The London Olympics will be kicking off later this week and the world is excited to watch the world’s top athletes compete for gold. These particular Olympic games are also marred by a black shadow, the 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympics in 1972.

On September 5th, 1972 at 4:10am, 8 Palestinian terrorists representing the group Black September broke into the Olympic village and took 11 Israeli Olympians hostage. 2 Olympians were killed in the dormitories for trying to resist. The remaining 9 were killed in a poor rescue attempt at Furstenfeldbruck airfield.

The motion to hold a moment of silence at the London Olympics in honor of the 40th anniversary of this tragedy has been much debated. Though international support is growing, the IOC has yet to agree. Israel, as she has done at every Olympic Games, held a private ceremony to remember our fallen athletes.

At this time I would like to take a moment to remember these people:

  • Moshe Weinberg – Wrestling Coach
  • Yossef Romano – Weightlifter
  • Ze’ev Friedman – Weightlifter
  • David Berger – Weightlifter
  • Yakov Springer – Wightlifting Judge
  • Eliezer Halfin – Wrestler
  • Yossef Gutfreund – Wrestling referee
  • Kehat Shorr – Shooting Coach
  • Mark Slavin – Wrestler
  • Andre Spitzer – Fencing Coach
  • Amitzur Shapira – Track Coach

This tragedy is too horrible for words. The Olympic Games have always been a beacon of hope for peace and cooperation. Athletes comes from all over the world, politics aside, to participate in healthy competition. It is sad that such triumphs as Mark Spitz’s 7 gold medals is overshadowed by the death of these men.

In 1972, a dear friend trained as a competitive runner. Amitzur Shapira was her track coach as she trained at the Wingate Institute in Israel. Shortly before the ’72 Olympics, she received a postcard from him, inviting her to join the national youth team for runners. He never returned to continue her training and now, in her late 50’s she still carries this postcard with her.

40 years later, we remember these great men for who they were and what they stood for. We send our Israeli athletes to London hoping to continue the Israeli streak of bringing home medals from every Olympic Games since 1992. And most of all, we carry hope that the world will evolve and we can enjoy peace, and never have to worry about such a tragedy happening again.

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