Memorial ceremony for 11 athletes killed at 1972 Munich Olympics
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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 Memorial ceremony for 11 athletes killed at 1972 Munich Olympics

8/6/2012

Representing the Government of Israel, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat spoke at the memorial ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes killed in the 1972 Munich massacre: "For us, the memory of our athletes slain in Munich by Palestinian terrorists, is forever etched in our collective soul."

 
Members of the Israeli Olympic team attend memorial (Photo: Reuters)

Representing the Government of Israel, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat spoke at the memorial ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes killed in the 1972 Munich massacre.
 
Prime Minister David Cameron, 
Distinguished guests,
Family members of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes.
 
We are gathered here this evening to honor our eleven fallen heroes. Fathers, husbands, brothers, sons. Sons of our nation. Olympic sons. For us, the memory of our athletes slain in Munich by Palestinian terrorists, is forever etched in our collective soul. For us, our national soul is something we each take personally.

King Solomon ruled in Israel's capital city, Jerusalem, around the same time the first Olympic Games were first held in ancient Greece. In his wisdom he said: "There is a time for everything under the heavens."

And allow me to paraphrase: There is a time to speak out, and there is a time to be silent.

On the 17th of June, 2012, the German magazine, Der Spiegel, reported that German Neo-Nazis were accomplices to the Munich massacre of 1972. The report documents how the Palestinian terrorists of "Black September" enjoyed logistical support from local Neo-Nazis.

This comes as no surprise. There is a line to be drawn from Auschwitz to Munich, and from Munich to Burgas, where Israeli tourists were murdered by terrorists just three weeks ago. It is the murder of Jews simply because they are Jews. Jewish athletes, Jewish tourists, and just plain Jews.

There is a difference though. The intention of the murderers is the same, but the status of the victims has changed.

In 1942 there was no Jewish state, and European Jewry was annihilated. It was a time to speak out, but the world was silent. In 1972 there was a Jewish state, a state which held the murderers accountable and insisted that justice be done. And 40 years later, in 2012, the perpetrators of the Burgas terrorist attack will not escape justice, because in the face of terror, it is never time to be silent.

Silence in the face of evil - affords evil victory. And lack of silence for the victims of evil - affords evil a moral victory.

When the Olympic Games were first held in ancient Greece, the Greek city-states, were more often than not, at war. In order for the games to go on, a "Sacred Truce" was adopted by all warring parties, so that the games could continue in peace, and the crowds could travel safely.

The murderers of our athletes at Munich did not understand what the Greeks understood two and a half millenis ago. The fire of the Olympic torch, is intended to illuminate, not to consume. The Olympics come to advance human achievement  -  terrorism comes to negate it. The Olympic spirit comes to celebrate human life  -  terrorism comes to celebrate death.

Those who called on the IOC to hold an official and public moment of silence to honor the memory of Israel's slain athletes understand this: President Obama and the United States Senate, the parliaments of Germany, Australia and Canada, understand. Regrettably, their pleas were rejected.

For that reason, during the speeches at the opening ceremony, I insisted on my own moment of silence. But I was not alone. Millions, all over the world, lovers of sports and lovers of humanity, were with me in silent awe. In my silence, I spoke for them.

In deafening silence, we unite with the memory of our eleven athletes. They passed us a torch, and with a heavy but confident heart, we pledge to carry the torch forward. And the time for that, is now, and forever.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron: "This evening we mark the 40th anniversary of one of the darkest days in the history of the Olympic Games. A sickening act of terrorism that betrayed everything the Olympic movement stands for and everything that we in Britain believe in.

As the world comes together in London to celebrate the Games and the values it represents, it is right that we should stop and remember the 11 Israeli athletes who so tragically lost their lives when those values came under attack in Munich 40 years ago."

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German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle: "40 years ago, deadly terror struck the Olympic Games in my country. The images of Munich 1972 are burned into the German collective memory. The victims of the heinous attack in Munich deserve a dignified memory. Our words and our silence belong to them.

I assure you that Germany has not forgotten. Germany looks back in mourning. We can't bring the dead back to life, but it is our duty to honor their memory."

 
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