The head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee has labelled as “racism” the minute’s silence campaign, in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics .
In a letter to International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, Jibril Rajoub said: “Sports are a bridge for love, communication and the spreading of peace between nations and should not be used for divisiveness and the spread of racism,” according to the Times of Israel, citing the media watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch.
Rajoub has been arrested several times by the Israeli authorities, firstly in 1968, on suspicion of aiding fleeing Egyptian officers where, after his release, he joined the Palestinian terrorist group Fatah. His tasks were to assist terrorists and build up cells in the Hebron hills.
Two years later, he was arrested for throwing a grenade at an Israeli army bus near Hebron. Despite being sentenced to life in prison, he was released in 1985 as one of 1,015 Arab prisoners exchanged for three Israeli hostages. He was soon re-arrested for resuming terrorist activities and released seven months later.
In September 1986, Rajoub was arrested for a fourth time, again for terrorist activity, and was imprisoned until March 1987.
In December 1987, he was arrested for his activities during the first intifada and deported to Lebanon a month later. He relocated to Tunisia, with the exiled Palestine Liberation Organisation troops, as an adviser to Fatah deputy leader Khalil al-Wazir. Rajoub became a close lieutenant of Yasir Arafat and was allegedly behind a plot to assassinate Ariel Sharon in 1992.
In 1994, Rajoub returned to the disputed territories and served as head of the Preventive Security Force until 2002, when he was appointed as Arafat’s national security adviser. During his tenure, he was accused of using force to quash political dissent, including the use of torture.
In an interview with French news agency AFP, Rajoub explained that: “Sport in Palestine is a means to achieve national goals” as well as “a tool of struggle to present the Palestinian cause.”
Rajoub, who also serves as president of the Palestinian Football Association, demanded last month that Israel be banned from hosting the European under-21 Championship in 2013 for jailing a Palestinian footballer, Mahmoud Sarsak, who has since been released.
Black September, a terrorist group that belongs to the Fatah movement of which Rajoub is a member, was responsible for the 1972 massacre.
IOC president Jacques Rogge has declined numerous requests to hold the minute of silence at this evening’s opening ceremony. He held a minute of silence at a small ceremony in the Olympic Village on Monday.
A petition to hold a minute of silence, led by Ankie Spitzer, widow of murdered athlete Andre Spitzer, gathered more than 108,00 signatures worldwide and has received endorsement from President Barack Obama.