It was a proud moment for world Jewry when the American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman honored the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
After winning a gold medal in floor exercise, Ms. Raisman demonstrated true strength of character when she told reporters, “The fact it was on the 40th anniversary is special,” and, “If there had been a moment’s silence, I would have supported it and respected it.”
Ms. Raisman is referring to the reprehensible decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reject proposals from the Israeli government and US representatives for a moment of silence during the Olympic Opening Ceremony in memory of theses slain Olympic athletes. The Orthodox Union in partnership with the Rabbinical Council of America also joined the loud chorus of voices that urged the IOC to commemorate the tragedy with a moment of silence. The request was declined from a fear that the moment of silence would politicize the London games and antagonize nations already antagonistic to Israel. While it is generally advisable to avoid unnecessary, inflammatory behavior, a moment of silence hardly qualifies as provocation.
It is also imperative to realize that what occurred in Munich in 1972 was not an Israeli tragedy alone. The Olympic games are meant to be a global event, promoting international unity through a spirit of sportsmanship. An attack on any participating nation should be seen as an affront to that ideal by all, regardless of their relationship with Israel outside the arena. The moment of silence would have been an international sign of unity and a united condemnation of terrorism.
While the refusal for a moment of silence is a grave affront to Israel and a shameful insult to the memory of the murdered athletes and their families, the greater tragedy is the short-sightedness of those who see the moment of silence as Israeli in nature. Although Ms. Raisman was not even born at the time of this tragedy, I admire her strength and courage to never forget and recognize what is right.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.