This article was adapted from a speech delivered by the UJIA chairman at
Monday’s official commemoration of the Munich terror attack.
was held in London’s Guildhall with some 500 guests including Prime Minister
David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, opposition leader Ed Miliband,
IOC President Jacques Rogge, Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat and key
Israeli Olympic officials.
We – British citizens, Israelis, Jews and all
people of conscience – are here this evening to honor the memory of the
To remember their names, to remember their faces.
share the pain and anguish of their families, and to demand that those in a
position and with the authority to do so take the responsibility that only they
can: to acknowledge, in the official Olympic program, unambiguously and publicly
the murderous terrorist attack that was perpetrated against the 11 Israeli
Olympians and to remember.
What happened on the 4th and 5th of September,
1972, was in the words of the late King Hussein of Jordan “a savage crime
Young men and women gather every four years in
peace, as it was in ancient Greece when conflict was set aside, to celebrate
Man’s innate ability to excel in harmonious competition. In 1972 for those awful
few hours the ideals and values of the Olympic movement suffered and died with
the 11 Israeli Olympians. A shadow fell across the Olympic family then, but now
it hangs ever darker over the International Olympic Committee.
Rogge, on behalf of the British Jewish community, supported by the political
leadership of this great country, we say to the IOC that to be silent is to be
complicit and that we cannot understand why the IOC resolutely refuses to do
what is right.
Mr. Rogge, as president of the IOC, you have chosen to be
here tonight. Your presence is itself an important personal statement to your
colleagues at the IOC. And you have done much more than your
predecessors. But, Mr. Rogge, it is not enough.
I once heard Elie
Wiesel say that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is
We are assembled here this evening because we are not
indifferent. We are not indifferent to the terrible events of Munich 40 years
And no matter the passing of time, we lament and deplore the
silence, and the apparent indifference of others.
Jewish history has
taught us that to remember requires a positive act. That same history has also
taught us that to fail to remember is to be complicit. To fail to remember is to
Whilst no one can undo the tragedy of Munich, surely it is
your obligation now, the duty of the entire Olympic movement which you
represent, to end the pain and injustice that the IOC’s official silence has
meant for the memory of the victims and their families.
If the notion of
the Olympic ideal is to retain its meaning and its value, the IOC as the
custodian of that ideal must not remain silent. You must not be
As has been said this evening, it is never too late to do the
right thing. With the eyes of the world on London, that time is
Let not your legacy be one of silence and complicity but rather one
of action, one of responsibility, one of leadership, one of
And above all, let not your legacy be one of indifference,
but rather one of love.
The writer is chairman of the United Jewish
Israel Appeal (UJIA) in Britain.