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

(page 2 of 2)

But memories do fade. Had my son not, by chance, seen a documentary about the Munich 11, he would not think of them in this summer’s Olympic Games. And having a small ceremony for the families of the slaughtered, attended by a few members of the IOC, will not help to keep alive the memory of the massacre. Nor will any plaque or memorial statue. Dedicating a moment of silence in front of the estimated 4 billion people who are expected to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games will.

When Ayalon asks for a moment of silence, it seems clear that he is doing so with a motive: He wants the world to acknowledge that Israelis were murdered. If the heads of the IOC were to honor his request, they would see themselves as making a nationalistic gesture, providing a public relations win to Israel at a time when its policies have increased its isolation.

But the so-called “Olympic spirit” is supposed to be above politics. “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” Chapter 5 of the Olympic Charter states.

In the apolitical spirit of the Olympics, then, the IOC should commemorate not the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed, but the 11 Olympic athletes. I do not object to the IOC’s decision to decline Ayalon’s request, I object to its decision to reject the request of Spitzer. The pleas of the widows and children of the dead are emotional, not nationalistic. This also seemed to be the opinion of the United States House of Representatives, whose Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a resolution June 7 that, favoring a moment of silence, stated, “The murdered athletes were not only Israelis; they were Olympians, killed not in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv but at the Olympics itself. Their murder was an attack not only on the Israeli Olympians and on Israel, but on the Olympics.”

In not allowing a moment of silence, it is the IOC that is casting a would-be apolitical situation as a political one. The decision doesn’t just turn its back on the families of the murdered athletes, it turns its back on the Olympic Spirit itself and destroys its validity. If there is such a thing as an Olympic family, as Rogge claims, then this family should stop to remember its own fallen members. Eleven murdered Olympians. No mention of state is necessary. No flags need to be waved. Just allow 60 seconds of silence for 11 powerful Olympians who arrived in Munich to compete for gold and instead were riddled with bullets.

Jessica Apple is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the diabetes lifestyle magazine A Sweet Life. Her work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times Magazine.


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!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • 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.