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Our Moment for Munich

Tablet will go dark at noon on Friday; we invite you to join us.

Adam Chandler
July 24, 2012

This Friday, Tablet will commemorate the 1972 tragedy by going dark starting at noon and lasting for several minutes. During that time, Tablet will ask our readers to join us in paying tribute to the memories of those killed in Munich.

As readers know, Deborah Lipstadt wrote a powerful piece on the refusal by the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence during the Olympic Opening Ceremony despite an Israeli request. Sadly, the only official act has been a hastily assembled moment of silence in London yesterday, which understandably underwhelmed and insulted an already skeptical Israeli and Jewish public.

The ersatz event–“a spontaneous suggestion” in the words of IOC President Jacques Rogge–took place seemingly without the knowledge of anyone, least of all the families of the murdered Israeli athletes and coaches. With London Mayor Boris Johnson and a few other IOC officials present, Rogge made a few brief remarks on Monday in the Olympic Village and then held a moment of silence.

Ankie Spitzer, the widow of murdered Israeli fencing coach Andre Spitzer, said this about the IOC event:

“This is not the right solution, to hold some ceremony in front of 30 or 40 people. We asked for a moment of silence at the opening ceremony not for someone to mumble something in front of a few dozen people.”

Spitzer, along with Ilana Romano, the widow of murdered Israeli weightlifter Yossef Romano, saw the move as a means to preempt a press conference the two will hold tomorrow in London to restate their demands that the IOC honor the victims of the Munich massacre with a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies on Friday. If so, this act wasn’t just weak, it was a calculated (and craven) deflection.

We hope that the IOC will change its mind before Friday, preempting the need for such a small gesture. If it does not–as it increasingly looks–we hope you will join us.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.