By Uriel Heilman
The campaign for a moment of silence to honor the Munich 11 is one of those issues that politicians and Jewish organizations love to pile onto because it’s so unobjectionable. Who could be against commemorating 11 innocent Israeli athletes murdered during the 1972 Munich Olympics?
It’s something that unites President Obama and Mitt Romney, the Chabad Jewish Center of Wyoming and the Union for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Zionist Organization of America, the European Jewish Parliament (whatever that is) and German lawmakers.
But here’s a contrarian voice from none other than Amir Mizroch, the English editor of Israel’s Yisrael Hayom newspaper, the right-wing tabloid backed by Sheldon Adelson.
A moment of silence at the Olympic ceremony could, I fear, embarrass Israel. It’s no secret that the International Olympic Committee does not want to ‘politicize’ this issue even more. Holding a minute of silence for Israelis murdered in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists – the way we see it, or Israeli men of military age killed by Palestinian freedom fighters – as much of the Muslim and Arab world sees it – will politicize the opening ceremony to the extreme. We will be accused of exploiting the ceremony for propaganda purposes. We call it commemoration, the world will call it propaganda.
Let’s face it folks, Israel is not loved abroad. You knew that, right? It’s not loved amongst British people, it’s not loved amongst European people, it’s not loved amongst most African and Asian nations, and it is certainly loathed amongst Muslim and Arab nations. If a moment of silence were to be held at the Olympic stadium tonight, where not just Americans, Canadians, Australians and Micronesians are in attendance, chances are quite good that our minute of silence will not be fully respected. Chances are quite good even that it could be disrespected, even booed. And if that happened, if the minute of silence for Israel’s 11 murdered athletes were booed, what have we achieved? We, as Israelis, will just feel disheartened, disgusted, upset. How would we feel if we saw, actually saw, just how few friends we actually have in the world?…
We should spare ourselves that. The IOC is doing us a favor by rejecting it.