Livnat blasts Gilady over ‘Munich minute’

Israel’s only IOC member sides against silent commemoration for slain athletes.

July 10, 2012 05:31
2 minute read.
President Peres hosts Israeli Olympic delegation

Israeli Olympic delegation 370. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)


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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.

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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.

Speaking at 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.

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Gilady’s excuse had been that he didn’t want to give Israel’s enemies any opportunity to boycott the Games.

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 Olympic medals.

Since Barcelona they emphasized as did Livnat, Israel has come home with at least one medal from all the Olympic Games.

Israel’s 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.

She urged 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.

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