London Munich silence planned for Olympic opening ceremony day

By Jennifer Lipman, July 24, 2012

A silence is to be held on the day of the Olympic opening ceremony in central London to mark 40 years since the Munich massacre.

In response to the repeated refusal of the International Olympic Committee to hold a minute's silence during the opening ceremony or at all during the course of the Games, individuals have decided to take matters into their own hands.

The plan is for those wishing to remember the 11 slain Israeli athletes at the start of the tenth games since they were murdered to congregate in Trafalgar Square.

The public commemoration will take place on Friday morning at 11am, and be followed by Kaddish and then the Israeli national anthem.

The organisers have asked people to come bearing Israeli and British flags "or, indeed, any other country because such a mix indicates international support".

On Friday, those angered by the IOC's stance on the silence – a memorial that has been backed by more than 100,000 people worldwide – will also hold a "virtual commemoration" organised by the Zionist Federation. The ZF's "Minute for Munich" drive asks people to "make their own personal commemoration of the tragedy" by holding their own silences at 11am on the morning of the Opening Ceremony. Communal organisations and shuls will also be holding their own commemorations on Friday and on Shabbat.

"Everybody is welcome, regardless of colour or creed," said the organisers of the Trafalgar Square silence, who stressed that it was not a political rally for Israel. "It is a short ceremony to commemorate publicly the murder of 11 athletes by terrorists 40 years ago, to remind people that this atrocity occurred and to honour the memory of those who were killed - something the IOC has refused to do."

On Monday, IOC president Jacques Rogge staged an impromptu silence in the Athletes' Village, despite standing firm on including one during the official Olympic weeks.

"The IOC seem to have no problem with "spontaneous" commemorations," noted Abraham Foxman, national director of the hate-monitor the Anti-Defamation League, who pointed out that a silence was held in memory of the 9/11 victims at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

He added: "Yet Olympic officials irrationally and stubbornly refuse to remember the 11 Israeli athletes at an official Olympic ceremony, claiming it would not be appropriate. This four-decade refusal to mark one of the most infamous terrorist attacks in history, and an attack on the Olympics games themselves, represents a continuing stubborn insensitivity and callousness to the memory of the murdered Israeli athletes."

Last updated: 11:00am, July 24 2012