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One Minute for Munich

Last week’s terror attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, when five innocent Israeli citizens were killed in a bomb blast, couldn’t have come at a more sensitive time for Israelis and Jews around the world. 

The London 2012 Olympics mark the milestone 40th anniversary of the terrible day in September 1972, when at the Munich Olympics eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage, and as the world watched in horror, were brutally murdered by terrorists. For Jews around the world, the events of last week, with the attack on Israelis enjoying the start of their summer holiday in Bulgaria, brought into sharp focus the ever present threat to Israelis and Jews worldwide, making commemoration of the massacre in 1972 ever more relevant.

This is the not the first  time that controversy has surrounded the Olympics. In 1936 Nazi Germany hosted the Summer Olympics. Playing down its antisemitic agenda, the regime used the Games to dazzle foreign spectators and journalists with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany.

Refusing to boycott the Berlin Olympics, the United States and other western democracies missed the opportunity to take a stand that might have made Hitler pause and could have bolstered international resistance to Nazi tyranny.

The widows of two of the Israeli victims of the 1972 massacre have travelled  to London this week in a last ditch effort to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the world has to mark and remember the early deaths of their loved ones. 

For them it is a very personal loss, a raw wound that can never be healed but nevertheless deserves acknowledgement. It is now time for the IOC and world leaders to make amends and take a public stand against terrorism. In the name of humanity the world needs to stand together in silence for one minute only, to reflect on how terror destroys lives and communities and is the enemy of peace. The events of 1972, which for a new generation is merely a date in history, must never happen again. 

Only today I read in The Times that the IOC is on high alert against a terror attack on the current Israeli team. In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. 

A minute of silence on Friday 27th July 2012, at the opening of the Olympics, is just the reminder we need.