The summer is the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games when the members of the Israeli Olympic team were held hostage by the Black September terrorist group. The Palestinians killed five Israeli athletes, six coaches and a West German police officer. Sports reporter Jim McKay covered the events live on ABC:
When I was a kid, my father used to say "Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized." Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They've now said that there were eleven hostages. Two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They're all gone.
Ankie Spitzer, the wife of Andrei Spitzer (z'l), one of the Israeli athletes who came to the Olympics in peace and "went home in [a] coffin," started a petition calling for a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games next Friday, July 27 in London. Over 100,000 people including President Barack Obama have joined Ankie Spitzer in signing this petition. However, the International Olympic Committee has refused to heed these calls.
President Barack Obama strongly supports holding a formal moment of silence at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in tribute to 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian extremists at the 1972 games in Munich, the White House said Thursday.
'We absolutely support the campaign for a moment of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich,' National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Yahoo News by email.
The son of slain Israeli wrestling coach Moni Weinberg, Guri Weinberg, welcomed the news on Twitter. 'I'm literally crying right now. Thank you, President Obama,' he said.
The International Olympic Committee has rejected the proposal, and said that the victims-killed by extremists of the Palestinian 'Black September' group-would be honored at a separate ceremony. In years past, the IOC has said that the Games are no place for what might be seen as a political statement. But supporters of the homage have not given up, and a global campaign has been under way to convince the IOC to reverse its decision. The opening ceremonies begin July 27.
The Senate unanimously approved a resolution on June 25 calling on the IOC to hold such a tribute. A similar measure sailed unopposed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee in early June, but it was not clear on Thursday whether the full House would vote on the measure before the games begin.
'I hope this is the final impetus to get the International Olympic Committee to agree that a minute should be set aside at the Opening Ceremonies next Friday to honor those murdered Olympians,' said Democratic Representative Eliot Engel.
A spokeswoman for Mitt Romney, Andrea Saul, said the Republican standard-bearer had taken no public stance on the issue.
Statements from Senator Gillibrand, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird and Sports Minister Bal Gosal, B'nai B'rith International follow the jump.
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, author of the Senate resolution
Observing a moment of silence at the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, when the world's attention is focused on this symbol of international cooperation and peace, would pay tribute to the slain athletes and coaches and would send a powerful message of unity in the fight against terrorism.
NBC sportscaster Bob Costas told The Hollywood Reporter this week that he will stage his own personal protest of the IOC decision:
I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here's a minute of silence right now.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
The Olympics are a globally anticipated event celebrating human achievement and spirited competition. But one tragic morning in 1972, that celebration was horrifically interrupted as 11 Israeli athletes in Munich for the games were kidnapped and ultimately killed by a group of Palestinian terrorists known as Black September. In the years since, the families of these victims have been looking to have the memories of their loved ones - who came to Munich in the spirit of peace - honored at the Olympic opening ceremony with a simple moment of silence. But they have been continually rebuffed. Now a campaign led by one of those family members has attracted over 90,000 signatures to a petition asking the International Olympic Committee for a moment of silence to remember the murdered Israeli athletes.
Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird and Sports Minister Bal Gosal
The terrorist attack targeted not only Israel, but the spirit and goals of the Olympic movement...it should be marked publicly as part of the official ceremony.
B'nai B'rith International laments the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision not to hold an official minute of silence at the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games to remember the 11 Israeli athletes, coaches and referees murdered at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
According to a report in the European Jewish Press, Ankie Spitzer, widow of one of the slain athletes, said that the president of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games acknowledged that the 46 Arab and Muslim members of the IOC were responsible for rejecting Spitzer's proposed "One Minute of Silence" campaign.
B'nai B'rith also calls on all networks with broadcast rights to the games to hold their own moments of silence.
"All these families want is recognition for the tragic deaths, but for 40 years they have been turned down," said B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. "This is unacceptable and discriminatory; it is the antithesis of the Olympic spirit."
B'nai B'rith has signed Spitzer's online petition-which currently has nearly 97,000 signatures-to encourage the IOC to hold the minute of silence and praises countries such as the United States, England, Australia, Belgium and Germany for supporting these efforts.
"Ignoring continued efforts to hold a memorial minute of silence of the 40th anniversary of this massacre sends a signal that Israel is not worthy of international recognition for its losses," said B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. "This is intolerable, and we hope the IOC will reverse its misguided and offensive decision."
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