Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Olympics - A Moment of Silence

I have to disagree. Rabbi Yaakov Salomon has said that there ought to be a moment of silence at the Olympic Games to be held in England later this summer in memory of the slain Israeli athletes in Munich 40 years ago.

I will never forget watching that scene of that particular Olympics. Palestinian terrorists managed to infiltrate the olympic village and massacre 11 members of the Israeli olympic team. It shocked the world. If memory serves it was the first time Palestinian terrorism was put into such stark relief and broadcast to the entire world. The world was indeed shocked.  Jim McKay’s poignant reporting of the events as they happened was certainly one of the most riveting accounts imaginable of a such an event ever broadcast on live television to that date. Since that time I do not recall any event remotely like that until the events of 9/11.

It was shocking. It was tragic. And it was (or should have been) a wake up call to the world about a new era of murderous violence perpetrated against innocent civilians for a ‘cause’. What followed in its wake was 4 decades of suicide bombers in Israel and elsewhere culminating in the worst terrorist attack in American history where 2 aircraft were hijacked by terrorists and flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

The question is - should there be a moment of silence at the Summer Olympics this year to commemorate that day. Perhaps. It would have been a nice gesture on the part of the Olympic Committee to do something like that. I’m not sure why they chose not to. But it is really up to them.

One of the regular features at Aish.com is a 2 or 3 minute video by Rabbi Salomon expressing his views on various Jewish issues of the day. This one is about the fact that the Olympic Committee has denied a request by Israel to have a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies. He is publicly protesting it.  Of course he has every right to do that. But I do not agree with him. Nor do I think it was in any way appropriate (lacking any evidence for it) to suggest that there may have been anti-Semitism involved in their decision.  

There is also a link to a petition by Mrs. Andrei Spitzer, the wife of one of the slain Israeli athletes asking the Olympic Committee for that moment. I assume Rabbi Salomon thinks we should sign it. I am not going to. Although I have tremendous sympathy for Mrs. Spitzer, I do not agree that we should be insinuating ourselves into the Olympics opening ceremony… even for something as meaningful as this may be to us. The Olympics is not a Jewish event. We should not be trying to make them pay more attention to us than they do to anyone else.

By publicly putting pressure on them it can send the wrong message. One that is not intended. It will reinforce a negative stereotype about us that all we care about is ourselves. While that is not true - pushing our agenda onto them even for just one minute of silence - will make it seem so. I do not see the value of doing this at all. Had they done so on their own, it would have been a nice gesture. But they didn’t. In my view we ought to leave it alone and not draw this kind of attention to ourselves. We gain nothing by it.

One more thing. We lose credibility every time we use anti-Semitism to make our case. Unless there is evidence of it, that kind of thing ought to stop.