Nazis at the Olympic Village Gate


For 40 years we were told that the relatively new, unorganized and underfunded PLO/Black September group somehow managed to pull off the first terrorist attack on a worldwide stage at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

It made history.

However, in 2012, a whistle blower leaked a small portion of secret German documents that opened Pandora’s Box. In those documents it was revealed that the PLO and their group, Black September were aided by a group of Nazis in West Germany in their plot to attack the Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich. It was also revealed that Germany had a tip-off from a Palestinian informant in Beirut three weeks before the 1972 Munich Olympics. The informant revealed that the Palestinians were planing an “incident” at the games.

The Foreign Ministry in Bonn took the tip-off seriously enough to pass it on to the Secret Service in Munich and urge that “all possible security measures” be taken. Also on September 2, 1972, just 72 hours prior to the kidnappings and murders, the Italian publication GENTE reported that Black September terrorists were plotting a “sensational act” during the Olympic Games. But neither the Munich authorities nor the IOC acted on all this information. In fact, they covered it up for forty years.

Why?

Because the truth is that the PLO/Black September had plenty of assistance from people in the German Secret Service, German police force, Interpol and the IOC. The common threads of those people that assisted Black September were their influence, positions of power and their affiliation with the openly defeated but still secretly thriving Nazi party.

Here are the facts:

The Cover Up

What the German authorities and the IOC have attempted to cover up till today is the vast amount of help the terrorists had to pull off such a sophisticated attack in such a small period of time. In only six weeks, and after a few warnings to the German government and the IOC, the terrorists were able to get the housing location of the Israeli athletes, get fake IDs, weapons, their own housing and roam around Germany without interference from Interpol or the German Secret Service.

The IOC and the Nazi Connection

The “father” of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin (IOC president from 1896 – 1925) and his successor, Count Baillet-Latour (IOC president from 1925 – 1942) were not only Nazi supporters, they were good friends with Hitler himself. They had an ally in the president of the American Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, who was himself a Nazi supporter, to help end America’s protest of the Berlin games and to stop the Jewish athletes from competing at the Nazi games in 1936. After the 1936 Olympics, as a reward, Brundage’s construction company was awarded a building contract to build the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. Brundage was notified in a letter from Nazi authorities acknowledging Brundage’s pro-Nazi sympathies. Avery Brundage then became the leader of the post-war Olympic movement and official President of the IOC from 1952 to 1972. Brundage introduced Juan Antonio Samaranch to the IOC in 1966 as a man “whom he trusted and loved”.

 

Above is the last known picture of Samaranch (pictured center) saluting with his fascist comrades. The photo was taken in Barcelona in July, 1974 two years after the Munich Massacre. He was a member and loyal friend of Spain’s fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. At the time of the photo, Samaranch was a vice-president of the IOC. Six years later, the IOC elected him President.

German Police, German Secret Service, Interpol and the Nazi Connection

Paul Dickopf was a Nazi member of the NSDAP and SS. After WWII, Dickopf rose quickly through the ranks of the Federal Police of West Germany and became head of the BKA (similar to the American FBI) in 1965, bringing many former Nazi agents with him. He was the President of Interpol from 1968 until 1972.  While his former Nazi connections were well known, Dickopf was still able to make the Federal Criminal Police a safe haven for former Nazis and SS officials during his time as president of the BKA and then Interpol.

The PLO, Black September and the Nazi Connection

Hajj Amin al-Husseini the Fatah founder and the political administrator of Arab Palestine was a close ally of Nazi Germany and helped form the Muslim SS-brigade in Bosnia. After WWll, he escaped to Egypt, where some ex-Nazi officers found refuge as well. There, he was introduced to Yasser Arafat, the founder of the PLO by the president of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nassar to work together to destroy Israel. Yasser Arafat became Al-Husseini’s protégé and was introduced to ex-Nazi commandos to learn gorilla fighting tactics. In 1970 Fatah and the PLO merged.

The Story from Black September

As a commander of Black September and co founder of Fatah, Abu Daoud was the mastermind behind the Munich Massacre. According to Daoud, the plot was hatched only six weeks before the Massacre on July 15 1972 and funded by current PA president Mahmoud Abass. In July, Abu Daoud and Abu Iyad joined another Black September leader, Abu Mohammed, at a café in Rome’s Piazza della Rotonda. Reading a newspaper, they saw a report that the IOC had failed to respond to two requests from Palestinians to be permitted to take their team to the 1972 Olympic Games. “If they refuse to let us participate, why shouldn’t we penetrate the Games in our own way?” Abu Mohammed asked.

The Israelis’ Fear

Israel had learned of the plot for the Munich Games and subsequently asked the authorities in Germany and the IOC to allow them to send extra security for their athletes – that request was rejected. In fact, the team was housed in a relatively isolated part of the Olympic Village, in a small building close to a gate, which Israeli delegation head Shmuel Lalkin felt made his team particularly vulnerable to an outside assault. The West German authorities and IOC assured Lalkin that extra security would be provided for the Israeli team. However, the Israeli athletes did not have extra security and were left completely vulnerable.

The Munich Massacre was the perfect Nazi plot to kill more Jews on West German soil just 27 years after the Holocaust while making the world believe that this was just another Israeli and Palestinian “conflict”, thus erasing all fingerprints of the IOC, German Law Enforcement, German Secret Service and Interpol.

I am calling on the German government to release all secret documents regarding the Munich Massacre. It’s time to stop the charade and let the families of the fallen athletes find justice and let the world know the whole truth.

I am also calling on the world body to lift the IOC’s immunity against lawsuits, which has been their safeguard. History tells us that the IOC may to this day be filled with Nazi and Fascist sympathizers, as power positions have been ‘inherited’ from people strongly and intimately connected with the Nazi party. If the IOC insist on more silence or deflection of their role in this tragedy, the world must assume that previous Nazi sympathizers in the IOC have indeed “passed the torch” to those in power today. The IOC needs to face justice for their role in this massacre. For a non-profit organization worth over 50 billion dollars, second only to Apple, their legal immunity protects them from their role in the tragic loss of Olympians at the Olympic Games, where politics should play no part. Owning up to this sordid history is their responsibility to the families of the Olympians that were brutally slain.

My name is Guri Weinberg and I am the son of Moshe Weinberg, the Israeli wrestling coach murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. And I repeat the message I sent the IOC four years ago – I am not going away.

Multiple deaths reported at shooting in Munich shopping mall


Gunmen went on a shooting rampage in a shopping mall in the southern German city of Munich on Friday, killing and wounding many people, police said.

It was the third major act of violence against civilian targets to take place in Western Europe in eight days. Previous attacks in France and Germany were claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

Munich police said they suspected it was a terrorist attack.

Authorities were evacuating people from the Olympia mall but many others were hiding inside. Munich's main railway station was also being evacuated.

A Munich police spokeswoman said multiple people were killed or wounded. No suspects had been arrested yet, she said.

“We believe we are dealing with a shooting rampage,” the spokeswoman said.

Bavarian broadcaster BR said six people were dead and many wounded in the shopping mall.

NTV television had reported the Bavarian Interior Ministry as saying three people were dead, but the ministry said later it would not confirm this.

More than one gunman was believed to be involved, the police spokeswoman said.

“We believe there was more than one perpetrator. The first reports came at 6 p.m., the shooting apparently began at a McDonald's in the shopping centre. There are still people in the shopping centre. We are trying to get the people out and take care of them,” she said.

Police special forces had arrived at the scene, NTV said.

Munich police said on Facebook that witnesses reported three different people with weapons. Shooting was also reported on Hanauer Street and Ries Streetet, near the mall.

The police told people to stay in their homes or take cover in buildings. Authorities were evacuating people from the Olympia mall. But many others were hiding inside, an employee told Reuters by telephone.

“Many shots were fired, I can't say how many but it's been a lot,” the employee, who declined to be identified, said from the mall.

“All the people from outside came streaming into the store and I only saw one person on the ground who was so severely injured that he definitely didn't survive,”

“We have no further information, we're just staying in the back in the storage rooms. No police have approached us yet.”

Munich transport authorities said they had halted several bus, train and tram lines.

The shopping center is next to the Munich Olympic stadium, where the Palestinian militant group Black September took 11 Israeli athletes hostage and eventually killed them during the 1972 Olympic Games.

IS SUPPORTERS CELEBRATE

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but supporters of Islamic State celebrated the rampage on social media.

“Thank God, may God bring prosperity to our Islamic State men,” read one tweet.

“The Islamic state is expanding in Europe,” read another.

Friday's attack took place a week after a 17-year-old asylum-seeker wounded passengers on a German train in an axe rampage. Bavarian police shot dead the teenager after he wounded four people from Hong Kong on the train and injured a local resident while fleeing.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told Bild newspaper's Friday edition before the mall attack that there was “no reason to panic but it's clear that Germany remains a possible target”.

The incidents in Germany follow an attack in Nice, France, on Bastille Day in which a Tunisian drove a truck into crowds, killing 84. Islamic State also claimed responsibility for that attack.

Friday is also the five-year anniversary of the massacre by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway. Breivik is a hero for far-right extremists in Europe and America.

The Munich assault was also reminiscent of Islamist militant attacks in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013 and on a hotel in Mumbai, India, in November 2008.

Gunmen launch deadly attack on Munich shopping mall, whereabouts unknown


Gunmen attacked a busy mall in the German city of Munich on Friday evening, killing at least eight people and sending shoppers running for their lives from what police said was a terrorist attack.

Authorities told the public to get off the streets as the city – Germany's third biggest – went into lockdown with transport halted and highways sealed off.

A police spokesman said three gunmen were on the run after the initial shooting subsided. The city was placed under a state of emergency as police hunted for them.

“We are telling the people of Munich there are shooters on the run who are dangerous,” he said. “We are urging people to stay indoors.”

Police said later that eight people had been killed and an undetermined number wounded. A ninth body had also been found and they were checking to see it was one of the gunmen.

Munich newspaper TZ said one of the shooters was dead. German news magazine Focus said a gunman had shot himself in the head. Reuters could not immediately confirm either report.

As special forces deployed in the city, some people remained holed up in the Olympia shopping centre which police said had been evacuated.

“Many shots were fired, I can't say how many but it's been a lot,” said a shop worker hiding in a store room inside the mall.

It was the third major act of violence against civilians in Western Europe in eight days. Previous attacks in France and Germany were claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

A police spokesman said there was no immediate indication that it was an Islamist attack but it was being treated as a terrorist incident.

Friday is also the five-year anniversary of the massacre by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in which he killed 77 people. Breivik is a hero for far-right militants in Europe and America.

IS SUPPORTERS CELEBRATE

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but supporters of Islamic State celebrated on social media.

“The Islamic state is expanding in Europe,” read one Tweet.

Two witnesses told n-tv television that they saw a man dressed as Santa Claus walking away from the scene of the shooting with a crowd of people. One said the man had blonde hair, was not carrying a weapon but had a suitcase.

A video posted online – whose authenticity could not be confirmed – showed a man dressed in black outside a McDonalds by the roadside, drawing a handgun and shooting towards members of the public.

A worker at a shop in the mall, Harun Balta, said: “We are still stuck inside the mall without any information, we're waiting for the police to rescue us.”

Police spokeswoman said six people were killed and an undetermined number wounded. Thye were treating it as a terrorist incident.

Witnesses had seen shooting both inside the mall and on nearby streets, he said.

Munich's main railway station was also evacuated. BR television said police had also sealed off many highways north of Munich had been shut down and people were told to leave them.

The shopping centre is next to the Munich Olympic stadium, where the Palestinian militant group Black September took 11 Israeli athletes hostage and eventually killed them during the 1972 Olympic Games.

Friday's attack took place a week after a 17-year-old asylum-seeker wounded passengers on a German train with an axe. Bavarian police shot dead the teenager after he wounded four people from Hong Kong on the train and injured a local resident while fleeing.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told Bild newspaper's Friday edition before the mall attack that there was “no reason to panic but it's clear that Germany remains a possible target”.

The incidents in Germany follow an attack in Nice, France, on Bastille Day in which a Tunisian drove a truck into crowds, killing 84. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said on Twiiter: “Horrible killings in Munich. Taking place on the same day as we mourn & remember the appalling terror that hit Norway so hard five years ago.”

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged support for Germany.

“We don't yet know exactly what's happening there, but obviously our hearts go out to those who may have been injured,” Obama said.

Munich state museum profited from Nazi-looted art, investigation shows


A state museum in Munich profited from art looted by the Nazis at least until the 1990s, a new investigation has revealed.

In a joint probe, the Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the British NGO Commission for Looted Art in Europe found that the Bavarian State Galleries and many other such institutions have been sitting on art that was forcibly “purchased” from Jewish collectors under the Nazi regime.

The museums have tried to disguise the origin of the artworks, and even sold some of them without seeking the rightful owners or their heirs, according to the investigation.

The deception began as soon as American authorities handed over the restitution task to the Bavarian administration in 1949, according to the report. Thousands of artworks were in question.

Reportedly, German authorities kept some and sold others at deflated prices, including to members of prominent Nazi families such as the widow of Hermann Goering and Henriette von Schirach (nee Hoffmann), the wife of Hitler’s district governor, or “Gauleiter,” in Vienna.

The newspaper traces the story of how von Schirach came by one small painting, “Picture of a Dutch Square,” by Johannes van der Heydes that originally belonged to a Czech-Jewish couple, the consul general to Vienna, Gottlieb Krause, and his wife, Mathilde. The Krause family fled to the United States in April 1938, putting their possessions in storage.

But the property was later confiscated by the Gestapo and artworks were sold to, among others, the planned “Führermuseum” in Linz, Austria, and to the father of von Schirach, Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s official photographer and an art collector.

After the war, the painting was among the thousands of works to be returned to rightful heirs. But the Bavarian State Galleries sold it back to von Schirach for 300 Deutschmark, and she promptly auctioned it off for 16,000 Deutschmarks to the Xanten Cathedral Association; it was on display in the cathedral until 2011.

Meanwhile, the paper reported, the great-grandson of the Krauses, John Graykowski, has been seeking restitution of the family’s collection in vain.

Munich marks this Kristallnacht by making room for boycotters of the Jewish State


The worldwide Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is the twenty-first century’s highest profile anti-Israel global campaign that meets the “three D” ( Double standard, Deligitimization, and Demonization) litmus test for crossing the line between legitimate criticism of the Jewish state and toxic anti-Semitism: Never designed to help a single Palestinian, BDS singles out Israel exclusively for criticism, ignoring the major human rights abusers around the world, while distorting the Jewish state’s actions to defend herself from terrorist attacks by means of false and malicious comparisons with Nazi Germany and South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

So it is almost beyond belief that the city government of Munich is allowing a BDS event to be held in the Gasteig Building, a tax-payer funded city building, as part of Munich’s “cultural program.” German Jews are especially appalled by the effrontery that such an event would be scheduled on November 9, the same day that Kristallnacht commemorations are being held to remember country-wide November, 1938 Nazi pogroms that burned German synagogues, attacked and sent thousands of Jews to concentration camps.

Charlotte Knobloch, is a Holocaust survivor who heads the 9,500-members of the Jewish community of Munich, the city where the Nazi movement was originally organized.

Knobloch has warned that: “The BDS campaign disguises the socially unacceptable ’Don’t buy from Jews!’ as a modernized form of Nazi jargon by demanding ‘Don’t buy from the Jewish State’.”

Knobloch denounced the event as “a continued effort to defame, delegitimize, ostracize Israel under the cloak of allegedly legitimate criticism” and launching pad for “a comprehensive boycott against Israel will be announced aimed at hurting economics, science, culture and all areas of life.”

German authorities refused to join her denunciation. The spokesman for Munich’s Social Democratic Mayor Dieter Reiter said he “could not judge” whether the Social Democratic mayor opposes or supports a boycott of Israel. One local politician, Richard Quaas, a Munich city councilman from the Christian Social Union, did call on the city to cancel the rental agreement with the BDS group.

As Germans debate how they will deal with the influx of up to 1 million Muslims, it would also be a good time to remember how their nation dealt with the Jewish minority in the last century. Nazi newspapers started calling for boycotts of Jewish businesses after World War I, despite the outstanding record of the over 100,000 Germany Jews who served in the German Army. As Hitler rose in political popularity in 1930, SA Stormtroopers or Brown Shirts began a sporadic terror campaign including harassment, vandalism, and kidnapping Jewish judges, lawyers, doctors, and anti-Nazi activists.

Following Hitler’s coming to power on January 30, 1933, the Nazi leadership decided on an organized boycott of Jewish businesses. On April 1, the first nationwide boycott was ordered, with Berlin’s 50,000 Jewish businesses in the crosshairs. In broken store windows, signs were posted “Jews Are Our Misfortune!” and “Go back to Palestine!”

The Nazis inspired similar boycotts elsewhere, including Austria. In Poland, the head of the Catholic Church and Polish Prime Minister called for boycotts against Jews. In Hungary, the government passed laws limiting Jewish economic activity from 1938 onwards. In Palestine, the first anti-Jewish boycotts coincided with bloody anti-Jewish riots whose battle cry was “O Arab! Remember that the Jew is your strongest enemy of your ancestors since olden times.”

North America was not immune. In Quebec, French-Canadian nationalists organized boycotts of Jews in the thirties. In the U.S., the Nazi anti-Jewish boycott had defenders in distinguished academic circles, just as anti-Israel BDS campaign thrives on many university campuses today. At a time when Ivy League schools imposed discriminatory admission quotas on Jewish students, Harvard Professor S. B. Fay blamed German suffering during the Depression on anti-Hitler protestors.  Fay told the Harvard Crimson student newspaper that Germany’s affairs were “none of any other country's business.”

Cloaked in the rhetoric of nonviolent resistance, the BDS Movement today is nothing like the nonviolent Montgomery Bus Boycott protest campaign of the 1950s—which invoked Christian love against white racism. BDSers habitually cross the line, deploying historically toxic language demonizing the Jewish State and Jews everywhere.

BDS’ publicly-stated goal is to “end occupation in the territories.” Under siege by terrorists today, Israel had already unilaterally withdrawn from Gaza in 2005 and is committed to a two-state solution if only it had a willing peace partner ready to accept a Jewish neighbor. Instead, as Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) confirmed to Palestinian students, the BDS Movement is really a public relations stunt designed to prepare the ground for the ultimate goal of the destruction of Israel.

As Germany welcomes twenty-first century refugees, they must not endanger the lives of descendants millions of Jews who were stripped of their rights, cast out as refugees in the 1930s, ghettoized, gunned down or gassed by the German Third Reich in the 1940s. In 2015, German leaders including those in Munich have a historic and moral obligation never to embrace those who aid and abet forces that would destroy the State of Israel—home to 6 million Jews.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center 

Historian Dr. Harold Brackman is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Is Munich 1938 a valid analogy for the Iran nuclear deal?


Many commentators — and not only Jews — compare the agreement between Iran and the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China to Munich 1938. Is this admittedly overused comparison valid?

Let’s review what happened in 1938. That year, democratic Western nations assured a police state, the Nazi regime, that they would do nothing to prevent its expansion. That year, the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, went to Munich to negotiate with Adolf Hitler. He left believing Hitler’s promises of peace in exchange for Germany being allowed to annex large parts of Czechoslovakia. Upon returning to England, Chamberlain announced, “Peace for our time.”

Now let’s list the similarities between 1938 and now: 

The Nazi regime was a police state. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a police state. 

The Nazis’ greatest aim was to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Iran’s greatest aim is to exterminate the Jewish state. 

Nazi Germany hated the West and its freedoms. The Islamic Republic of Iran hates the West and its freedoms. 

Germany sought to dominate Europe. Iran seeks to dominate the Middle East and the Muslim world.

Britain and France appeased Nazi Germany. Britain and France, along with the United States, have chosen to appease Iran.

And perhaps most important, in 1938, the Western democracies dismissed Nazism as the Jews’ problem. Today, Iran’s nuclear program is viewed as largely Israel’s problem.

Even those who dismiss the Munich analogy cannot deny these parallels. So why do they dismiss it? One example appeared in these pages. A professor of Holocaust studies wrote: “If I could wave a magic wand, I would ask the Jewish community to stop using Holocaust analogies. They simply don’t work. We are different and the world is different.”

And why, in the professor’s view, is the world so different from 1938?

“Permit me a simple example. No one disputes that Israel has second-strike capacity and that anyone who contemplates a nuclear attack on Israel must take into account Israel’s retaliatory capacity, its ability to attack its attackers and to deliver its own weapons of mass destruction with devastating results. Such a capacity did not exist at Auschwitz.”

This response actually reinforces the legitimacy of the Munich analogy — and increases one’s fears for Israel. If the reason 2015 is not 1938 is that, unlike the Jews of Europe, Israel has a retaliatory capacity “to deliver its own weapons of mass destruction with devastating results,” Israel may be doomed. 

Why?

Because the Iranian regime doesn’t care if Israel retaliates.

Just as Hitler cared more about killing Jews than winning World War II (read, for example, Lucy Dawidowicz’s “The War Against the Jews”), the Iranian regime is far more interested in annihilating Israel than in preserving Iranians’ lives. Iran knows it can survive a nuclear attack far better than can Israel. Iran has a population of 78 million people living on 636,000 square miles. Israel has a population of 8 million people living on 8,000 square miles. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) worked to prevent the Soviets from using nuclear weapons because Soviet leaders cared about living and even about their fellow citizens living. But for those Islamists whose motto is “We love death as much as the Jews love life,” MAD is an invitation, not a deterrence. 

Today, people mock Chamberlain. But in fact, there is considerably less defense for the Iran agreement — which gives Iran $150 billion in currently frozen assets, the right to keep its nuclear program, and guarantees of protection against attacks on its program — than there was for the Munich agreement. 

Before 1938, Hitler had not publicly proclaimed his aim to annihilate Europe’s Jews. Yet, Iran has been proclaiming its intention to annihilate the Jewish state for decades. There were no massive “Death to America” demonstrations in Germany as there regularly are in Iran. In 1938, Germany had not been responsible for terror around the world as Iran is now. Nor was Germany responsible for the death of more than a thousand Americans as Iran has been — in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) used the Holocaust analogy in 2012: “I agree with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to Israel. One nuclear weapon, hurled from Iran to Israel, could end the Jewish state and could kill almost as many Jews as did Hitler.”

Retired Israeli statesman Shimon Peres said that humanity must “learn the lessons of the Holocaust and stand up to existential threats before it is too late. Iran is at the center of threat.”

And you don’t have to be a Jew to find the analogy apt. In The Wall Street Journal last week, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson wrote: “Like President [Barack] Obama today, Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was playing for time in 1938, reasoning that a conflict at that point would be worse than a conflict in the future.”

The agreement is so awful that, if it stands, Iran won’t even need to use a nuclear weapon in order to become more dangerous than it already is to America, the Sunni Arab world and the West — or to threaten Israel with mass death.

The ending of sanctions gives Iran hundreds of billions of dollars with which to sponsor terror around the world, provide Hezbollah and Hamas with many additional and more powerful weapons to use against Israel and to more fully establish its police state in Iran.

Why then did Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry so push for this agreement — which includes a provision (Annex Three) that compels the United States and all the other signatories to aid Iran in protecting that country against a cyber or physical attack on its nuclear facilities? Because, as they repeatedly say, they want to bring Iran into the “community of nations.”

Whoever believes that the agreement will bring Iran into the community of nations betrays a breathtaking ignorance about that regime. The Iranian regime is composed of religious fanatics who are morally indistinguishable from ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and all the other mass-murdering Islamist movements. 

Such naive thinking about evil is why responsible people liken Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain. Iran should be excluded from, not brought into, the community of nations.


Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles from 9 a.m. to noon on KRLA (AM 870). His latest project is the Internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).

Rio 2016 Olympic Village to commemorate Munich massacre, other deaths


The International Olympic Committee will erect a place to mourn family and friends at the 2016 Games in Rio, including the 11 Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The closing ceremony also will feature a moment of reflection to remember those who have died at the Olympic Games, such as the Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed in a training accident at the start of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

The moves are seen as an attempt to appease critics of the IOC who have said that it has not gone far enough in memorializing the Jewish athletes in Munich who were taken hostage and then killed by the Palestinian group Black September. The games were suspended for a day before resuming.

IOC President Thomas Bach said Sunday that the IOC will “remember all those who have lost their lives at the Olympic Games.”

“We want to give the athletes the opportunity to express their mourning in a dignified way and environment in the Olympic Village where representatives of the whole world are living peacefully under the same roof,” he said. “At the Closing Ceremony, the Games come to an end and many people feel that it is a moment to remember people who have died at the Olympic Games.”

Alex Gilady, who represents Israel on the IOC, called the move “a good and positive step by the members of the International Olympic Committee,” according to Ynet. “The ability to see the issue not only through Israeli eyes, but through a wider view, represents a change and a big step forward.”

The IOC rejected an in-person appeal, accompanied by a petition signed by more than 100,000 people, for a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies of the London Games in 2012 by the widows of two of the 11 Israelis slain at Munich to mark 40 years since the tragedy. The IOC has rejected repeated calls by family members of the athletes murdered at Munich and the Israeli government for such a moment of silence.

Former IOC President Jacques Rogge led a minute of silence inside the Olympic Village during the 2012 Games, attended a private ceremony in London during the Olympics and took part in a commemoration on the 40th anniversary on Sept. 5, 2012, at the Munich airport where most of the Israelis died.

After Geneva, Iran’s nuclear deal remains a conundrum


Last month’s nuclear deal with Iran has set off a cacophony of pro and con acrimony pitting public officials, academic experts and pundits against one another.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the interim accord a “historic mistake.” The Wall Street Journal headlined columnist Bret Stephens’ commentary that Geneva was “Worse Than Munich.”  Proponents took quite a different view.  Speaking to the country the evening of the deal, President Barack Obama declared “diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.” Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the accord “realistic” and “practical.”

The divide is no sanctimonious dust-up, but a genuine difference of opinion over the best strategy to halt Iran’s suspect nuclear program. The president’s stance — the hope that good-faith negotiation, however difficult, coupled with the continued application of the most onerous sanctions can resolve the issue — butts against the argument that negotiations and minimal sanctions relief simply oxygenates a regime on its last legs and riddled by economic and political dysfunction. In this latter view, now is not the time to sit with the Iranians. As famed human rights activist Natan Sharansky put it in the Wall Street Journal, now is the time to be firm and resolute. Both attributes, he argues, brought down the Soviet Union and can bring down Iran as well. 

However, history finds that both positions don’t quite compute. The fact remains, all courses of action mark a bet. Contrary to Sharansky’s portrait, Washington’s effort to bring down the Soviet Union marked a mixture of engagement and isolation. Even as Moscow’s union began to crack, the United States kept the lines of communication open. In the end, talking did not prevent collapse.    

But then there remains the other talk history. Here is where North Korea becomes the Iran-like poster child Netanyahu repeatedly reminds the international community about. And, indeed, the story is unsettling. In 1994, Washington and Pyongyang entered into an understanding known as the Agreed Framework. Under the accord, North Korea consented to freeze nuclear operations and eventually dismantle the suspect Yongbyong nuclear reactor. In return, the United States assisted in the provision of heating oil for North Korea, while assembling an international consortium to build two nuclear power plants. Then, in 2005, Pyongyang agreed to go further and abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. A year later, it exploded its first nuclear device.    

This rather poor precedent for diplomatic success has multiple antecedents. Israel proved to be the first. During years of construction, the Israeli government represented to Washington that it intended the Dimona reactor to be a civil nuclear research enterprise. President John Kennedy didn’t buy it and committed himself to stop it. Correspondence between the young president and the wily David Ben-Gurion became testy, only to fall away with the assassination of the American leader.    

In South Asia, the United States went beyond talk to stop two nuclear programs by applying economic and military sanctions against both India and Pakistan, only to find that it had to shelve the effort against Islamabad as a greater priority — Pakistan’s importance in getting the Soviets out of Afghanistan — took precedence. For India, U.S. sanctions proved more a nuisance and were entirely lifted during the George W. Bush administration. 

Cases where diplomacy proved more effective — Taiwan and South Korea toyed with the nuclear weapons option — reflected the heavy reliance each placed on the American security blanket. Washington’s clear message: Alliances will be in jeopardy if allies proliferate.

Clearly, Iran is no South Korea or Taiwan, but neither is it North Korea. As Wendy Sherman, Washington’s lead Iran negotiator, put it, Iran is “a different time, different culture, a different system.” The result: Where North Korea sees isolation necessary for regime survival, Iran sees trouble. Evidently the goods of the good life attract many Iranians, and the leadership sees them as necessary for regime survival. But the good life is not sustainable if oil exports, accounting for three-quarters of the country’s total, shrink under the pressure of sanctions from 2.3 million barrels a day to 1 million barrels. Nor is there a good life for many with inflation running at 50 percent and unemployment at 25 percent.  While international sanctions are not the sole cause of Iran’s economic malaise, they evidently have been onerous enough to bring Iran to the bargaining table to sign on to the Geneva Accord.

It is worth noting what a change this is. Although the recent bargaining has drawn much attention, it was not a de novo but the culmination of a decade-long effort that commenced in earnest in 2003, when European negotiators attempted to talk Iran out of enrichment. While there remains debate about possible missed opportunities in these and later talks, the dragging of time the negotiations allowed permitted Iran — like North Korea — to expand its nuclear venture dramatically. The question today is whether the costs of this effort have now come home to roost to force Iran to curtail its nuclear activities.

Implementation of the interim agreement will be the first test. True, it does not eliminate Iran’s weapons breakout capacity, but it does curtail the known enterprise. Significant is the rollback of Tehran’s 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile, something the international community has been striving to achieve for years. Iran also will cap its low-enrichment stocks and limit operation of its 19,000 centrifuges to the 10,000 operating today. While not ideal — ideal would be the cessation of all enrichment mandated by the Security Council — it is better than the alternative, continued unabated operations.

Arguably less impressive is Iran’s commitment not to commission the Arak reactor during the next six months, an objective it was not likely to fulfill in any event, although the agreement to halt production, testing or transfer of fuel or installation of reactor components will slow the plant’s completion.

Finally, the interim agreement expands the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) verification, allowing daily visits to enrichment sites. But here the news looks better on paper than it actually is. The IAEA already monitors Fordow and Natanz with cameras and periodic visits. However, “managed access” to centrifuge production and storage sites mark a first, giving international inspectors a far better overview of Iran’s future centrifuge capacity. Other concessions granted IAEA in separate negotiations — allowance to visit a uranium mine, heavy water production plant, access to information on all research reactors, plans for additional enrichment plants and laser enrichment — still do not get to the core of the nuclear watchdog’s effort to unravel what Iran is up to.

So what does Iran get out of this? The benefits seem rather modest — a waiver in trade of petro chemical, gold and precious metal, automobile and civil airline parts in addition to the repatriation of some $7 billion held abroad that Tehran may attempt to leverage, still a relatively small sum considering the country’s economic needs.  

As we look forward, Iran’s compliance with the spirit and letter of Geneva’s interim accord will be a test. If Tehran fails the test, the more ambitious permanent agreement will never advance to signature. But even fidelity offers no guarantee, as U.S. and allied demands in the next round of talks reportedly will be much tougher: Closure of the heavily bunkered Fordow enrichment plant and dramatic reductions of operations at Natanz, allowing it just to produce enough low-enriched uranium to meet the country’s minimal civil nuclear needs. Dismantlement or conversion of the Arak nuclear plant to a far less threatening light water reactor. Granting the IAEA unfettered access to the totality of Iran’s nuclear activities.

Should these talks fail, waiting in the wings will be the Sharansky template to isolate Iran further. But it, too, promises no certainties of anything. Still, it may force the mullahs to make a difficult choice: One, accept the costs of economic sanctions, believing the country will adapt if it believes that maintaining a nuclear weapons breakout capability best assures national survival. The other, bend as little as necessary to P5+1 demands, hoping that tension relaxation will be sufficient to support the regime’s tottering economic foundation without undermining the hostility to the West and Israel the regime needs to justify its rule.

In the interim, the next round of negotiations will have to play out.  

Stay tuned.


Bennett Ramberg served as a foreign policy analyst in the Department of State, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration. His academic appointments included positions at Princeton and UCLA. The author of three books on international politics and editor of three others, Ramberg is best known for what many believe is the classic treatment of the consequences of military strikes on nuclear installations, “Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy” (University of California Press).

Website with sample of Nazi-looted art is overwhelmed


A website showing a small sample from a trove of Nazi-looted art found in a Munich apartment was flooded with hits.

Out of a total of more than 1,400 works, an initial list of 25 with photos went online Monday.

“There were so many hits that the site was overwhelmed,” a staff member of the German Federal Coordination Center for Lost Art, based in Magdeburg, told JTA. She said works would be added to the list gradually.

German authorities bowed to international pressure by publishing a partial list of the works. The list may help those who are trying to reunite the long-lost art with their rightful heirs.

The find — including works by Chagall, Picasso, Matisse and Beckmann — was publicized by the Munich-based Focus magazine earlier this month.

Inquiries from potential heirs or their representatives should be sent to the office of the State Prosecutor in Augsburg at poststelle@sta-a.bayern.de.

Germany also is assembling a task force of experts to speed up provenance research. Heading the team will be German attorney Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, former assistant secretary to the federal commissioner for culture and media.

Customs investigators seized the paintings, sketches and sculptures, dating from the 16th century to the modern period, last year but stayed silent until now because they had chanced upon the art during a tax evasion probe, which compels secrecy.

The secrecy and the failure so far to publish a complete list of the works has attracted criticism from those who argue that publicizing such finds is crucial to establishing their ownership and returning them to their rightful owners.

A statement on the Lost Art website explained that about 970 of the works found in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt — son of the Nazi-era collector Hildebrand Gurlitt — may fall into the category of art deemed by the Nazis to be “degenerate,” or works stolen during the Nazi era. Of these, 380 have been identified as works that the Nazis confiscated during their “Action Against Degenerate Art” campaign in 1937.

Researchers are investigating the background of the remaining works, the center said in its statement.

75 years after Kristallnacht: Time to toughen up and reclaim our memory


Seventy-five years later, the very word Kristallnacht still casts a long shadow — on Europe and on the Jewish people.

The countrywide pogrom orchestrated in 1938 by the German High Command marked the Nazi regime’s transition from the quasi-legal, anti-Jewish discrimination of the Nuremberg Laws to the coming of the Final Solution. Official statistics — 91 Jews were killed, thousands more put into concentration camps, 267 synagogues burned and 7,500 Jewish businesses vandalized — fail to capture the sheer sense of terror and impending doom that afterward enveloped German and Austrian Jews. Beyond the horrors of those nights, Jewry witnessed the overwhelming indifference and antipathy of neighbors, and of police and firemen who were deployed not to protect houses of worship, only the adjacent property of proper Aryans.

In his diary, Joseph Goebbels chortled: “As I am driven to the hotel [in Munich], windowpanes shatter. Bravo! Bravo! The synagogues burn like big old cabins.”

He and Hitler had reason to celebrate. The world didn’t give a damn about the Jews, and the path from burning hulks of shuls would lead to the ashes of mass-murdered Jews spewing forth from death camp crematoria, covered by the fog of war and buried by an indifferent humanity.

But another conflagration would soon envelop all of Europe. Cities from London to Warsaw to Leningrad were engulfed in flames by the Nazi Blitzkrieg. But by the time World War II ended, those very streets in Munich and Berlin where synagogues were torched and from where Jews were disappeared, were themselves reduced to rubble by the onslaught of Allied firebombs.

Seventy-five years later, the images of Kristallnacht are reduced to grainy photos and footage. The last of the surviving victims and victimizers, heroes and bystanders are leaving the world stage, leaving us to ponder: What, if anything, have we learned?

Is European hatred of Jews a thing of the past?

Manfred Gerstenfeld, a respected author and expert, has analyzed polls taken across the continent and estimates that at least 150 million Europeans still harbor extreme anti-Jewish and/or anti-Israel animus.

Do Europe’s Jews feel safe?

Twenty-five percent are afraid to wear kippot or Star of David jewelry in public. Attacks on European Jewish institutions aren’t ugly footnotes of history. While today armed police stand on guard across Europe protecting synagogues, 80 synagogues have been attacked in recent years in Germany alone. Jewish children have been targeted for bullying in Scandinavia and for insult, injury, even death on the campuses of French day schools and yeshivot.

And there is more, much more. This isn’t only about Islamist extremists for whom Jew is a dirty word. There is increasing European mainstream hate and disrespecting of Jews, their homeland and core Judaic values.

From Greece to Hungary and Ukraine, political parties increase their clout by playing the ant-Semitism card. Campaigns are under way in the mainstream of Europe’s democracies to criminalize the core Judaic mitzvot of brit milah and shechita.

And in the ultimate insult to our people — living and dead — respected European NGOs, politicians, media and prominent church leaders cast Israelis as latter-day Nazis, while protesters chanting “Death to Israel” and “Jews to the Ovens” went unchallenged. Meanwhile, anti-Israel ideologues audaciously hijack Holocaust commemoration and education. How bad can it get? At the 65th anniversary of Kristallnacht commemoration, Norwegian authorities —“not wanting any trouble” — forbade any Jewish symbols, including the Star of David and the Israeli flag, from being displayed. The evening news showed a group of Jews attempting to join the commemoration being firmly told by a policeman to “please leave the area.”

This Kristallnacht we must start by reclaiming memory.

On Oct. 24, I was part of a Simon Wiesenthal Center delegation that met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. In his exchange with the pope, my colleague and mentor, Wiesenthal Center dean and founder Rabbi Marvin Hier offered this insight into the dual dimensions of Jewish memory. He quoted Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (“Fate and Destiny”), “Evil is an undeniable fact. …  It exists, and I will neither deny it nor camouflage it.” Rabbi Hier added, “Evil existed during the time of Moses as it did in Jesus’ time and as it does in our own time.”

That is the reason why, Soloveitchik teaches us, the Torah has two ways of expressing memory. One is positive, zachor, to remember, reach out, dialogue, to find common ground.  The other dimension is negative, lo tishkach, do not forget to act when you are dealing with evil.

Here are three points that can help us protect and nurture the memory and lessons of the Shoah.

First: Memo to European leaders: If you don’t respect live Jews, don’t join our minyan mourning 6 million dead Jews.

Second: Stop de-Judaizing the Nazi Holocaust. The Shoah is not an abstract idea. Anne Frank and 6 million of her brethren were murdered by the Nazis and their European collaborators — only because she and they were Jews. Public memorials and teaching modules omitting this truth desecrate the dead.

Third: We Jews have to toughen up. Accepting the status quo in Europe is demeaning and only emboldens the bigots on the street and in the halls of parliaments. This is an area where younger Jews on both sides of the Atlantic must take a stand. Going on vacation to Paris, Rome or London? Make a point of publicly showing you are a proud Jew. And you don’t have to eat kosher to understand that Norway’s law banning kosher slaughter since 1929 is an insult to every Jew. How about a social networking campaign to shame them to action?

2013 is not 1938. But, we Jews dare not repeat the mistakes of the 1930s by pinning our hopes that Europe’s leaders will do the heavy lifting to defend our rights. Only we can secure our dignity. 

As Simon Wiesenthal himself often said: “Freedom is not a gift from heaven. It must be fought for every day.” Zachor, lo tiskhach.


Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance.

Iran’s supreme leader rejects direct talks with U.S.


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, rejected a U.S. proposal for direct talks between the two countries.

Khamenei was responding to offers from the United States, including last week by Vice President Joseph Biden at the Munich security conference, to hold a one-on-one dialogue on Iran's nuclear program.

“The Iranian nation will not negotiate under pressure,” Khamenei told air force commanders in his Tehran office, with his remarks reported on his personal website, The New York Times reported.

“The U.S. is pointing a gun at Iran and wants us to talk to them,” Khamenei said, referring to sanctions against Iran, including new ones levied Wednesday. “The Iranian nation will not be intimidated by these actions.”

Khamenei's rejection comes after some high-ranking Iranian officials, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, said they were open to such talks, according to The New York Times. Khamenei's objection means the issue is closed.

He added, “Direct talks will not solve any problems.”

Iran is scheduled to meet with world powers for multilateral nuclear talks at the end of the month in Kazakhstan.

Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for domestic, peaceful purposes. Western powers believe Iran is preparing to build nuclear weapons.

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.”

IOC denies in-person appeal for minute of silence


The International Olympic Committee rejected an in-person appeal for a minute of silence at the opening ceremonies of the London Games by the widows of two of the 11 Israelis slain at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano presented their request to IOC President Jacques Rogge on Wednesday along with a petition with more than 100,000 signatures. Rogge again denied the request.

Rogge held a minute of silence in memory of the murdered 11 athletes and coaches at a small ceremony Monday in the Olympic Village. The widows have said the gesture was not sufficient.

“We are outraged by the denial of the request, which comes not only from us but from so many people around the world,” Spitzer said in a statement. “Our husbands were murdered at the Olympics in Munich. To observe a minute of silence in their memory would let the world know where the IOC stands in the fight against terrorism.”

Organizers of the campaign for a minute of silence have called on attendees at the opening ceremonies on Friday to stand and hold their own minute of silence at the beginning of Rogge’s speech.

The campaign has drawn the support of numerous public figures, including President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Spitzer’s husband, Andrei, was a fencing coach. Romano’s husband, Yossef, was a weightlifter.

Munich widows call for own moment of silence at opening ceremonies


Widows of Israelis murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics are asking the crowd at the opening ceremonies of the London Games to stand for a minute of silence, regardless of whether the International Olympic Committee recognizes it.

“He told us that when he heard the explosions in the Olympic village, he debated whether to continue in the Games or go home, and decided not to let terror win,” Ilana Romano, wife of Yossef Romano, a weightlifter who was murdered in the 1972 attack, said at a news conference. “Jacques Rogge, you have let terror win today.”

Rogge is the president of the IOC, which repeatedly has refused to hold a moment of silence at Friday’s opening ceremonies in memory of the 11 murdered athletes and coaches.

The movement to hold a moment of silence at the Olympics has gathered steam after beginning as an online petition two years ago. International politicians and public figures, including President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have called for an official moment of silence.

Rogge held a moment of silence for the murdered athletes at a small ceremony in the Olympic Village on Monday.

Editorial Cartoon: The Endless Relay Race


Australian Jewish leaders call for national minute of silence


Australian Jewish leaders have urged all Australians to hold a moment of silence in honor of the 11 Israelis murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In a joint statement released Tuesday, Dr. Danny Lamm, head of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and Philip Chester, head of the Zionist Federation of Australia, encouraged Australians to pause at 11 a.m. local time Friday in memory of the victims. The Jewish leaders also said that they “deplore” IOC President Jacques Rogge’s refusal to hold one minute of silence at Friday’s opening ceremony in London.

“The legislatures of Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy have passed resolutions calling on the IOC to set aside one minute of silence at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Games to remember the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Olympic Games in Munich 40 years ago,” Lamm and Chester wrote. “Their calls have been endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, among others. We salute them for their principled leadership.

“May their memory help to advance the highest ideals of sport and sportsmanship which the Olympic Games were created to affirm.”

Meanwhile, Jewish lawmaker Michael Danby has added his name to a petition by the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians also calling on Rogge to hold a minute of silence in London on Friday.

On Monday, Rogge held a moment of silence during a ceremony in the Olympic Village, the first time the deaths have been commemorated in the athletes’ home during the Games.

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.

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.

British publisher to fight ‘Mein Kampf’ ban


A British publisher is vowing to fight a Munich court’s decision to permanently ban his publication of excerpts of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Peter McGee wanted to print excerpts last January in a 16-page insert to his German publication “Zeitungszeugen,” or “Newspaper Witnesses,” together with critical commentary from historians. The insert, one of three planned supplements, also would have been sold separately. But the Munich Regional Court last week upheld a restraining order issued by a lower court that barred McGee from fulfilling his goal.

The court said the right to “cite” a text does not mean it is acceptable to publish excerpts.

McGee told reporters that he respected the court decision and would not sell his supplement, which is titled “The Unreadable Book.” He said his goal was not to sensationalize but to demystify the text, and that he would continue to fight the court decision. According to the German Press Agency dpa, McGee had to make the excerpts from Hitler’s book illegible by pixilating the texts.

The Bavarian Finance Ministry holds the copyright, which bars publication until 2015 — 70 years after Hitler’s death.

In 2010, the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History was granted permission to reprint the work after the copyright runs out.

Historian Edith Raim, who is working on the annotated edition for the institute, said in an interview that excerpts of the book were published decades ago in Germany, notably by the late German historian Werner Maser.

’72 Munich Olympic attack survivors return with mixed feelings


A survivor of the 1972 Munich Olympic attack felt like he was “floating on a cloud of love” as he returned to the southern German city this week with several other team mates to take part in a documentary marking the 40th anniversary.

The seven men, all members of the then Israeli Olympic team that was attacked by Palestinian gunmen on Sept. 5, 1972, said their return to the city that marked their lives forever proved to be an experience of mixed emotions.

They were among those who managed to survive when Black September gunmen scaled the perimeter fence surrounding the Olympic athletes’ village, their weapons concealed in sports bags amid relaxed security.

Within 24 hours, 11 Israelis, five Palestinians and a German policeman were dead after a standoff and subsequent rescue effort erupted into gunfire.

“It’s a mixed feeling,” said 67-year-old former Olympic swimmer Avraham Melamed after returning to the Olympic Stadium on Thursday.

“We’re here having a great time but it is based on the worst time. Our visit here is fantastic. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud of love, but the families and the victims, and the families of the victims share a completely different reality,” said Melamed, who had escaped unharmed.

This was his first visit to Germany since 1972. He now lives in the United States.

Former fencer Dan Alon retired from his sport immediately after the attacks on his team mates.

“I always feel good in Munich but I have some bad memories also. I don’t have anything against the Germans… I have only one thing to blame, it’s the terrorists, unfortunately,” Alon told reporters.

“We hope that one day, it will be the end of terror around the world.”

His team mate, former walker Shaul Ladany, said he had been enjoying his time in Munich, sharing the Olympic experience with other athletes until the day that changed the Games for ever.

“I mingled everywhere. I had friends and I trained with the Canadians and the Americans I knew very well, the German walkers, and I trained with the Italian walkers,” said Ladany, who is also a survivor of Nazi concentration camps and visits the graves of his murdered team mates in Tel Aviv every year on September 6.

“I moved freely everywhere.”

As the 40th anniversary of the attack nears, the documentary focuses not only about the deadly event itself, but also the fate of the survivors, including those who returned to Munich.

“When it happened that Bio Channel decided to make this movie, I was very, very excited. At least now, after so many years, we can come together and tell the world everything that we know,” Alon said.

The documentary is to be broadcast on The Biography Channel on July 7, less than two months before the actual anniversary.

Reporting by Reuters Television, Writing by Karolos Grohmann

A river runs through it: Answering Spielberg’s ‘Munich’


There is a scene at the end of Steven Spielberg’s controversial 2005 film, “Munich,” that disappointed a lot of Israel’s supporters. Spielberg’s camera caresses the dramatic Manhattan skyline, pans over the East River and ends hauntingly at the Twin Towers, which were still standing at the time of the film’s events.

The reason many of us were disappointed with that ending was the strong implication that Israel’s relentless drive to avenge the 1976 Munich Olympics massacre had something to do with the subsequent 9/11 terrorist attacks that destroyed those very towers.

What is fascinating about that downbeat Hollywood ending is that, many years later, close to where those Twin Towers once stood, reality wrote a much happier ending. That ending — or, more accurately, that beginning — was written last month when it was announced that Technion — Israel Institute of Technology had won a global competition to partner with Cornell University and New York City to create a high-tech international learning center, or what is being called the Technion Cornell Institute of Innovation (TCII).

This multibillion-dollar project will attract top scientific minds from around the world and tackle the planet’s toughest problems. It will be located on Roosevelt Island in the East River, the same river over which Spielberg’s camera panned before stopping at that haunting shot of the Twin Towers. It will ultimately encompass 2.1 million square feet, with space for 2,500 students and 280 professors. Cornell plans to begin offering classes in September 2012 in leased space while construction takes place on the Roosevelt Island facility.

Little did Spielberg know that a few years after shooting “Munich,” which focused on Israel as the brutal avenger, the world would see such a dramatic depiction of another Israel — the tiny Israel of big ideas that can change the world.

This is the cruel paradox of the Israel story: A country that is forced to use its wits to defend itself but would much prefer using its wits to save the world.

Spielberg himself tried to capture that paradox in his film. Mossad agents struggle with conflicting loyalties to their country, their own families and their self-image. How high a price are they willing to pay to avenge the blood of their compatriots? The erosion of their soul? The loss of family connection? The loss of one’s humanity?

This painful and ongoing Israeli dilemma can easily get lost in the round-the-clock media coverage of targeted bombings and terrorist checkpoints. The inner yearning to create is never as visible as the outer imperative to fight your enemies. Bombs falling make for great television.

That is why this new center of innovation is so noteworthy. It will be visible. As visible as those Patriot missiles that Israel deploys to catch incoming terrorist missiles. As visible as tank formations that enter Gaza or Lebanon.

This new center won’t be just a book in Barnes & Noble called “Start-up Nation.” It will be an enormous monument of human accomplishment, like the Statue of Liberty, with Israel’s name on it.

It will be the ultimate human response to an act of ultimate destruction. Near where the Twin Towers were destroyed, a “Silicon Island” of applied sciences will rise on Roosevelt Island that will aim even higher than those towers ever did. Here, humans won’t just trade, they will create. They won’t just build businesses, they will build solutions to better the world.

The downbeat ending of “Munich,” which keeps Israel in the stereotypical narrative of violence, revenge and continued destruction, has been jolted by this Israeli victory. Israel’s enemies won’t be able to easily “spin” this victory out of the news cycle, because it’s not an event, it’s a monument — a permanent living monument to human accomplishment that will answer the loss of 9/11 by giving continuous blessings to humanity.

The cynics will say that the world will always hate Israel no matter what. There will always be something negative to contaminate the positive. Anti-Semitism is not supposed to make sense, it’s a pathology that can never be erased, and so on.

That may all be true, but it’s no reason for the Jews to abandon their role of being a light unto the world, and to answer loss with life, and destruction with creation.

Body of Munich man found in Ecuador river


The body of a 21-year-old Jewish man from Munich was found by residents of a town along Ecuador’s Pastaza River.

Family spokesman Marc Schmerz announced the death of Jonathan Simon on Facebook Aug. 13, saying “Unfortunately we have to announce that Jonathan´s dead body was found tonight.” Rescue and recovery teams had searched for several days.

Simon, whose family lived in Munich and in Israel, reportedly fell off a footbridge while crossing the river near Devil’s Cauldron waterfall on Aug. 6. The body is to be sent to Germany.

Israeli rescue specialists had joined in the search last week, flying in with Simon’s parents.

A massive plea for help in locating Simon had been launched Aug. 9 on the Internet. The website of the Jewish community of Munich posted the announcement as well.

Thousands of people had joined the Facebook group “Missing – Jonathan Simon – Missing,” and by Sunday hundreds had responded to the news.

The website that the family set up to keep friends and family informed announced that the body of “Jonathan Noach Ben Ronit Simon” had been found.

“The purpose of human life is to serve, show compassion and the will to help others,” the family’s statement read in part. “Jonny would be astonished to see how many people—family, friends and many strangers—have come together and put their personal matters aside for this cause. You have been in the minds of thousands the last week and you will never be forgotten.”

Demjanjuk conviction hailed as long-awaited victory for justice


The guilty verdict pronounced May 12 against John Demjanjuk in a Munich courtroom was a long time coming.

Following a trial that lasted a year and a half—capping more than three decades of legal drama—the 91-year-old former Ohio autoworker is now officially recognized as a war criminal. He was found by the court to have been complicit in at least 27,900 murders at the Sobibor death camp, one of the most horrendous killing grounds in the Nazi genocide against the Jews.

The case drew the attention not only of Germans but of people around the world to events of 68 years ago. Family members of Sobibor victims, and two survivors of the camp—including Thomas Blatt, one of the rare escapees—provided riveting and emotional testimony about the suffering they had seen, as well as their lifelong anguish.

All the while Demjanjuk lay, impassively, in a hospital bed that had been brought into the courtroom, wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses.

He was sentenced to five years in prison but was released pending an appeal. In the interim, prison authorities have taken him to a nursing home.

On May 16, Munich state prosecutors appealed the court’s decision to release Demjanjuk from prison pending his appeal. They also appealed the five-year sentence for being too lenient.

Some decried Demjanjuk’s immediate release.

“It is a slap in the face of any survivor and the relatives of the victims,” Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told JTA.

Kramer went on to say, however, that the fact that he “was tried and judged and for the last days of his life is confirmed as a perpetrator” is the most important point.

“This court ruling now is a very important step in the direction of justice after more than 65 years of injustice,” he said.

The decision sent the message that “no matter how long it takes, mass murderers are accountable to justice,” said Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office.

Cornelius Nestler, the attorney for 12 Dutch plaintiffs in the case, called the conviction “a milestone in the history of prosecution of Nazi criminals.”

“It serves notice on all human rights violators that the passage of time will neither erase the world’s memory of their terrible crimes nor end its commitment to holding them to account.”

Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said “the conviction sets the precedent under which people who served where horrible crimes were committed can be prosecuted.”

But it is premature to call this the “last big Nazi trial,” as so many are doing, he added in a telephone interview from Jerusalem with JTA.

“People have been saying that for the last 24 years,” he said. “They said that about the [1992] trial of Josef Schwammberger, the first case in unified Germany … and there have been over 100 trials since then.”

The wait for justice in Demjanjuk’s case has been far longer than the duration of the trial.

Born in Ukraine, Demjanjuk immigrated to the United States after World War II. Hiding his Nazi past, he lived in suburban Cleveland starting in 1952. U.S. authorities uncovered his Nazi past in the 1970s.

Decades of legal drama ensued, including the well-publicized trial in Israel in which he was convicted in 1988 of membership in a Nazi organization and of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a notoriously brutal Treblinka guard. But the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the latter verdict in 1993 over questions about the evidence.

“There is no question there was a case of mistaken identity, so it was very good that he was not hung as ‘Ivan the Terrible,’ ” Zuroff said. “But he should [also] have been tried as another terrible Ivan—from Sobibor.”

Sobibor was constructed as an extermination camp in German-occupied Poland in 1942. By the time the camp’s operation came to a halt in November 1943, at least 167,000 Jews had been gassed with carbon monoxide, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Demjanjuk, a Soviet POW in German hands in 1942, was trained as an SS guard in the Nazi Trawniki forced labor camp in Poland. In 1943 he was sent to work at Sobibor, where he assisted in the murder of Jews, a knowing, willing accomplice in the “machinery of extermination,” Judge Ralf Alt said in his statement explaining the conviction.

The verdict came after 93 court days, elongated by monologues by Demjanjuk’s chief attorney, Ulrich Busch, who claimed his client was just as much a victim of Germany as any Jew. Busch insisted that Demjanjuk was a scapegoat who was used by German justice to cleanse its own conscience for its failure to prosecute German war criminals.

Zuroff said the fact that a Ukraine-born Nazi war criminal can be tried in Germany is something to celebrate.

“The German prosecutors changed their policy approximately three years ago, and we encouraged them to do so,” he said, noting that previously they would only prosecute individuals of German origin, with a few exceptions.

“This trial is the product of a different approach that is much more inclusive. That is the good news,” Zuroff said, adding later, “But if this had been instituted in the 1950s, the numbers of those convicted would have been higher and the punishment meted out much stronger.”

Bringing Nazi war criminals to justice remains a challenge.

On May 11, a German court decided not to extradite another accused war criminal to Holland. A court spokesperson said that Klaas Carel Faber, 88, who was convicted more than 60 years ago by a Dutch court of complicity in 22 wartime murders, would not be extradited because Faber’s consent as a German citizen was required and he refused, according to The Associated Press.

“This decision is absolutely outrageous,” Zuroff said. “It makes my blood boil.”

As for Demjanjuk, his five-year sentence likely will be reduced by the two years he has spent in jail during the trial. And his health may ultimately preclude further incarceration, if any appeals are lost, many have speculated.

But the question of “how long he is going to serve is secondary,” said Kramer. The conviction “is a very important step, but we have to admit it is not the last step.”

Nestler said his clients respected the court’s decision to release Demjanjuk pending his appeal.

“Under the rule of law,” the attorney said, “the court applied the presumption of innocence to Demjanjuk in the same way as it would to any other similarly sentenced defendant in Germany.”

ID card of Israeli athlete killed in Munich returned


The national identification card of an athlete murdered during the Munich Olympics was returned to his family.

In a ceremony Wednesday at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the ID card of wrestler Eliezer Halfin was returned to his sister, Rima Goldwasser.

Halfin was one of 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The card had been hidden for the nearly 40 years by a German police officer whose son, Holzer Tilmann, turned it over to the Israeli embassy in Germany after his father’s death.

“I call on the government of Germany to make every effort to locate other documents that are perhaps being held somewhere, because hundreds of documents are still missing. The return of these documents to the families is more than just a humane gesture; it is of historical importance for perpetuating the event and engraving it on the pages of history,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon during the ceremony.

Munich bids on Olympics as memorial fight continues


Munich, Germany has thrown its hat into the ring to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, as widows of victims of the 1972 games massacre fight for an opening ceremonies memorial.

Munich’s 2018 Winter Olympics bid committee on Tuesday handed over its bid book to officials from the International Olympic Committee. If accepted it would be the first city to host both a winter and a summer games.

Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were killed when Palestinian terrorists from the Black September group broke into their barracks in the Olympic vlllage of the Munich summer games in 1972 and held them hostage. During an unsuccessful rescue attempt, all of the hostages were killed.

The families of the athletes have tried unsuccessfully for decades to hold an opening ceremonies memorial service for the victims of the 1972 terrorist attack, but have been told by the IOC that it is not willing to mix politics and sport, or to offend delegates from the 40 Arab and Muslim countries.

President of the Israel Olympic Committee Zvi Vashaviak told the Jerusalem Post that he believes if Munich wins the games it will agree to hold the memorial ceremony.
The other two cities being considered for the 2018 games are Annecy, France and Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Planner of Munich Olympic massacre dies


A planner of the 1972 attack on Israel’s Olympic team in Munich and one of the founders of the Palestinian security services has died.

Amin al-Hindi died in a hospital in Amman on Tuesday night of liver and pancreatic cancer. He was 70.

Eleven Israeli athletes were kidnapped and later killed during the Munich Olympics, along with five Palestinians and a German policeman.

Al-Hindi was head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service and close to former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. During the 1970s he also served as a senior security officer in Fatah. He supported the peace process with Israel and the Oslo Accords after the Palestinian Authority’s founding in the 1990s.

Al-Hindi slipped into a coma following surgery last week, according to the Palestinian Envoy to Jordan. He will be buried in his native Gaza Strip.

The main architect of the massacre, Mohammed Daoud Odeh, also known as Abu Daoud, died last month at age 73.

VIDEO: Israeli Olympic athletes remembered


YouTube member JewishFan writes of his video:

Remembering the massacre, and the brutality and tactics of the Arab terrorists, is important and relevant: There are millions of radical Muslims today who, if they had the chance, would kill all the Jews and even be willing to blow themselves up to do it.

It reminds us that Israel cannot let its guard down for one moment nor can we, as Jews. There are murderers out there wanting to kill us; in fact, plotting to kill us even as this is being written.

Photo montages, vintage news footage, music (Enya.)

Munich massacre survivor still carries Olympic scars


SAN FRANCISCO (JTA)—The Munich Olympics were meant to be a defining moment in Dan Alon’s life—but not the way they turned out.

Alon was one of five Israeli athletes who escaped the 1972 massacre of Israel’s Olympic team by Palestinian terrorists.

Thirty-six years later, he still can’t shake what happened.

In Berlin last year to deliver a lecture, Alon noticed several Arabs on the staff of his hotel. He changed hotels immediately.

“I don’t feel secure,” says Alon, 63, a former Israeli fencing champion. “I have a paranoia that they are looking for me.”

In the first years after the attack, Alon says he was perpetually nervous, afraid to be left alone in a room. When he traveled abroad, he always went with someone.

For more than three decades, he barely mentioned Munich.

“I really didn’t talk about it, not even to my family or my friends,” says Alon, who recently retired as director general of an Israeli plastics company. “I tried to stay busy with my business, with my family.”

That changed two years ago with the release of Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” an epic film about the attack and Israel’s subsequent effort to hunt down those responsible.

“People started to call me and ask me questions,” Alon says.

Since then he has started writing a book about his experiences, and now he lectures at universities and in Jewish communities around the world.

On Sept. 5, 1972, at 4:30 a.m., Alon and his roommate, fellow fencer Yehudah Weinstein, were awakened by gunfire and frantic shouting. Several bullets blew through the wall over Alon’s bed. They were the shots, he says, that killed weightlifter Yossi Romano, who had been staying in the adjoining room.

Alon hurried to his window below, where he spotted a man in a white hat toting a machine gun. Several feet away, wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg lay dying on the ground.

Alon and four teammates—Weinstein, along with two marksmen and a speed walker—huddled in his room. The marksmen suggested shooting the gunman with their pellet guns.

“We decided not to do it,” Alon says. “We didn’t know how many terrorists there were, what kinds of weapons they had, what hostages they had.”

Eventually they agreed to sneak downstairs and outside as quietly as possible. One by one, treading lightly on a creaky, wooden staircase, the athletes descended the single flight of stairs, slipped through a glass door, and went over a first-floor balcony and through the garden to freedom. It took about 15 minutes.

One of the terrorists spotted them as they ran, Alon says, but he did not shoot.

Several hours later the Israelis’ teammates were dead.

“I blame the Palestinians, and I blame the Germans for the failure to [achieve the] release of the athletes,” Alon says. “But I don’t blame myself. I was only surprised that I survived.”

Four years before the attack, Alon took part in the Six-Day War as a technician securing bombs to fighter jets. Just a year after Munich, he did the same in the Yom Kippur War.

Since then he married – his wife, Adelle, is a nurse—and has had three children: Meir, 30; Pazit, 23; and Arik, 28, who has become a champion fencer.

Arik quit to attend college, Alon says, “so I quit, too. I play golf now all the time.”

After the killings in 1972, the Munich Olympics paused for a day, then resumed. Alon says it was the proper move. Not only would it have been unwise to “surrender to terror” and unfair to deny athletes the chance to compete, he says, but the world would have blamed Israel had the Games been canceled.

“For me, the Olympics are a sacred space for sportsmen,” he says. “I believe still that the Olympics are very, very good at trying to unite people around the world. Maybe we need more than one [Summer] Olympics every four years.”

Briefs: 100th birthday for Workmen’s Circle; ‘Kosher’ is numero uno


A Century of the Workmen’s Circle

Under the banner of “For a more beautiful and better world,” the Workmen’s Circle in California will mark its centennial with Yiddish songs, historical anecdotes and tributes to noted community members.

Actor and social activist Ed Asner will keynote the event on Sunday, Jan. 6, starting at 1 p.m. at the Skirball Cultural Center.

“For 100 years, our members have stood at the forefront of the movement for social justice,” said Eric A. Gordon, Southern California director of the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring.

“We founded the City of Hope to provide health care to the indigent, fought alongside farm and grocery workers for fair contracts, and today advocate for immigration, housing, and other social and political reforms that reflect our Jewish heritage of struggle for a better world.”

Gordon, who is also an author and singer, will receive the group’s Yidishkayt Award.

Entertainers will include klezmer artists Yale Strom and Elizabeth Schwartz, Uncle Ruthie Buell of KPFK-FM, troubadour Ross Altman, comedian Lou Charloff, storyteller Archie Barkan, M.C. Kolya Borodulin, and the Voices of Conscience and Mit Gezang Yiddish choruses.

Hosts Henry Slucki, Jolie Mason and Shawn Casey O’Brien of Access Unlimited, a KPFK-FM program that has advocated for the rights of people with disabilities for 20 years, will be honored with the Sands Memorial Award for Human Rights.

Other honorees include Ruth Judkowitz, chairmentsh of the regional Workmen’s Circle, who will receive the Ben Froman Member of the Year Award. Judkowitz is a professional music therapist, who founded Voices of Conscience, the organization’s social justice chorus.

For ticket information and reservations, phone (310) 552-2007, or e-mail awards@circlesocal.org.

— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

USY Builds Yeshiva for Ugandan Jews

The Conservative movement will build an adult yeshiva for the Abayudaya, a community of Jewish converts in Uganda. The $15,000 gift, announced Wednesday in Anaheim at the national convention of United Synagogue Youth, the youth arm of the Conservative movement, was presented to Gershom Sizomu, the first member of the Abayudaya community to enter rabbinical school.

A research fellow at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, Sizomu will receive his ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles in May.

The 800 members of the Abayudaya, who had been living as Jews for years, were formally converted to Judaism in 2002 by a visiting delegation of Conservative rabbis.

Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, said the gift of the yeshiva sustains the youth movement’s support of the Abayudaya Jews begun last year with a donation for a Jewish library. The library will be housed in the new yeshiva, which is expected to be completed by summer.

Four or five students will begin studying next fall, Epstein said. Other students are expected to follow, some from “lost” African Jewish communities elsewhere in Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and southern Africa.

Billionaire Leviev Leaving Israel

Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, the Uzbek-born diamond magnate and Orthodox philanthropist, is leaving Israel for London with his family, Ha’aretz and other media reported Thursday. According to the reports, Leviev, 51, expects to find better tax terms and new business opportunities in Britain. But he will maintain a home in the Jewish state, where one of his daughters will continue running his international consortium, Africa-Israel. Leviev’s personal fortune is said to be worth as much as $8 billion, making him Israel’s richest citizen.

Kosher Most Popular Claim

The kosher label beat out all claims found on food products in the United States in 2007, such as “All Natural,” the second-most frequent claim and “No Additives or Preservatives,” according to a report from Mintel’s Global New Products Database, a consumer products monitor. In 2007, companies launched 3,984 new kosher food products and 728 kosher beverages. Mintel polls have shown that Jewish and non-Jewish consumers believe a product marked kosher is healthier and safer than non-kosher products. Muslims on a Halal diet also eat kosher food, and people on lactose-free and meat-free diets tend to look for kosher certification to ensure products do not contain the things they can not eat.

Israeli Airport Profiling Reviewed

Israel is reviewing the security practice of profiling Arab passengers at its international airport. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday he was working to abolish the Shin Bet security service’s practice of singling out Israeli Arabs for more intensive screening than Jews at Ben-Gurion Airport. The announcement came in response to a petition filed with Israel’s High Court of Justice by minority rights groups arguing that all air passengers should be subject to the same level of scrutiny. Mofaz proposed that new criteria be created for vetting potentially dangerous passengers, such as age, profession and military service records. The plan will be submitted to Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz and the Shin Bet for their assessment.

Nazi HQ to be Learning Center

The Brown House in Munich, which was home to the Nazi Party beginning in 1933, will serve as a documentation center and a place of learning, according to Germany’s Deutsche Welle news service. The center was first proposed in 1989, and in 2001 the city of Munich approved a plan for the center. The project will be funded by the state of Bavaria and with $50.4 million from the German federal government. Construction will begin at the end of 2008, which is also the 850th anniversary of the city of Munich, according to Deutsche Welle. Nothing is left of the original headquarters building, which was torn down and removed by the temporary U.S. military government at the end of World War II.

Kushner’s (old) testament to Lincoln


Tony Kushner burst into the zeitgeist in the early 1990s with his operatic “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” a two-evening exploration of rage, hope and irony in the era of AIDS and Reagan Republicanism. The epic, which like all of Kushner’s work is as defined by his Judaism as by his gay identity, secured the author a Pulitzer Prize at the age of 36, even as it changed the very nature of American theater.

On Nov. 5, Kushner, 51, will appear at the Celebration of Jewish Books at American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism); there he can be expected to talk not just about his plays, which depict the collision of powerful societal forces and the anxiety of turbulent change, but also about the intersection of life and art.

Kushner’s eerily prescient “Homebody/Kabul” spotlights tension between Afghanistan and the West (the play was completed months before Sept. 11, 2001); his translation and adaptation of Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children” highlights the “terrible price” paid by those who live off of war, and his musical, “Caroline, or Change,” was inspired by his own upbringing in small-town Louisiana on the eve of the civil rights movement.

Kushner’s debut feature film screenplay, Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” portrayed conflicted Mossad agents on a mission to assassinate the terrorists of the 1972 Munich Olympics, prompting critics to call him anti-Israel and a self-hating Jew. He replied with a wickedly funny but ultimately serious editorial titled, “Defending ‘Munich’ to my Mishpocheh.”

Kushner is now writing the script for a Spielberg Abraham Lincoln bio-pic, slated for a 2009 release. He is also awaiting the PBS premiere of “Wrestling With Angels,” Freida Lee Mock’s documentary about the playwright’s life, which will air on KCET on Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. He spoke to The Journal by phone from Manhattan.

Jewish Journal: On the one hand, Lincoln and the Civil War seems like a perfect Tony Kushner subject, in that it focuses on a time of drastic upheaval. But much of your previous work has been inspired by your Jewish consciousness — where’s the connection here?

Tony Kushner: Just as is the case with a figure like Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, Lincoln and the abolitionists were Christian but they feel Jewish to me, in a sense. Much of the religious rhetoric of the 19th century, especially around the war, draws heavily from the Holy Scriptures and not so much from the New Testament. So you have Lincoln very rarely citing Christ and often speaking from the Proverbs and Psalms and Isaiah. In a certain sense, his thinking and his ethical deliberation seem very talmudic. The Talmud is really a lot of people very carefully poring over text and trying to come to a way of making scripture, which is poetry, commensurable with ethical thinking, which is a kind of logical thinking, and Lincoln was profoundly logical. He was also a person with great sorrow, someone who understood suffering in a very direct way, and you can’t really understand Jewish history if you don’t understand suffering and sorrow. He wasn’t someone who knew a lot of black people, or who had a close, deep feeling necessarily for slaves on a personal level, but he could connect with their suffering.

JJ: More books have been written on Lincoln than perhaps any other person except Jesus Christ — it must be a daunting project.

TK: The big problem with the subject is that it’s so vast, and that Lincoln is an inexhaustibly interesting person in the middle of probably the most significant years of American history ever. Our country had been struggling with the great contradiction that had existed from the beginning: namely that we were a democracy in which all men were created equal, and yet in which slavery was permitted. This contradiction was repeatedly sidestepped until the tension just got too great and there was an explosion — the Civil War — which was this astonishing revolution, very bloody and very costly in terms of human life. And this revolution ended the feudal system of slavery, and the sort of nauseating romance of the Old South, and it was the last moment when it was plausible to consider oneself as being in any way part of the modern world and openly endorsing human slavery. And in my reading of Lincoln’s life, he perfectly understood the nature of transformation in a democratic society, and the incredibly tricky balancing act required by its leaders. You cannot do more in a democratic society than people are willing to do, and yet you can’t use that difficulty as an excuse for avoiding ethical leadership.

JJ: You’ve called Lincoln the greatest democratic leader in the history of the world.

TK: I don’t know of any greater. And the scary thing about Lincoln is that when you ask what makes him so great, the answer is, on one level, I have no idea; I don’t understand what he did any more than I understand how Shakespeare wrote ‘Hamlet’ or Mozart wrote ‘Cosi fan tutti.’

JJ: Many people wonder how you wrote ‘Angels in America.’

TK: That’s sweet of you to say, but ‘Angels in America’ is incredibly “small potatoes” when we’re talking about something like Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. Not only was he a great political leader and a pretty good military strategist, he was a writer comparable to the greatest American writers of the 19th century — I’m talking about Hawthorne and Whitman and Dickinson and Melville.

JJ: Lincoln was called on to defend the Jews at one point.

TK: There was that infamous incident where Ulysses S. Grant, who was freaked out about black market cotton trading in the Mississippi Valley, decided to throw all the Jews out of Tennessee because he felt that Jewish peddlers were behind a lot of the trading. And a group of Jewish leaders in Washington went to Lincoln and said, ‘Obviously, you can’t do this.’ And they had a very funny exchange where they sort of swapped proverbs and Lincoln of course immediately contacted Grant, who backed off immediately.