In the end, the families of the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes and coaches who were murdered at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago and millions of Jews who mourned with them, got a bit of satisfaction out of the London Games. Though the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stubbornly refused to devote even a minute of an hours-long opening ceremony for a moment of silence for the victims of Munich (while giving several minutes to a memorial to the victims of the London subway bombings), American gymnast Alexandra Raisman had an appropriate response. By saying her gold medal-winning performance in the floor exercise was in part a memorial to the Israelis who perished long before she was born, Raisman gave us a genuine moment of Jewish pride that places the IOC’s shameful stand in perspective.
As the Massachusetts native told the New York Post, she did not select the “Hava Nagila” Hebrew dance music deliberately to honor the Munich 11, but she took special satisfaction from winning the gold 40 years after the massacre. Doing so, she said, “meant a lot” to her. She also said she would have supported and respected an Olympic moment of silence for Munich. Her statement and victory ought to comfort Jews who were rightly outraged by the double standard shown by the IOC, but it doesn’t change the fact that the decision to snub the Munich victims at the opening ceremony was a telling indication of the group’s prejudice against Israel and Jews.
Though events have been held to honor the victims in London and elsewhere, the IOC and its leader Jacques Rogge have made sure that none were held at the Games themselves. The reason, as we have written before, isn’t hard to figure out. Many of the participating countries at the Olympics approve of Palestinian terrorism and don’t recognize Israel’s existence. Before the opening ceremony, some of us speculated as to whether the organization would snub others as they’ve done to the Israelis, but after the tribute to the London bombing victims, we got our answer.
The IOC response to appeals for a moment of silence was yet another indication that what the State Department has called a “rising tide of anti-Semitism” has infected the global sports world as well as other sectors of international opinion. But Raisman’s win and her willingness to stand up for the victims is a reminder to the anti-Semites that the spirit of the Jewish people cannot be extinguished by their hate.