Germany sets a moral example. (Colin Smith/Creative Commons)
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Germany Calls for Memorial at Olympics

A minute of silence to commemorate Munich victims

Yair Rosenberg
June 28, 2012
Germany sets a moral example. (Colin Smith/Creative Commons)

Germany is taking a lot of flack for its regional court’s decision to ban circumcision. But it’s important not to let the isolated action of a single court–one which will likely be reversed by a higher court or by mortified politicians–overshadow the country’s significant philo-semitic efforts, like its steadfast support for Israel. Another such example was reported last night, when the Times of Israel published excerpts of a letter by Germany’s foreign minister to the International Olympic Committee in support of a minute of silence to commemorate the slain Israeli athletes of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre.

“This tragic terrorist attack in my country was directed not only at the Israeli Olympic team,” wrote Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, “it was also an attack on the Olympic Games and the Olympic idea of promoting peace and friendship among the nations.” He dubbed the proposal of a minute of silence–supported by Israel, a unanimous US Senate, the Canadian House of Commons and the entire Australian parliament–“a humanitarian gesture and a fitting way to send the message that violence and terror are incompatible with the Olympic idea.”

Of course, so far the IOC continues to resist this call to common sense. Their refusal to commemorate the murdered Israelis athletes is not only in conflict with the raison d’etre of the Games but also its own previous actions: The IOC has recently allowed or run memorials for athletes who died in training and for the victims of 9/11. Yet Jewish competitors brutally slain at the Games themselves are deemed unworthy of such token acknowledgement.

Apparently, this summer’s Olympic slogan of “Inspire a Generation” does not mean doing so by moral example. For that, we can look instead to countries like Germany.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.