Rep. Steve Israel Wants Munich Victims Honored At London Olympics
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Some members of Congress, including several from New York, want the International Olympic Committee to honor the Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed at the Munich games in 1972.
Among them, is Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and WCBS 880’s Steve Scott spoke to him for Thursday’s Eye on Politics segment.
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SS: Congressman, you and some of your fellow Representatives held a moment of silence on the House floor today.
SI: We did. Today, I led a bipartisan moment of silence. We had 17 of my colleagues from throughout the country, who held a moment of silence to commemorate the murders of 11 Israelis at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago. I’m sorry to say that we had that moment of silence in Washington, D.C. because the International Olympic Committee has refused to have a moment of silence at the Olympics in London. We’ve asked them on a bipartisan basis. All we’re asking for is one minute, just one minute. And they’ve rejected our request.
SS: Have you heard yet a good explanation from the IOC as to why they won’t take one minute in the Opening Ceremonies to honor the Munich victims?
SI: We have asked the IOC in letters. We asked them by introducing a bipartisan act of Congress for an explanation. They refused to give us any explanation other than they will not honor our request. And quite honestly, I think by not honoring our request, the IOC is sweeping the memory of the murdered Israelis under a rug.
SS: Congressman, I’ll ask bluntly. Would you go so far as to say anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head here?
SI: I would go so far as to say hypocrisy and a double standard is rearing its head. I hate to say this, but there’s something in me that suggests that if the athletes were any other athletes but Israeli, the IOC may have reached a different conclusion. It pains me to say that, I’m a fan of the Olympics, a supporter of the Olympics. I want to be able to watch the Olympics. It pains me to have to say that the IOC has decided, without any reasonable explanation, in fact with no explanation, simply to reject our request for just 60 seconds to commemorate what happened 40 years ago.
SS: Again, would you call this anti-Semitism, sir?
SI: I don’t like to easily subscribe anti-semitic motives to people or to decisions. I think that question is best left to the members of the IOC. I do think it is against the memory of those who were killed and against the wishes of people who believe that the Olympics should just take 60 seconds, at least 60 seconds, in a moment of silence to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.
SS: The Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow in London. Is it too late at this point?
SI: It’s never too late. And in fact if logistically the International Olympic Committee believes that it’s too late to do it at the Opening Ceremonies, we’ll be patient. We’ll suggest they do it at the closing ceremonies, or sometime in between. This happened 40 years ago. If you’re Jewish, you don’t even have to be Jewish, but if you know the experience of the Jewish people you know the saying ‘never forget’. We will not allow the Olympic Committee to forget the memory of these eleven Israeli athletes. If we have to wait until the Closing Ceremonies, we’ll wait.
Also supporting the movement to have the victims honored this year are Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison), and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld).
Do you think the London Olympics should honor the victims of the Munich Massacre? Sound off in the comments section below.