The IOC Didn’t Do Israel a Favor
Jonathan S. Tobin
On Wednesday, two of the widows of the Israeli Olympians who were murdered in Munich in 1972 made a last-ditch effort to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to change its mind and allow a moment of silence in their memory at the London Games opening ceremony to be held tonight. But despite the tearful pleas of Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, IOC head Jacques Rogge refused to be moved.
As Britain’s JC reports, Spitzer said this of the meeting with Rogge:
“I asked him ‘is it because they were Israelis?’ and he didn’t answer.
“We were just about rolling over the table for him. We are outraged. We are so angry. We are sad. We could not believe it but he is not going to do it.
“I was looking him in the eye but he said we had two different opinions. We said ‘you didn’t hear the voice of the world.’ He said: ‘Yes I did.’”
Were he an honest man, Rogge would have admitted that the Israeli identity of the victims was the reason for his refusal. Indeed, when he says he heard the “voice of the world,” it may be he is referring to the fact that he believes — and not without reason — the world doesn’t care about spilled Jewish blood. Someone who agrees with that conclusion is Amir Mizroch, the English editor of Israel Hayom who writes (h/t Uriel Heilman at JTA) that perhaps “the IOC is doing us a favor by rejecting” requests for a moment to remember the Munich victims, because he is sure that instead of respectful silence what would follow such a request would be “a minute of deafening cacophony of hate for Israel.”
Mizroch may have a point. It is by no means unlikely that the crowd in London, not to mention even the athletes from Europe, the Third World and Muslim countries, would respond to a request for silence with jeers for the victims of Munich. Perhaps some would even take up chants in support for the terrorists who committed that atrocity.
Mizroch believes the moment of silence would be a replica of what happens at the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. He thinks a repeat of this treatment on the far more visible stage of the Olympics would discourage the people of Israel, because they would see for themselves, “just how few friends we actually have in the world.”
But Spitzer and the others who have spearheaded the drive to pressure the world to commemorate the Munich massacre on the 40th anniversary of the crime were not wrong. It may well be that Jew-hatred would bubble over on one of the world’s biggest stages had Rogge done the decent thing and asked for silence. But the proper response to this hatred on the part of self-respecting Jews as well as non-Jews is not to slink away and meekly accept this treatment.
The reason why the IOC and many of its member nations resisted the call to commemorate the Munich victims is because they know that doing so brings into disrepute the effort to stigmatize and drive Israel out of the family of nations. Were there to be a moment of silence that was disrupted by boos, Israelis certainly would feel, as Mizroch put it, disgusted by their rejection. But the losers would be the Israel-haters. Like the UN’s “Zionism is Racism” resolution and the long list of other anti-Semitic acts perpetrated throughout the last century, the ultimate result would be to discredit the cause of those who think slaughtering Jewish athletes is a form of heroism.
What the Israel-haters want is to make the Jews go away quietly and accept their ostracism. Doing so allows Israelis to avoid unpleasant confrontations, but it is no solution. As with the memory of every other act of hatred against the Jewish people, the proper response is to fight back and never let the perpetrators or their cheerleaders think they will ever live down the infamy they have earned.