Irwin Cotler Urges IOC, Rogge Provide Minute of Silence at London Closing Ceremony, Honor Israel Petition

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel --- August 10, 2012 ... One of Israel's closet friends, Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, a former Justice Minister of Canada has come out swinging at IOC President Jacques Rogge.

Rogge has ignored the repeated pleas of the relatives of the murdered Olympians in Munich 1972 Games. In doing so, he has also refused to listen to the voices of over 100,000 people who signed an online petition created by the JCC in Rockland, New York, President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, the Canadian House of Commons, the US Congress and several other global leaders.

In a sharply worded letter written to Rogge, Cotler called the decision not to honor the fallen athletes with a minute of silence at the London Olympics opening ceremony "as offensive as it is incomprehensible." Without directly stating that Rogge's actions were blatantly anti-Semitic, he did say: "not only were the athletes killed because they were Israeli and Jewish, but that the moment of silence is being denied them also because they are Israeli and Jewish."

To make matters even worse, as Rogge refused a minute of silence for the dead Israelis at the opening ceremony stating: "We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident” he then allowed two separate minutes of silence for terror victims from other countries.

At a memorial service held away from the Olympic stadium this week, one of the terror victim relatives, Ankie Spitzer, looked at Rogge and stated: "Shame on you IOC, because you have forgotten 11 members of the Olympic family." Spitzer received a standing ovation for her remarks at Monday's service at London's Guildhall.

The Israel News Agency was the first organization to call for a minute of silence at the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics.
Our rationale was and is that Rogge is the victim of political terrorism, has been taken political hostage by over 40 Arab nations that threatened to boycott the Olympics if mention of the dead Jews was made at the opening ceremonies. But with all the athletes heading home after the closing ceremonies in London, there can be no boycott. There would be no excuse not to hold a minute of silence.

The Israel News Agency created a petition at which is presently reaching 1,000 signatures from around the globe.
If Rogge listens to MP Cotler and these social media groups which represent hundreds, thousands of Israelis, Jews, Christians and the Olympic family of nations which are not bowing to political terrorism, then we know that the Olympic spirit of fair play is still alive.

If there is no minute of silence for the dead Olympians during the London Closing Ceremonies, we will then know that it is only pure, racist anti-Semitism which rules the IOC, not the Arabs who murdered men who came to play sport in peace.

The 11 Israelis murdered in Munich were Yossef Romano, Moshe Weinberg, Ze’ev Friedman, David Berger, Kehat Shorr, Yakov Springer, Mark Slavin, Andre Spitzer, Eliezer Halfin, Yossef Gutfreund and Amitzur Shapira.

Cotler informed the Israel News Agency that they would be proud to have his letter to IOC President Rogge on the petition and act as a co-sponsor.

Cotler reminded Rogge, himself a former Olympic yachter for Belgium at the 1972 Munich Games, that there are numerous precedents at the Olympic games of moments of silence, including at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, where a moment of silence was held, and over which Rogge presided, in memory of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a training accident.

In 2002, the IOC also memorialized the victims of 9/11 “though that terrorist atrocity neither occurred during the Olympic Games nor had any connection to them. The duty of remembrance was justification enough,” Cotler wrote.

In his letter, Cotler quotes Deborah Lipstadt, a Holocaust historian and professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University, stating that her assessment of the IOC’s position is correct when she recently asserted that the committee is anti-Israel and perhaps even antisemitic.

“The athletes who were murdered were from Israel and were Jews – that is why they aren’t being remembered,” Lipstadt wrote. “This was the greatest tragedy to ever occur during the Olympic Games. Yet the IOC has made it quite clear that these victims are not worth 60 seconds.

“Imagine for a moment that these athletes had been from the US, Canada, Australia or even Germany. No one would think twice about commemorating them. But these athletes came from a country and a people who somehow deserve to be victims. Their lost lives are apparently not worth a minute.”

“Dr. Rogge, you, as a bearer of memory as a Belgian Olympian yourself in the 1972 Munich Olympics, have poignantly remarked just days ago, ‘the Munich attack cast terrorism’s dark shadow on the Olympic Games. It was a direct assault on the core values of the Olympic movement.’

This Sunday, when the London 2012 Olympic Games conclude, let us pause to remember and recall each of the murdered athletes. Each had a name, an identity, a family – each person was a universe.

“It is not too late for the IOC to remember these murdered Olympians as Olympians at the London Olympic Games this Sunday. It is not too late to be on the right side of history.”

Another issue is how far will the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs bend to create effective PR for Israel? Who leads the PR war - terror victim's families who are divided on several issues, or the MFA which needs to speak with one message regarding terrorism against Israel?

No one terror victim owns this dark and tragic territory let alone to be in a strategic, professional media position to determine where and when the State of Israel will speak out and defend herself. Can anyone argue, as a few Jews actually are as I write this feature (two Jews, three opinions), with having a minute of silence for dead Israeli Olympians in front of billions watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics?

Are we to miss yet another PR opportunity to state Israel's case while being confronted with countless Palestinian, Iranian and Islamic terror groups who coordinate sophisticated flotilla and protest media PR events against Israel on almost a daily basis?

A new petition sponsored by two groups 1 Minute for 11 Olympians on Facebook and is now gaining social media strength in calling for a minute of silence for the murdered Olympians during the Closing Ceremony in London.

Please join us in our fight against terrorism, against discrimination and for respect and basic human dignity in and outside of the Olympic Games.





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