Congressmen urge silent moment for Munich victims

Congressman Engel, congresswoman Lowey announce new resolution calling for Olympic commemoration of murdered Israeli athletes of 1972.

2012 London Olympics logo. (photo credit: Reuters)
2012 London Olympics logo.
(photo credit: Reuters)
US Representatives Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, both Democrats from New York, announced Friday the introduction of House Resolution 663, calling on the International Olympic Committee to commemorate the 1972 Munich attack during the 2012 London Olympic Games opening ceremonies.
The Olympic Committee has rejected the Israeli government’s proposal to hold a minute of silence in memory of the 11 Israeli sportsmen murdered by terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
The congressmen stated that forty years on, the International Olympic Committee has a moral responsibility to commemorate the victims of the terror attack.
“We’re not asking for a gold medal – just a minute of silence. That is why we introduced House Resolution 663 expressing the sense of Congress that IOC should provide a solemn recognition to the horror that befell the Games in 1972 through a minute of silence at the 2012 opening ceremonies,” Engel and Lowey said in a statement.
In 1972, Palestinian terrorists from Black September took members of Israel’s delegation hostage and demanded that 234 prisoners jailed in Israel be freed. Eleven Israelis were slain in a bungled rescue operation carried out by German security forces.
“The Munich 11 were part of the Olympic family, and IOC’s rejection thus far of a minute of silence is unacceptable.
We intend to put the US Congress on record that those who died deserve to be remembered in a respectful manner to mark this anniversary,” they added.
On Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon responded to a letter from IOC president Jacques Rogge informing him of the decision by saying that it negated the idea of fraternity behind the Games.
“The terrorist murders of the Israeli athletes were not just an attack on people because of their nationality and religion; it was an attack on the Olympic Games and the international community,” Ayalon said.
“Thus it is necessary for the Olympic Games as a whole to commemorate this event in the open rather than only in a side event.”
Ayalon sent a letter to Rogge a few weeks ago asking the committee to hold a minute of silence for the Israeli victims at the London Olympics this summer.
The minister said he would inform the bereaved families of the committee’s rejection of the proposal. He said Israel would open a campaign aimed at reversing the decision.
“This rejection told us as Israelis that this tragedy is yours alone and not a tragedy within the family of nations,” he said.
“This is a very disappointing approach and we hope that this decision will be overturned so the international community as one can remember, reflect and learn the appropriate lesson from this dark stain on Olympic history.”
Meanwhile in London, momentum was gathering, as the flame for the London Olympics arrived on British soil on Friday on board a special golden-liveried British Airways flight from Athens.
The flame will start a 70- day torch relay around Britain on Saturday, with triple Olympic gold medalist sailor Ben Ainslie carrying it on the first leg from Land’s End on the southwest tip of England.
The Olympic Games start on July 27.
Gil Shefler and Reuters contributed to this report.