In one of perhaps the most successful attempts in recent years by Israel to highlight discrimination against Israel by an international body, the Olympic opening ceremony will be noteworthy for what it does not include. Veteran US Sportscaster Bob Costas already promised that he will note during his coverage the omission of a moment of silence for the 11 Israeli athletes slain during the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Last week, Hilary wrote that Obama had officially announced the White House''s support for a moment of silence to commemorate the athletes. In the tit-for-tat press release warfare of the presidential campaign season, Republican rival Mitt Romney''s failure to voice his support for such a proposal was picked up as a potential hole-in-one by Jewish Democrats.
See, this is an awkward issue for Romney. He was behind the local organization that brought the Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002 - the thirtieth anniversary of the Munich Massacre. And at that Olympics, too, the IOC denied requests by Israel for a moment of silence. There was a moment of silence at that Olympics, though, for the victims of 9/11.
It was the IOC, of course, not Romney, that allegedly nixed the requests for a Salt Lake City commemoration. But with Romney''s Olympic organization background highlighted as a bright spot in his CV, Romney''s silence on the moment of silence was politically untenable.
So on Monday, Romney broke his own moments of silence. Last week, Romney representative Andrea Saul said that the former Massachusetts governor had taken no public position on the issue, and the Romney campaign did not respond to our inquiries on the subject. But by Monday, Saul changed her tone, telling Reuters news service in an e-mail that "Governor Romney supports the moment of silence in remembrance of the Israeli athletes killed in the Munich Olympic Games."
Romney has now come into line with several non-partisan Jewish groups, as well as a resolution passed by the US Senate and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A number of European politicians and parliaments have done the same.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister (and former Washington resident as ambassador) Danny Ayalon has had his ups and downs since taking office in 2009. But as the person spearheading the moment of silence campaign this year, he can chalk up the accomplishment of getting Obama and Romney to agree - even if the IOC doesn''t.