered and died with the 11 Israeli Olympians. A shadow fell across the Olympic family then, but now it hangs ever darker over the International Olympic Committee.

President Rogge, on behalf of the British Jewish community, supported by the political leadership of this great country, we say to the IOC that to be silent is to be complicit and that we cannot understand why the IOC resolutely refuses to do what is right.

Mr. Rogge, as president of the IOC, you have chosen to be here tonight. Your presence is itself an important personal statement to your colleagues at the IOC. And you have done much more than your predecessors. But, Mr. Rogge, it is not enough.

I once heard Elie Wiesel say that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference.

We are assembled here this evening because we are not indifferent. We are not indifferent to the terrible events of Munich 40 years ago.

And no matter the passing of time, we lament and deplore the silence, and the apparent indifference of others.

Jewish history has taught us that to remember requires a positive act. That same history has also taught us that to fail to remember is to be complicit. To fail to remember is to be complicit.

Whilst no one can undo the tragedy of Munich, surely it is your obligation now, the duty of the entire Olympic movement which you represent, to end the pain and injustice that the IOC’s official silence has meant for the memory of the victims and their families.

If the notion of the Olympic ideal is to retain its meaning and its value, the IOC as the custodian of that ideal must not remain silent. You must not be complicit.

As has been said this evening, it is never too late to do the right thing. With the eyes of the world on London, that time is now.

Let not your legacy be one of silence and complicity but rather one of action, one of responsibility, one of leadership, one of compassion.

And above all, let not your legacy be one of indifference, but rather one of love.

The writer is chairman of the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) in Britain.

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