Olympic Spirit Calls for Memorial

Remember Munich Victims as Athletes, Not Just Israelis

We Are All Munich: The world was united in mourning the victims of the 1972 Olympic massacre. They should be remembered not so much as Israeli victims, but as Olympic athletes.
getty images
We Are All Munich: The world was united in mourning the victims of the 1972 Olympic massacre. They should be remembered not so much as Israeli victims, but as Olympic athletes.

By Jessica Apple

Published June 20, 2012, issue of June 22, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Recently, I sat with my sons in our Tel Aviv apartment and watched a documentary about the massacre at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Five days before the end of the games, eight Palestinian terrorists from the group Black September broke into the Olympic Village, killing two Israelis and taking nine others hostage. The Palestinians demanded the release of more than 200 prisoners from Israel. In an ensuing battle, all nine Israeli hostages were killed.

My oldest son, Tom, who is 11, was completely engrossed in the documentary. I noticed his face twitching the way it sometimes does when he’s nervous. Tom is a sportsman. He’s been sailing competitively for two years. It’s too soon to say if he is Olympic material (I suspect he’s more suited for the Math Olympics), but that’s what he’s working toward. He spends every weekend at sea and every school holiday competing. He understands the devotion it takes to get to the Olympics. He knows the passion of yearning for gold.

“The terrorists just killed all of them,” Tom told me when the documentary ended. Then he shared more details he had learned, as if repeating the facts would somehow make the story more believable. “How could something like that happen?” he asked.

2012 marks 40 years since the massacre. Since 1976, Ankie Spitzer, widow of murdered fencing coach Andre Spitzer, has been asking the International Olympic Committee to honor the memories of the murdered with a moment of silence at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. All her requests have been denied.

As the 2012 Olympic Games approached, Spitzer began to circulate a petition, which more than 70,000 have signed, requesting yet again that the IOC observe a moment of silence for the 11 victims during the 2012 London Olympics.

Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, sent an official appeal to the IOC. In May, his request was denied. “The International Olympic Committee has held official memorials for the athletes a number of times,” IOC President Jacques Rogge wrote. “The memory of the victims of the horrible slaughter in Munich in 1972 will never fade in the Olympic family.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.