More than 20,000 people across London hold a moment of silence on Friday following an appeal of the British Zionist Federation's 'Minute for Munich' in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes killed in the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The Israeli athletes marched at the Olympic Games opening ceremony with black handkerchiefs in their pockets to mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre.
The gesture came after International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge had refused pleas to stage a minute’s silence in memory of the 11 victims of Palestinian terrorists 40 years ago.
A short memorial service at the Israeli Embassy that was organized by the Zionist Federation was streamed live online, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
About 200 people marked the ‘Minute for Munich’ in Trafalgar Square, reciting memorial prayers, lighting memorial candles and waving British and Israeli flags in front of media who attended the event.
“The British Jewish community is showing its solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel,” the British Israel Coalition’s Ari Soffer told the crowd, according to the Chronicle.
“We should not allow this tragedy to go uncommemorated. This is a time to show our respect and remember the dead.”
The families of the victims of the 1972 Munich massacre, in which 11 Israeli Olympics athletes and coaches were murdered by Palestinian Black September terrorists, mounted a global campaign to get the International Olympic Committee to hold an official moment of silence at the Games.
But the IOC rejected the call despite its being endorsed by US President Obama, Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the U.S. Senate, the German Bundestag, the Canadian and Australian parliaments, about 50 members of the British Parliament, the Israeli government, Jewish organizations worldwide and about 100 members of Australia’s Parliament.
NBC sportscaster Bob Costas followed through on his declaration to bring up a politically controversial topic while serving as co-host of NBC’s telecast of the London Olympics opening ceremonies Friday night, albeit in a bit more reserved form than he originally had planned.
After presenting background on the denial and pointing out that the IOC has had other remembrances — including one this week at the athletes’ village led by IOC President Jacques Rogge — Costas succinctly summed things up without making the "moment of silence right now’’ declaration.
"Still for many, tonight — with the world watching — is the true time and place to remember those who were lost — and how and why they died,’’ he said.
A pause in commentary followed, while the Israel delegation's entrance at the opening ceremony continued to be shown, before NBC cut to commercials.
Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL said he appreciated Costas bringing up the issue, though he didn't expect a moment of silence.
"He established a sense of history and decency and sensitivity, I would say, in the tradition of Jim McKay," Foxman said. The late McKay is the former ABC sportscaster who anchored coverage of the 1972 attack.
Israeli Sports Minister Limor Livnat, the country’s most senior politician at the opening ceremony, stood for a symbolic minute's silence as International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge spoke.
At the initiative of the Maccabi World Union, more than 100 synagogues around the world held a religious ceremony on Friday to commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes murdered 40 years ago.
Lebanese judo team refuses to practice alongside Israelis
In a separate development, the Lebanese judo team refused to practice alongside the Israeli team on Friday afternoon, press reports said.
A barrier had to be put up between the teams, effectively splitting the gym in half. Olympic organizers ceded to the Lebanese coach’s demands so the Lebanese team would not have to see the Israelis, who had originally been slotted to use the same gym and mats.
This incident comes days after Iran’s judoka Javad Mahjoob was kept home instead of joining his countrymen in the Olympics, citing stomach problems. Suspicions immediately arose that he was avoiding competing against Israeli judo athletes.
Iran has made and retracted various statements over the past months, giving alternate explanations of whether its athletes would or would not compete against Israelis.