A minute of ambivalence

I am ambivalent about many things, it saves having to decide and actually act. Maybe its a sign of age, I mean maturity, and wisdom. But, I am especially ambivalent about this minute of silence at the Olympic Games opening ceremony. Let’s face it, the International Olympics Committee was anti-Semitic through most of its history and probably still is. The originator of the modern Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertain, while espousing international cooperation, made no secret of his distaste for Jews. It was the default fashionable belief then.

Certainly we should remember the 11 athletes who were killed as a result of a hostage situation at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago. And we do that every time there is an Olympics, but it becomes too much. It was the incompetence of the German security forces and the refusal of the German Government to allow IDF forces to participate that really led to the deaths of the Israeli athletes. I don’t like to stress our victimhood, let us rather remember our victories. I doubt that many in the stadium, the competitors and those watching at home will appreciate a one-minute silence gesture, I think it only demeans the sacrifice and honor of those killed that we have to forcefully persuade them to allow it. What do we really gain by shoving it down their throats when they aren’t sympathetic? I think the separate ceremony held by Jacques Rugge, the President of the IOC at the London Olympic Park would have been perfect had it been coordinated with Israeli and Jewish organizations beforehand, rather than being put on as a quick means to outflank the “one minute of silence” movement. Its like the UN, to expect more is pointless.

What would be more appropriate is if the IOC established a living memorial to the 11 murdered athletes, such as a scholarship program in athletics for underprivileged children in poorer countries that should include Israeli participation. But, the IOC are dominated by Arab, Muslim and liberal views that want to have nothing to do with Israel. The fact is that when the Israeli athletes went to compete in Munich they were there at the request of the IOC and were in effect under its jurisdiction. The IOC should react as if their own members had been killed, not alien Israeli athletes. But , that its the way the world is and emphasizing it does not do any good. Let’s get on with making sure that such a tragedy never occurs again, which means beefing up security, being concerned for the potential defense and escape routes of Israeli athletes and making sure that security forces are trained for all eventualities.That seems to be what the British are doing and we hope it produces a peaceful, safe and secure Games.

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.