Episode 33 – Israel and Germany: An unsettled past with Eldad Beck

The words ‘Germany’ and ‘Israel’ probably raise many differing connotations in various people’s minds but one probably stands out among them all: the Holocaust.

Germany-Israel diplomatic ties began in 1952 when Germany finally offered to pay reparations to the survivors of the Holocaust. For obvious reasons, this relationship was not without its fair share of trials and tribulations. Over the years the challenges have persisted, often exacerbated by events such as the massacre of the Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic games in Munich.

As the chief correspondent for Yedioth Ahronoth in Germany, Eldad Beck has become well acquainted with German internal politics, diplomatic affairs and public opinion. He has written two books on the subject of Germany: “Germany, at Odds” and his most recent “The Chancellor”. Beck joins 2NJB to talk about the two countries’ strained relations and his career as a journalist.

Eldad Beck’s Facebook and Twitter

‘Germany, at Odds’ on Amazon

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Israeli Olympians kicked off bus to Rio games by Lebanese delegation

Lebanese Olympians refused to ride on a bus with Israeli athletes to get to the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 summer games.

When the Israeli delegation of athletes and coaches tried to board the bus Friday to Maracana stadium here, the head of the Lebanese delegation blocked the entrance.

Israeli sailing coach Udi Gal first described the incident in a Hebrew Facebook post.

“I kept on insisting that we board the bus and said that if the Lebanese did not want to board as well they are welcome to leave,” Gal wrote Friday.

“The bus driver opened the door, but this time the head of the Lebanese delegation blocked the aisle and entrance. The organizers wanted to avoid an international and physical incident and sent us away to a different bus.”

The head of the Lebanese delegation, Saleem a-Haj Nacoula told Lebanese media that the Israelis were “looking for trouble” by insisting on boarding the same bus when they had their own transportation. Nacoula was praised in Lebanon as a hero.

The head of the Olympic Committee of Israel, Gili Lustig, said: “The organizing committee was the one that determined the travel arrangements, and which bus we would take to the ceremony. The organizing committee saw the rude behavior of the Lebanese delegation head and immediately provided an alternate bus. The behavior of the Lebanese delegation head is in conflict with the Olympic truce.”

On Sunday, Israel’s Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev called on the International Olympic Committee to condemn the Lebanese delegation’s alleged actions. “I am incensed by the incident. It is anti-Semitism pure and simple, and the worst kind of racism,” she told Israel Radio.

Regev, who is not observant, did not attend the ceremony to avoid violating Shabbat.

The Israeli delegation made it to the opening ceremony, and rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivkin carried the national flag to lead the country’s largest-ever delegation of 47 athletes.

A ceremony to honor the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics is to be held at Rio’s City Hall on Aug. 14. It will be co-led by the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic committees of Israel and Brazil. The widows of two Israeli athletes who were killed that year — Israeli weightlifter Yossef Romano and fencing coach Andre Spitzer — will join in the lighting of 11 candles.

“It is disappointing that there will be no Israeli ambassador in Brazil during the Olympic Games,” the Brazilian Israelite Confederation President Fernando Lottenberg said in a statement, citing the diplomatic row after Brasilia rebuffed Israel’s choice of a former settler leader last year to take over the post.

Swimming for Israel in Rio: More than just fun and games

Olympic swimmer and Los Angeles native Andrea “Andi” Murez swims to win, but winning is not the only thing she cares about. 

During qualifying races for the Summer Games in Israel — where she made aliyah in 2014 and became a citizen — her times were good enough for her to represent the country in four events. But she nearly relinquished one of those to a fellow athlete, according to her father, Jim Murez.

“At one point, it was a question of whether or not one of the other girls can be on the swim team … [Andi] was ready to give up her position on the team in that particular event so that the other girl could be able to go, even though Andrea had a much faster time,” he said.

In the end, the other swimmer qualified for a different event, so there was no need to step aside. That means Murez, 24, will begin her Olympic schedule in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 6 with the 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay, followed by the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter freestyle. 

The swimmer said she has managed so far not to be overwhelmed by the arduous preparation required for the world stage on which she will be competing. 

“My motivation comes from the fun of racing, my previous success, and from the inspiring people around me,” Murez told the Journal via email while training in Sao Paulo a week before the Olympics’ opening ceremony. “It’s hard swimming so many hours, so you have to keep it fun. Being able to laugh at the rough practices and struggles with teammates is really important for me.”

Swimming runs in Murez’s family. Her father, the manager of the Venice Farmers Market, swam competitively until the end of his first year in college. And her grandfather Joe Murez, who taught her how to swim, competed for Hakoah Vienna sports club in Vienna before World War II. 

As for Murez’s only sibling, older brother Zachary, 27, he swam throughout high school and college — and pushed his sister to the limit, too.

“She was always competing with Zak,” Jim Murez said. “She was always trying to keep up with him, and being 2 1/2 years younger at that age is a huge difference, so she was always one step behind him.”

Swimming did not always come naturally for Murez. Initially, she was afraid of swimming pools and until the age of 4 she would not let anyone play with her in the water. Eventually, she felt more comfortable to the point where swimming instructors suggested she swim for a junior team, her parents told the Journal. 

“When she was 12, it went from ‘Do we have to go swimming today?’ to ‘Come on, Mom, I don’t want to be late,’ ” her mother, Melanie, said.

Murez attended Venice High School, swam during her four years at Stanford University and made it to the U.S. Olympic trials in 2008 and 2012. In 2009 and 2013, she competed at the Maccabiah Games, Israel’s version of the Olympics and one of the largest sporting events in the world.

“I had an amazing time … and felt connected to Israel enough to decide to join the [national] team in the fall of 2014,” she said. “When I was done competing for Stanford, professional swimming seemed like the best next step because I still loved competing.”

Murez, who studied human biology in college and intends to eventually pursue a career in biology, moved to the Israeli coastal city of Netanya and stayed at the Wingate Institute, a sports training facility, with the rest of the Israeli swimmers. That helped her quickly develop relationships with her teammates and coaches, she said.

“It seemed like the best opportunity for me to swim post-college,” she said. “Before moving, I had only briefly met a few people, but once I moved, everyone was very nice and helped me get settled.”

Olympic swimmer Andrea Murez

As an Olympic hopeful, her training regimen has been intense. On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, she swims for four hours each day and goes to the gym for an hour. Wednesdays consist of Pilates and almost 2 1/2 hours of swimming. On Fridays, she just swims for two hours in the morning. 

When the rest of the swimmers returned to their families for Shabbat, Murez always was invited to one of their houses. (The team supplied her with a private Hebrew tutor to expedite her grasp of the language, which she could not speak previously.) 

In December, Israel hosted the European Short Course Swimming Championships, and Murez represented the country in competition for the first time. She made it to the finals in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle races and became the Israeli national record holder in both. This past May, she competed in the European Aquatics Championships in London, placing fifth in the 100-meter freestyle. 

As much as Murez enjoys swimming, the fact that the sport has exposed her to new and different people has been an added perk.

“One of the best parts of swimming is traveling for training camps and competitions and meeting new people,” she said. “During my time with the Israeli national team, I’ve been to so many countries and seen so many cultures. It’s been very eye-opening and has made me realize how much I love traveling and want to continue to explore the world.”

With the Olympics rapidly approaching, Murez said she is only mildly concerned about the Zika virus and has taken precautions by wearing long clothing and using spray repellants. She looks forward to staying at the Olympic Village, meeting new people and catching up with old teammates who are also participating.

Aside from her own races, Murez said, she also is excited about attending other Olympic events and watching her teammates. 

“I hope to watch a lot of other events, but I know space fills up in the athlete stands,” she said. “I want to watch my Israeli teammates compete and also see beach volleyball and gymnastics.”

In advance of the Games, she said she was feeling calm — for now.

“[I’m] mostly excited,” she said. “It’s really fun being in the village. I think the nerves will come right before the race.”

And overall, Murez said, she is particularly proud to embrace an Israeli swim cap as she prepares to race for gold. 

“It’s such an honor to be representing Israel at the Olympics,” she said. “It’s a small country but a very special place and I feel so much support.” 

Israeli skaters perform better than expected

Israeli Olympic figure skaters won’t be bringing home any medals from Sochi this winter, but Israelis are still shepping naches from their performances.

Israeli skaters Evgeni Krasnopolski and Andrea Davidovich finished Wednesday’s pairs competition in 15th place. They were not expected to medal or even place in the top 10, with the Israel Olympic Committee holding out for them to make it to the free program round, which they did.

Krasnopolski, 25, and Davidovich, 16, only began skating together last year, and train in New Jersey.

American Jewish skater Simon Shnapir and his partner Marissa Castelli finished ninth in the pairs competition, but will take home a bronze medal in the team competition,

On Thursday, Israeli figure skater Alexei Bychenko qualified to advance to the men’s free skate with a 16th-place finish in the men’s short program. Israelis also had something to cheer about when fellow MOT, American  Jason Brown, 19, finished in fifth place with a personal best score of 86.

One Israeli skater who is having trouble at this year’s Olympics is short-track speed skater Vladislav Bykanov, who on Tuesday failed to qualify for the 1,500-meter semifinals by less than a second. On Thursday he failed to qualify for the 1,000-meter semifinals. He will also participate in the 500-meter competition next Tuesday.

Israel sending team of 5 to Sochi Olympics

Israel will be sending five athletes to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, starting next month.

Evgeni Krasnopolski, 25, a Ukraine native who grew up in Israel, will skate in the pairs competition with Andrea Davidovich, 16, of Vermont. The pair, who train in Hackensack, N.J., finished seventh in the senior pairs competition at the European Skating Championships earlier this month in Budapest, Hungary.

Alexei Bychenko, 25, also a Ukraine native who grew up in Israel, will represent Israel in men’s figure skating. Bychenko finished 10th in the men’s singles at the European championships earlier this month in Germany.

Vladislav Bykanov, 24, also born in Ukraine, will represent Israel in the short-track speed skating competition. He finished in the top 10 in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters at the European championships.

Virgile Vandeput, 19, will compete in alpine skiing in the giant slalom and special slalom. Vandeput, a former member of Belgium’s national skiing team, has represented Israel in international competitions for the past four years. His mother is Israeli.

Israeli delegations have competed at the Winter Olympics since 1994. The Sochi Games begin Feb.  7.

Aly Raisman, Amar’e Stoudemire to participate in upcoming Maccabiah Games

The 19th Maccabiah Games begin this week. Of the 8,000 athletes from around the world descending on Israel for what some call the “Jewish Olympics,” 1,100 will hail from America.

At the head of the pack is none other than American Jewish gymnast extraordinnaire, Aly Raisman. Another big-name American to look out for at the games, which run July 18-30, is Amar’e Stoudemire. The New York Knicks star surprised fans the first time he traveled to Israel to explore his Jewish roots.  This time the big surprise is that he isn’t representing the United States, but instead will be coaching the Canadian basketball team.

Want to watch but don’t know how? The lovely folks at Haaretz are here to help with this viewing guide. Thanks guys!

Israel’s State Archive releases Munich Olympics massacre documents

Israel’s State Archive released 45 formerly classified documents related to the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The documents, which were released Wednesday in honor of the 40th anniversary of the massacre, include Foreign Ministry cables, minutes of Israeli Cabinet meetings and meetings of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense committees, as well as official correspondence between Israeli and German officials.

In one document, Mossad chief Zvi Zamir said that Germany “did not make even a minimal effort” to save the Israeli hostages. Another document is Zamir’s personal report of the operation in Hebrew and translated into English.

The Chabad Telethon: Beyond silence

One of the most moving letters you’ll read this year was written by Irwin Cotler, a Canadian member of parliament, to the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, imploring him to hold a minute of silence for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists 40 years ago at the Munich Olympics.

Rogge had already refused the request for the opening ceremonies, so Cotler urged him to do so during the closing ceremonies:

“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: Moshe Weinberg; Yossef Romano; Ze’ev Friedman; David Berger; Yakov Springer; Eliezer Halfin; Yossef Gutfreund; Kehat Shorr; Mark Slavin; Andre Spitzer; Amitzur Shapira.

Dr. Rogge … it is not too late to be on the right side of history.”

Cotler appealed not only to emotion but also to reason. Such a memorial, he reminded Rogge, was not without precedent:

“Two years ago during the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the IOC observed a moment of silence — over which you presided, appropriately enough — in memory of the Georgian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died tragically in a training accident. Ten years ago, in 2002, the IOC 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.

“In particular, after eschewing a memorial for the murdered Israeli athletes and coaches at this year’s opening ceremony, the IOC then — and again, rightly — memorialized the victims of the 2005 London Bombings … though this terrorist atrocity, as well, had no nexus to the Olympic Games.”

Cotler’s appeal was compelling and moving, but it was unsuccessful — a fact that has surely left a stain on this summer’s Olympics.

But beyond that, it has also left many disappointed Jews around the world wondering what to do next.

After an exhausting lobbying effort supported by many world leaders, including President Obama, these disillusioned supporters are wondering whether they should lick their wounds and give up the fight — or begin anew and lobby for a minute of silence at the next Olympic games.

Here in Los Angeles, there is a Jewish group that is taking a whole different approach to honoring the victims. They will neither give up the fight nor plead with the IOC for a minute of silence.

In fact, they don’t want silence. They want to make some holy noise.

And you can bet they will do that at the 32nd annual Chabad Telethon on Sunday night, Sept. 9.

“The Rebbe taught us that the only response to darkness is to increase the light,” was how Chaim Marcus put it when I asked him why they had decided to honor victims of terror during a normally festive evening.

Marcus, the producer of the last few telethons, doesn’t think there’s a contradiction between the two. “The Chabad Telethon itself was born out of the fire that destroyed the world’s first Chabad House, in 1980 in Westwood,” he told me. “It was our way to rebuild and renew — stronger and greater than before.”

So, instead of commemorating the 11 Munich victims with silence, Chabad will celebrate their lives by “adding light to the world by encouraging our viewers to live their legacy through acts of goodness and kindness.”

Chabad Rabbi Chaim Cunin, executive producer of the telethon, adds: “This year, we will sing more, dance more and pour out our hearts more than ever on behalf of the Munich victims and all those in need.”

The tribute will include Larry King setting up a short film clip from “1972 Munich Games: Bud Greenspan Remembers,” followed by the lighting of 11 candles and the chanting of the El Maleh Rachamim mourning prayer by chazzan Yacov Lerner.

They’re hoping to have many celebrities on stage at the Saban Theatre, where the telethon will take place this year, including people like Olympic swimmers Mark Spitz, Lenny Krayzelburg and Jason Lezak; and London’s gold-medal gymnast Aly Reisman.

It’s classic Chabad to take an Olympic failure and turn it into a Jewish lesson. What they’re basically saying is: Yes, it would have been great had the IOC devoted a minute of silence to the Jewish victims, but they didn’t, and we won’t cry over it. We can do it ourselves, in our own way.

It’s true that as Jews, we want the world to love us, to understand us, to feel our pain. With our history of Holocaust trauma, we crave recognition, especially for our innocent victims. So, naturally, we wanted a billion people worldwide last month to remember that 11 athletes were murdered because they were Jews.

But being Jewish doesn’t only mean being victims. It also means being survivors; survivors who have the power to honor our victims by being more Jewish than ever.

And that’s an idea worth making a little noise over.

David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

Israeli law making it tougher for athletes to shine, report claims

Israel’s sports law significantly reduces the chances for its athletes to excel, a new study concluded.

The study by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies was released Tuesday.  Israel failed to win any medals at the recently completed London Olympics—the first time in 24 years that the country’s athletes came home empty handed from the Games.

Yarden Gazit, a Jerusalem Institute fellow and the report’s author, said the sports law contains measures that are extremely costly for aspiring athletes and dissuade many from competing in areas where they might be able to excel on the international level.

“While any observer would encourage prudence when it comes to ensuring that athletes are healthy and fit enough to compete,” Gazit said in a statement, “Israel seems to be practicing an unnecessary level of caution which makes competing impossible for those athletes without the financial means to cover these costs.”

The sports law enacted by the Knesset requires athletes in an official competition, including children, to pass a yearly medical examination at a sports medicine clinic recognized by the Ministry of Health. Athletes aged 17 and older are required to take an exercise cardiac stress test. In addition, the law requires athletes to purchase accident insurance.

The report recommended easing requirements for adults’ medical exams, allowing children younger than 18 to compete in sports with the approval of a family doctor, and allowing sports federations to recognize collective insurance policies such as those of schools and universities, thereby saving parents and athletes unnecessary insurance payments.

Corrine Sauer, the Jerusalem Institute’s president, said that a change in Israeli policies could lead to a significant increase in athletic participation throughout the country.

“This report concludes that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of our national athletic potential,” Sauer said in a statement. “There is no better time than now to reassess our approach to sports and with such a re-evaluation, Israel could certainly add significant athletic achievement on the international level to our growing list of remarkable national accomplishments.”

Part of gold medal ‘belongs to Israel,’ Kiwi sailor Jo Aleh says

Jo Aleh, the New Zealand Jewish Olympian who won gold in the sailing regatta, said part of her medal “belongs to Israel.”

Aleh, the New Zealand-born daughter of dual Israeli and Kiwi citizens Shuki Shukrun and Daniella Aleh, clinched gold last week in the women’s 470 sailing event with her partner Olivia “Polly” Powrie. Her parents were on hand to witness the triumph.

The new Olympic champion—whose father lives in Moshav Yinon near Kiryat Malachi and whose mother served in the Israeli army—said she was amazed and slightly bemused at the media fanfare in Israel.

“It feels great to know that there is even more people behind me and, given my parents’ background, part of my medal belongs to Israel,” she said.

Aleh’s half-sister Shefa is celebrating her bat mitzvah in two weeks. Aleh, the 2007 world champion, was scheduled to go straight to Israel, but as one of five Kiwi gold medalists she is traveling back for parades in Auckland on Wednesday and the earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch on Friday.

“I am still hoping to make it back to Israel in time for my sister’s bat mitzvah,” she said.

In New Zealand, it was after midnight Aug. 10 as many in the small Jewish community, which numbers around 7,000, celebrated a slice of their own history: Aleh is believed to be the first Kiwi Jew to win an Olympic medal.

“I was not aware of this,” Aleh said. “I guess it’s a good bonus.”

Shemi Tzur, Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand, said that “This is both an outstanding personal achievement and a great accomplishment for New Zealand. My colleagues at the embassy in Wellington and I followed the competition enthusiastically and we all share your joy and pride.”

Jewish glory, frustration mark London Games

The London Olympics may have “lit up the world,” as organizing committee head Sebastian Coe put it, but for Jews the 2 1/2 weeks offered healthy doses of frustration and glory.

On the plus side, new medalists such as America’s Aly Raisman gained the spotlight with her grace, which included a floor routine to “Hava Nagila” en route to a U.S. women’s team gold in gymnastics. She followed that with an individual gold for floor exercise and a bronze on the balance beam.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Jo Aleh brought home a gold for Kiwi fans in the women’s 470 regatta and Australian kayaker Jessica Fox won a silver medal in the slalom K1. They joined in their glory with previous medalists such as U.S. swimmer Jason Lezak, who helped his relay team win a silver in the 4×100-meter freestyle in what was likely the last of his four Olympics.

Yet the game’s opening ceremony ended hopes that the International Olympic Committee would officially recognize with a moment of silence the 11 Israeli athletes murdered 40 years ago at the Munich Games by Palestinian terrorists. An international campaign for a moment of silence had the support of President Obama and numerous other world leaders.

And Israel’s athletes—for the first time in 24 years—went home without a single medal, which has prompted conversation about the country’s lack of commitment to Olympics excellence. Israel’s rhythmic gymnastics team made it to the finals, but on Sunday it finished last among the eight teams in the all-around group competition.

Two Israeli citizens, however, are coming home with some Olympic glory. David Blatt, an American-Israeli, coached Russia’s bronze-winning men’s basketball team and Aleh will soon make a family visit to the Jewish state.

Blatt, the coach of Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv team, has helped rebuild the Russian national squad since being brought in as head coach in 2006, Sports Illustrated reported. He took the team to a 2007 European Championship.

He played for Princeton University from 1977 to 1981 and on the gold medal-winning U.S. team in the 1981 Maccabiah Games. Following the Maccabiah Games, Blatt played for several Israeli teams until he was injured in 1993 and took up coaching.

The disappointment in Israel over the lack of a national delegation medal may be behind what Yuli Edelstein, minister of Diaspora affairs, told Raisman last week as she accepted his invitation for the Raisman family to be his guests in Israel.

“Making your first visit to Israel is not only important because it is the homeland of the Jewish people, but also because you can contribute from your experience to the young generation of Israeli athletes,” Edelstein said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Beating her to the Jewish state, however, will be Aleh. After a parade back home to celebrate New Zealand’s success at the London Games, she reportedly is heading to Israel for the bat mitzvah of her half-sister.

The greatest disappointment of the Games for many Jews, however, was the failure of the international campaign to have the Munich 11 remembered. It included a petition launched by the Rockland JCC in suburban New York that garnered nearly 111,000 names, a private meeting with two Munich 11 widows and IOC President Jacques Rogge, and the backing of President Obama and political leaders from Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy and elsewhere.

One widow of the Munich 11 had biting words for Rogge when he attended the London Jewish community’s memorial for the murdered athletes and coaches.

“Shame on you, IOC,” said Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer, who died in the attack. “You have forsaken the 11 members of your Olympic family. You discriminate against them only because they are Israelis and Jews.”

Meanwhile, the Arab-Israeli conflict was felt when the Lebanese judo team refused to even practice in a gymnasium next to the Israelis. The Lebanese even erected a makeshift barrier to split their gym into two halves, according to the Times of Israel.

Also, Iranian judoka Javad Mahjoob withdrew from the Games, citing “critical digestive system infection,” according to the Washington Post. The report speculated that Iran was maintaining a longstanding policy of not allowing its athletes to compete against Israelis.

Russian basketball team, coached by Israeli-American David Blatt, reaches Olympic semis

The Russian Olympic men’s basketball team, coached by Israeli-American David Blatt, has advanced to the semifinals.

The Russians will play Spain in Friday’s semifinals after defeating Lithuania, 83-74, on Wednesday in London. Russia has not won an Olympic medal in basketball since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Blatt has helped rebuild the Russian national team since being brought on as head coach in 2006, Sports Illustrated reported. Under Blatt, the Russian national team won the 2007 European Championship.

He played for Princeton University from 1977 to 1981 and on the gold medal-winning U.S. team in the 1981 Maccabiah Games. Following the Maccabiah Games, Blatt joined an Israeli Super League team. He played for several Israeli teams until he was injured in 1993 and took up coaching.He is currently the coach of the Maccabi Tel Aviv team.

Rogge expected to get heat at Munich 11 Jewish memorial service

Jewish speakers are expected to criticize International Olympics Committee president when he attends a memorial ceremony for Israeli coaches and athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Monday’s service, which is a Jewish community event, has created a “dilemma” for organizers, according to the London Jewish Chronicle.

IOC president Jacques Rogge refused international appeals including from that of President Barack Obama to the Israeli widows of the Munich 11 to legislators around the world to hold a moment of silence during last week’s opening ceremonies of the London Olympics for Israelis slain by Palestinian terrorists during the Munich games.

British Jewish leaders said they did not feel that they could withdraw an invitation to Rogge because they did not formally offer one, according to the Chronicle. Rogge has said he will attend the event and he has met privately with two widows of the murdered Israelis.

One of those women, Ankie Spitzer, told the Chronicle, “I have been asked to speak. What I am going to say to the IOC will not be nice. But that’s too bad. I do not want to see them there … I will tell them they are two-faced hypocrites and should have stayed at home. ”

Her husband, Andre, was the Israeli fencing coach in 1972. Jewish Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman said that Rogge should be present to see the intense emotions surrounding the issue.

“It’s good that he should be there to see how people feel and he should witness it. It will bring the message home to him,” she told the Chronicle.

Israeli judoka Zeevi eliminated from Olympics competition

Israeli judoka Arik Zeevi, who predicted he would win a medal at the London Olympics, lost his opening match and his shot at a medal.

Dmitri Peters of Germany put Zeevi in a headlock in their 100 kg. match on Thursday, forcing the 35-year-old Israeli to tap out after 43 seconds, the Times of Israel reported

“I made a mistake and paid the price,” Zeevi told Israel’s Army Radio, according to the Times of Israel. He reportedly had tears in his eyes as he left the mat.

Zeevi, a bronze medalist at the 2004 Athens Games, had made his prediction after faltering in Beijing in 2008. He had told JTA in advance of the Games that he expected this to be his final Olympics.

Female judoka Alice Schlessinger, another Israeli medal hope, was eliminated on Tuesday.

French Olympic swimmer Fabien Gilot explains Hebrew tattoo as a family tribute

French Olympic swimmer Fabien Gilot said the Hebrew tattoo on his left arm is a tribute to his late grandmother’s husband, a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz.

Gilot, who is not Jewish, said the tattoo is dedicated to his family and honors Max Goldschmidt, who has been a large influence in the Olympic champion’s life, Ynet reported. The tattoo says “I’m nothing without them.”

He revealed the tattoo, which is on the inside of his left arm, after exiting the pool following his team’s gold medal-winning performance this week in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay in London. It created a stir in Israel and around the world.

The swimmer has previously discussed his tattoos in the French media, claiming “they all have a meaning for me.” He noted that “I have the Olympic rings, a sentence in Hebrew that means ‘I am nothing without them’ for my family and three stars—one for each of my brothers.”

Israeli tennis duo upsets defending Olympic champs Federer and partner

The Israeli Olympic tennis duo of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram upset the 2008 gold medalists in men’s doubles, Roger Federer and Stanislaw Wawrinca of Switzerland.

The Israelis beat the Swiss pair, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round on Wednesday and advance to the quarterfinals to play the top-seeded duo, brothers Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States.

Along with Israel, the Erlich-Ram victory brought grins to Jewish communities to Argentina and neighboring Uruguay. Erlich was born in Buenos Aires and made aliyah with his family when he was a year old. Ram is a native of Montevideo, Uruguay. His father is the Israeli Betar Jerusalem soccer player Amiram Ram; his mother is Uruguayan.

Erlich and Ram have been representing Israel for more than a decade. Their greatest victory came in 2008, when they won the Australian Open. They also own Davis Cup wins in 2009 over Russia, in 2007 over Luxembourg and Italy, and in 2006 over Great Britain.

For more Olympics coverage, visit jewishjournal.com/olympics.

L.A. leaders denounce IOC at Munich 11 commemoration

Community leaders gathered at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum today to observe a moment of silence for the 11 Israelis killed during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. The leaders also denounced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its refusal to hold a similar commemoration during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympic Games.

“The International Olympic Committee’s refusal to observe a moment of silence on the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre, despite having done so in other circumstances, is a shameful and offensive act of cowardice and is a permanent stain on the IOC,” said David Siegel, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles. “This is a double tragedy. Our athletes were killed because they were Jews and Israelis. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the IOC is refusing to honor their memory for the same reason.”

Palestinian terrorists targeted, took hostage and murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches with the Israeli delegation during the second week of the 1972 Olympic Games. Prior to each Olympic Games since then, the widows of the slain Israelis have requested a commemoration for the victims to take place during opening ceremonies. The IOC has regularly rejected such requests, including one calling for a minute of silence during this year’s opening ceremony.

Speakers at the L.A. Coliseum, site of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, included L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; Federal Appeals Court Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who served as the secretary of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee; Barry Sanders, chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games; Guri Weinberg, son of slain wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg; and L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, led a prayer and moment of silence at the Coliseum. Cooper then joined Weinberg in lighting a memorial candle.

Cooper spoke of the “singular heroism” of Moshe Weinberg.

“He actually held the terrorists at bay at the entrance at the apartment in their village, allowing a number of Israeli athletes and coaches to escape certain death at the hand of the terrorists,” Cooper said.

Garcetti called attention to a resolution, which he authored and the city passed, which “puts the weight of the City of Los Angeles in support of a moment of silence,” Garcetti spokeswoman Julie Wong said.

While there will be no official commemoration during tonight’s opening ceremonies, the 11 Israelis are being remembered throughout the world. On July 23, a ceremony in honor of the victims was held inside Olympic Village. The British Zionist Federation and the World Zionist Federation held a memorial service at the Israeli Embassy in London on July 27, broadcasting live at minuteformunich.org. And sportscaster Bob Costas has promised an on-air moment of silence during NBC’s broadcast of the opening ceremony.
Following the L.A. press conference, the group of approximately 15 community leaders and their supporters entered the Coliseum and gathered around a large plaque hanging on a stadium wall that honors the murdered Israelis.

Originally installed at L.A. City Hall, following objections by the IOC that it not be installed at the Coliseum during the 1984 Olympics, the plaque was moved after the games.

Also in attendance on Friday was Mimi Weinberg, Moshe Weinberg’s widow, who chose not to speak during the event, but spoke with The Journal afterward.

It’s a “huge problem” that the IOC has not allowed a moment of silence for Israelis during opening ceremonies, Mimi Weinberg said, adding her hope that during “the next Olympics there is going to be one.”

37 Israeli Olympians set for London Games

A group of 37 Olympians is ready to represent Israel in the 2012 London Games, which kicked off with Friday’s Opening Ceremony.

Israel is competing in badminton, artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, athletics, judo, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronized swimming, and tennis.

The only medalist from Israel at the last summer Olympics (2008 in Beijing) was Shahar Zubari, who won bronze in sailing. Each country is permitted to send just one windsurfer to the Olympics, and Zubari edged out local rival Nimrod Mashiah for Israel’s spot.

“For me, reaching the Olympics is only the beginning,” Zubari told the Jerusalem Post.

Other prominent Israeli Olympians include Ariel Ze’evi, who won a bronze medal in judo at the 2004 Athens Games; Alice Schlesinger, a former bronze medalist at the Judo World Championships; Vered Buskila, a silver medalist in sailing at the 2005 European Championships; and Shahar Pe’er, once the 11th-ranked women’s tennis player in the world.

The London Games also mark the 20th anniversary of Israel’s first-ever Olympic medals—Yael Arad’s silver in half middleweight judo and Shay Oren Smadga’s bronze in half lightweight judo, both at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

More than 20,000 Londoners hold Munich moment of silence

More than 20,000 people in various venues in London attended the British Zionist Federation’s “Minute for Munich” program that was promoted via social media.

A short memorial service at the Israeli Embassy that was organized by the Zionist Federation was streamed live online Friday, according to the London Jewish Chronicle.

About 200 people marked the Minute for Munich in Trafalgar Square, reciting memorial prayers and lighting memorial candles. Afterwards, they waved British and Israeli flags in front of media covering 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 terrorists, have mounted a global campaign to get the International Olympic Committee to hold an official moment of silence at the Games. The IOC continues to reject the call, despite its being endorsed by President Obama, GOP 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 and Jewish organizations worldwide.

PA opposes moment of silence for slain Israelis

The Palestinian Authority opposed a moment of silence at the London Olympics for the 40th anniversary of the Palestinian “Black September” terrorist group’s killing of 11 Israeli team members in Munich, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

On July 25, the PA’s daily publication said in a headline that sports “are meant for peace, not for racism.” Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, wrote International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge thanking him for not granting Israel’s request of a moment of silence at the opening ceremony.

“Sports are a bridge to love, interconnection, and spreading of peace among nations; it must not be a cause of division and spreading of racism between them [nations],” Rajoub, wrote in the letter, which appeared in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

The PA publication does not refer to the Munich murders as terrorism, simply calling the events of 1972 “the Munich Operation.”

Iranians unlikely to compete against Israelis in Olympics

Despite a statement from the head of the Iranian Olympic committee asserting that Iranian athletes can compete against Israelis in the London Olympic Games, it is unlikely to occur.

Bahram Afsharzadeh, the head of the Iranian Olympic Mission, said on July 23 that his athletes will compete against Israeli athletes in the Games that start on July 27. But the Iranian team left for London on July 22 without judo champion Javad Mahjoob, the only Iranian athlete who had a possibility to compete against an Israeli, the Washington Post reported.

Iranian officials are quoted as saying that Mahjoob is suffering from a “critical digestive system infection” and will not be able to travel to the Games. Others are skeptical that Mahjoob is ailing and believe it is more likely that it is an excuse to keep him from facing off against Ariel “Arik” Ze’evi in the 100-kilogram weight class.

Iranian athletes withdrew from events against Israelis at the 2004 Athens Games and 2008 Beijing Games.

The official Iranian government Fars news agency said that the Olympic chairman’s words were taken out of context, as he said that Iranian athletes would compete against all athletes and did not name Israel specifically.

Where are the Munich elegies?

This year, Tisha b’Av marks not only the destruction of both Temples, but with the opening ceremony of the London Olympics just a night earlier, the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre.

On this day of mourning and fasting, which begins at sundown on Saturday, how can we remember the tragedy of the 1972 Summer Olympics, when 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered?

The International Olympic Committee has rejected a call for a moment of silence at the opening ceremony in memory of those killed, announcing instead a tribute in Munich and holding a ceremony on Monday at the Olympic Village with remarks by the IOC’s chief, Jacques Rogge.

Even in 1972, I was already having trouble remembering.

Returning to UCLA my sophomore year, just weeks after the tragedy, I remember being pushed by more serious minds into working on an issue of the school’s Jewish student newspaper, Ha’Am, which at its center had a spread titled “Post Olympic Outpour.” At first I resisted, thinking “Why do I need to go through the pain all over again?”

Now, 40 years later, I wonder how many of us are still resisting that pain.

Traditionally on Tisha b’Av, we remember our tragedies by sitting on low seats or the floor, lowering the lights and chanting in a mournful trope the book of Eicha (Lamentations). In many communities, elegies called kinot are chanted as well that commemorate such tragic events as the public burning of the Torah in Paris, the massacre of German Jews during the first Crusades, the Ten Martyrs (which you may recall from the Yom Kippur Martyrology service), the York massacre and, more recently, the Holocaust.

In 2012, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, writing in Jewish Action, the magazine of the Orthodox Union, described the emotional impact of the kinot.

“All the kinot, regardless of who the author may be, express strong feelings of loss, grief and despair,” he wrote. “On Tishah B’Av day, the reader must come away from a reading of the poems with similar feelings.”

Weinreb went on to say that after studying the kinot texts over a course of months, he found himself “spiritually exhausted by the process,” holding on to “those few phrases of hope with which almost all the kinot conclude.”

It is from the intent of the kinot that I think we can find an inspiration for a different form of Munich elegy.

A formal kinah commemorating the Munich 11 has yet to enter the liturgy—if someone has written one please email me—but other forms, though not formal kinot, can help us process our feelings of loss and despair. For example, the personal tragic stories told through films can touch us, moving us toward memory.

In England on Tisha b’Av, the New London Synagogue about 10 miles from the Olympic Village will be showing the Academy Award-winning documentary “One Day in September.” Released in 1999, it’s a film that, while making points about the Palestinian terrorists and botched German police work, mourns the victims by recounting the story of Israeli fencing coach Andre Spitzer and his wife, Ankie.

Another film that like an elegy re-enacts the tragedy, Spielberg’s 2005 “Munich”—it also has a fictionalized account of Israel’s response—will be shown at Temple Concord in Syracuse, N.Y.

The audience for these two films, sitting in a darkened setting, drawn together to listen and watch the story being retold, will be reminded of a different Jewish theme internalized when we hear the kinot chanted—we do not remember and mourn alone.

For most of us, writing a kinah would be a challenge, but adding a line to a petition asking for a moment of silence presented by Ankie Spitzer might be a way to get in the spirit of it. When I read the comments on the petition site, they seemed to form a kind of people’s elegy of prayer, memory and anger:

“I was there, I felt it, I cried for it, I still pray for all them,” Johanna Bronsztein wrote.

“We must never forget and forever respect,” Brenda Rezak wrote.

Jeri Roth adds, “If these people had been any other nationality, we wouldn’t have to ask for a moment of silence.”

Yet for many of us, home on Sunday, watching the Summer Olympics’ events on TV— archery, fencing, weightlifting—in our own darkened rooms, it’s all too easy to forget.

With so much Olympic pageantry and competition, with the promise of gold, silver and bronze to divert me, I will need my own kinah to pull me back to a zone of “Never forget”—a simple list to remember what happened 40 summers ago. Sometime that day, resistance gone, I will try to touch again the loss I felt in 1972.

I will read the names:

Moshe Weinberg, wrestling coach
Yossef Romano, Ze’ev Friedman and David Berger, weightlifters
Yakov Springer, weightlifting judge
Eliezer Halfin and Mark Slavin, wrestlers
Yossef Gutfreund, wrestling referee
Kehat Shorr, shooting coach
Andrei Spitzer, fencing coach
Amitzur Shapira, track coach

Will this simple act also allow me to dream that a tragedy like this will not be repeated? That is my hope.

Edmon J. Rodman is a JTA columnist who writes on Jewish life from Los Angeles. Contact him at edmojace@gmail.com.

Report: Germany was warned a month before ’72 Olympics attack

Germany was warned about a possible terror attack against Israeli athletes one month before the Munich Olympics in 1972, Der Spiegel reported.

The weekly magazine reported Sunday on its website that though solid warnings of an attack plan were received a month before the Games, no action was taken.

The Palestinian terrorists, for example, were able to walk by the apartments of the Israeli athletes without being stopped.

Der Spiegel also reported that German police had prepared possible scenarios for a terror attack at the Games, including one that dealt specifically with a Palestinian attack on the Olympic village, but after the attack the police said there were no written documents of the preparations and German authorities tried to cover up their failures.

The story is based on reports of the post-attack inquiry, minutes from German Cabinet meetings and documents from government bodies obtained by Der Spiegel.

Obama backs moment of silence at Olympics

President Obama has joined the campaign for a moment of silence at the upcoming London Olympics to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Palestinian terrorists murdering Israeli athletes at the Munich games.

“We absolutely support the campaign for a minute of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Yahoo News in an email.

The families of the victims of the 1972 massacre, the State of Israel and Jewish communities have consistently requested a moment of silence in subsequent Olympics. Other than the day after the murders themselves, the Olympics have never granted an official moment of silence. Olympic officials point out that they have sent representatives to host-city Jewish community commemorations.

Obama joins the U.S. Senate, the German Bundestag, the Canadian and Australian parliaments, about 50 members of the British Parliament and about 100 members of Australia’s Parliament in the call.

A spokeswoman for Mitt Romney, Andrea Saul, said the Republican standard-bearer had taken no public stance on the issue, according to Yahoo News.

In personal letter, Australia’s PM urges Olympic moment of silence

Australia’s Prime Minister wrote a personal letter to the president of the International Olympic Committee, urging him to hold a moment of silence in memory of the 11 Israelis killed at the Munich Games in 1972.

In her letter to Jacques Rogge, Julia Gillard said a moment of silence, either at the opening ceremony on July 27, “or at an appropriate time during the Games,” would allow the Olympic movement “to honor, before the world, the memory of those whose lives were lost during that horrific event.”

Her letter, released late last week, drew his attention to the fact that the Australian parliament had unanimously passed a resolution on June 25 in support of a minute’s silence, saying it would be a “fitting remembrance and tribute on this significant memorial anniversary.”

In an editorial Monday, The Australian newspaper argued that in rejecting the moment of silence on the 40th anniversary of the massacre, the IOC had “misjudged the centrality of the Munich massacre, not just to the evolution of the Olympic movement but also to the battle against the evil forces that still pose a constant threat.”

Judokas Alice Schlesinger and Arik Ze’evi power Israel’s medal hopes

One is nearing the end of his career, already has an Olympic medal and is eyeing another. The other is a decade younger, an up-and-comer who has enjoyed some success, but is aiming for her first medal at the Games.

Ariel “Arik” Ze’evi, 35, and Alice Schlesinger, 24, are standouts on the Israeli Olympic judo team and two of their nation’s best medal hopes at the London Games that begin later this month.

Ze’evi won bronze eight years ago in Athens and expects to win a medal this year after faltering in Beijing in 2008.

Holding a camera while the Israeli media photographed him on July 8, Ze’evi sounded like a soon-to-be retiree going on vacation. He talked about “enjoying the experience” and “staying calm.”

Beneath the relaxed air, however, was a determined and optimistic veteran. Ze’evi won the gold medal at the European Judo Championships in April, and as the 38-person Israeli Olympic delegation’s senior member, he has emerged as one of its leaders.

“I’m very calm, but there’s still time” before the Olympics, he said. “We don’t prepare for failure. We don’t set up scenarios where we don’t succeed. It’s better to have positive thoughts.”

Ze’evi says he is “sure” that this will be his last Olympics. If he were to participate in Rio de Janeiro four years from now, at age 39, he would “compete with little kids,” he said.

Another bronze-winning Israel judoka is heading to London: Oren Smadja is one of the five-person judo team’s coaches. Smadja, 42, believes that the medal he won in 1992 paved the way for more recent Israeli successes in judo, like Ze’evi’s bronze in Athens.

“[My] medal led to people practicing,” said Smadja, who acknowledged that he prefers competing to coaching. “I don’t remember a delegation this strong. Some of [this year’s] team didn’t think they could get into the Olympics. With my dedication and desire, I think I was” one of the impetuses for the team’s strong performance.

The Israeli judo team is coming off a strong performance at the European matches, where it earned four medals. Ze’evi and Smadja are hoping that Schlesinger finds her way to the podium at the Olympics.

“She’s been [training] with me since she was 16,” Ze’evi said of Schlesinger. “I’ve seen her go from a promising athlete into one of the best in the world.” Smadja calls her “a serious candidate for a medal.” 

Schlesinger, who is “very satisfied that Arik is 35 and still competing,” voices cautious optimism about her chances in London. She did not win a medal in Beijing but has since won three bronzes — at the 2009 world championships and at the 2009 and 2012 European championships.

But unlike Ze’evi, who sets the bar high for himself, Schlesinger says only that she hopes to “go home in peace” from London.

“Like everyone else, I want a medal,” she says, “but I want to enjoy it.”

Smadja notes that “not everybody says ‘I’m going to win a medal.’ ”

Close relationships and judo have always come together for Schlesinger. Her brother introduced her to the sport as a child, and she attributes her success to her parents, who took her to competitions on weekends.

Now her boyfriend, Pavel Musin, also is her coach. Schlesinger says Musin’s dual roles “help me a lot.”

“To be in such an intense situation and be so close makes the experience different, makes it fun,” she said.

Schlesinger says her romantic relationship relieves stress from practices rather than augmenting it.

“Between every coach and athlete there are moments of tension,” she said. “But we have to solve them because we have to go home [together] at night.”

Israel’s Olympians heading to London thinking medals, remembering slain countrymen

Israelis and their Summer Olympics athletes are eyeing the upcoming London Games with excitement and disappointment.

The athletes are hoping that for the sixth straight summer Games, at least one of them will come home with a medal. Yet they are well aware that the International Olympics Committee has again spurned the campaign to have a moment of silence for their counterparts slain 40 years ago at the Munich Games.

The London Games, which begin July 27, will have 38 Israeli Olympians participating in 18 events. Their top medal hopefuls are in judo, sailing and gymnastics. This year’s delegation features two bronze medalists—windsurfer Shahar Tzuberi, from Beijing in 2008, and judoka Ariel Ze’evi, from Athens in 2004.

“I’m very calm, but there’s still time” before the Olympics, said Ze’evi, who at 35 is the team’s oldest member. “We don’t prepare for failure.”

The Israeli squad, which is scheduled to arrive at the Olympics complex on July 10, also is preparing for some somber moments in London. Team members will be participating in a public memorial ceremony on Aug. 6 for the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The IOC has resisted calls for a minute of silence for the victims despite an online petition with nearly 90,000 signatures and the urging of the U.S. Senate, as well as Australian, Canadian, British and German lawmakers.

Israeli delegation head Efraim Zinger said the IOC is “obligated” to remember the Munich 11 as “athletes and Olympians.”

Other than the day after the murders, the IOC has never held a formal moment of silence for the slain Israelis. IOC officials have participated in Jewish community events surrounding various Olympic Games since the tragedy.

The London Games also mark the 60th year since Israel’s first Olympic appearance, in Helsinki, Finland. It took another 40 years for an Israeli to win a medal, but since 1992 the delegation has taken home at least one medal, including three each in judo and windsurfing, and one in kayaking.

This year, the team hopes to add a fourth sport to the list. Zinger also would like to see an Israeli woman stand on the podium for the first time since the country’s first-ever medal in ‘92, when judoka Yael Arad took the silver. Nearly half of this year’s delegation is female.

“Because of the work we did in the past few years, all of our athletes are better,” Zinger said, noting particularly the gymnastics team as a potential medal winner. He said he was hopeful for at least one more medal in judo or sailing.

Leading the gymnastics efforts will be all-around gymnast Alex Shatilov, who finished eighth in the last Olympics in the floor exercise and won the silver at the 2011 world championships. Also last year, the six-member women’s rhythmic gymnastics team took bronze in the world championships. All of the rhythmic team’s members are under 22.

Another hope for Israel’s first female medalist in 20 years comes in what may be Israel’s best Olympic sport—judo. Alice Schlesinger, 24, did not medal in Beijing but has since won three bronzes—in the 2009 world championships, and in the 2009 and 2012 European championships.

Schlesinger says she hopes to “go home in peace” from London. “Like everyone else I want a medal, but I want to enjoy it,” she said.

Typically, the Israeli team has a strong international flavor. Several of the athletes were born in the Soviet Union, and two were born and raised in the United States—pole vaulter Jillian Schwartz and 400-meter sprinter Donald Sanford. Schwartz connected with Israel after competing here in 2009, while Sanford, who is not Jewish, married an Israeli and lives part of the year on her family’s kibbutz. Both are now Israeli citizens.

For his part, Sanford seems to have settled in well with his new Israeli family.

“Her ima, her abba and her savta live 400 meters from where we live,” said Sanford, using the Hebrew words for his wife’s mother, father and grandmother. “We see them every day.”

Israeli thanks Australia for backing Olympics moment of silence

Israel’s deputy foreign minister thanked Australia for supporting the campaign to urge the International Olympic Committee to hold a minute’s silence at the London Games in honor of the 11 Israelis murdered in Munich in 1972.

Danny Ayalon met earlier this week with Peter Slipper, the speaker of Australia’s Parliament who recently took a leave of absence from his post amid accusations of fraud and sexual harassment. Slipper is in Israel for an official visit.

Also present at the meeting were Ilana Romano and Ankie Spitzer, widows of two of the Munich 11, who have been campaigning for the IOC to acknowledge the Munich massacre.

Australian lawmakers on June 26 unanimously backed a motion calling on the IOC to hold a minute’s silence. The members of parliament backed the bill by standing in unison in silence.

“The Israeli people thank you and the Australian people for your moral and decent decision to hold a minute of silence in memory of the athletes murdered in Munich simply because they were Israelis,” Ayalon said.

In a statement, Romano and Spitzer said: “For 40 years we have walked alone, and it is wonderful that now the government of Israel as well as other governments around the world are supporting us and understand the injustice that has been done to us. We want to especially mention the Australian government, which was one of the first to call on the International Olympic Committee to hold a minute of silence. All of this support gives us the strength to continue, because we are no longer alone in our struggle.”

Slipper also spoke to Israeli President Shimon Peres. “I reiterated to the president and to the deputy foreign minister the strong links our two countries share, and highlighted the recent resolution passed by the entire Australian government and the Australian House of Representatives in support of a minute silence being held at the London Games in honor of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Games,“ he said.

German foreign minister joins call for Olympics tribute to Munich 11

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has joined the effort to urge the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence at the London Olympics for the Munich 11.

Westerwelle joins Canada’s House of Commons, 100 Australian lawmakers and the U.S. Senate in the call to remember the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed at the Munich Games in 1972 by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.

Westerwelle sent a letter Tuesday to the IOC President Jacques Rogge urging him to reconsider his objection to a minute of silence.

“This tragic terrorist attack in my country was directed not only at the Israeli Olympic team. It was also an attack on the Olympic Games and the Olympic idea of promoting peace and friendship among the nations,” Westerwelle wrote, according to the Times of Israel.

A moment of silence for the 11 Israelis, he added, would be “a humanitarian gesture and a fitting way to send the message that violence and terror are incompatible with the Olympic idea.”

While IOC officials have participated in memorial ceremonies hosted by Jewish communities, the body has not commemorated the ‘72 tragedy during the Games other than on the day after the massacre.

Despite the international attention, Rogge has turned down the request. The Summer Olympics begin in London on July 27.

In a May 1 letter this year, Rogge wrote that “the IOC has paid tribute to the athletes on several occasions. Within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away.

In recent days, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and the widows of the murdered athletes have released a video to help the campaign.

“This video is one minute long, the same amount of time we are asking the International Olympic Committee to stop and remember, contemplate and to send a message that the international sporting community will stand against hatred and violence,” Ayalon says in the video.

One-minute video calls for moment of silence at Olympics [VIDEO]

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has created a one-minute video in the campaign to have the Munich 11 remembered at this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

The video, part of the appeal that Israel is calling Just One Minute, asks the International Olympic Committee to have a minute of silence in memory for the Israeli athletes and coaches slain at the 1972 Munich Games by the the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.

“This video is one minute long, the same amount of time we are asking the International Olympic Committee to stop and remember, contemplate and to send a message that the international sporting community will stand against hatred and violence,” Ayalon says in the video.

The IOC rejected an official letter sent from Ayalon asking that the London Games open with the moment of silence honoring the 11 Israelis. In turning down the request, IOC President Jacques Rogge wrote in a letter dated May 15 that “The IOC has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions. Within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away.”

The Israel National Olympic Committee will hold its own memorial ceremony during the Games, as it has at every Olympics. Rogge pledged that IOC representatives would attend the ceremony.

Israel has regularly requested a moment of silence at the Olympics; the IOC has consistently turned down that proposal.

“These terrorists did not just target Israelis; they tried to pierce the very spirit and fraternity upon which the Olympic Games were built,” Ayalon said in the video.