Munich 1972, London 2012

A letter to The Globe and Mail (not published)

American exceptionalism permitted a commemoration of 9/11 at the 2002 Salt Lake City games because, well, America is exceptional (letter–July 25). But there will be no comparable commemoration in London of the 40th anniversary of the massacre in Munich of Israeli athletes because, well, Israel is exceptional, but not as exceptional as the U.S. The Israeli athletes were killed in Munich in 1972 by Palestinians, angered at their dispossession and occupation by Israel. I do not justify what they did, and I grieve with those who continue to grieve the murder of the Israeli athletes as well as with the Palestinians who continue to grieve the loss of their homeland.

At the same time, the discussions around how to commemorate Munich in 2012 serve to remind us that the issue which motivated those angry Palestinians in 1972 has still not been resolved 40 years later. This being so, I would favour a commemoration of the Munich massacre at the opening ceremony in London.

One small step ahead: five Palestinian athletes will compete in London. But not until all the other steps have been taken to bring about the moment when justice has been done for Palestine will there be security for Israel, after which both sides will be able to grieve together as part of living together in peace. One  shining example of how this is already happening is the Bereaved Parents’ Circle, which brings together the parents of Israeli and Palestinian children killed in the conflict. “The journey of ten thousand miles ….”

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3 Responses to Munich 1972, London 2012

  1. newzionism says:

    Why should we commemorate this atrocity only ? Should we not then also commemorate the thousands killed by Israeli violence ? Sabra and Chatilla was a much worse atrocity than Munich surely.

  2. Absolutely true. However, the public attention to the Munich massacre is a reminder to the public that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still not resolved, 40 years later. Anything which reminds the public of this is useful, in my view.

  3. newzionism says:

    I think the minute’s silence for ALL victims of violence at the Olympic opening was entirely appropriate. I admired the Olympic committee for standing up to the huge pressure for a remembrance of the Israelis alone. (They did do a Munich remembrance but elsewhere.) I think it is dangerous to single out acts of violence against Israelis. This merely feeds into what seems to be an overwhelming sense of Jewish victimhood which I think has proven very dangerous in Palestine. People who think of themselves as perpetual victims are not able to take responsibility for their own actions. They always blame others. This has led to an enormous amount of denial of the injustices being meted out daily to Palestinians. I have found the current use of the term anti-semitism feeds into this illusion. Any criticism of Israel is deemed to be anti-semitism which enables Jews to ignore the reality which prompts the criticism. I have never experienced racism so extreme or so systemic as that which I encountered in Israel and Palestine against Arabs and Muslims.

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