Canada entered into the international debate over the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) refusal to stage a minute’s silence at this summer’s London Games in memory of Israeli Olympic terror victims.
The Canadian parliament voted unanimously in favour of the memorial on Wednesday to honour the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terror group black September at the Munich games 40 years ago.
The vote followed a letter and follow-up phone call from Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird to IOC head Jacque Rogge last week, protesting against his organisations refusal to commemorate the tragedy.
Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon had previously added his official backing to a petition by two of the victims’ widows to institute an official observance of the 40th anniversary of the attack, but his calls were denied, as Rogge informed him “the IOC has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions”, insisting that despite the tragedy not been officially marked “the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away”.
Ayalon slammed Rogge’s response to international protests to IOC, which also received the backing of cross-party British politicians as well as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as “unacceptable as it rejects the central principles of the global fraternity on which the Olympic ideal is supposed to rest”.
The Canadian vote represents the first universal political backing for the memorial from the international community, an achievement lauded by notoriously pro-Israel Canadian Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who said: “I am delighted that the Canadian parliament is the first to unanimously support this call. I am pleased that all parties have worked together in common cause and hope the IOC will accede to our request.”
As the issue of rising anti-Semitism in Europe remains at the forefront of political dialogue, the Canadian appeal cited that the massacre of athletes in the communal Olympic village in Munich represented an attack not just on Israel, but the Olympic community as a whole and as such “it should be marked publicly”.
Canada has long been regarded as a close ally of Israel, a fact cemented by Israeli President’s Shimon Peres’ state visit to the country last month, where he praised Canada “extraordinary friendship” for the Jewish State and paid tribute to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally.