Aly Raisman, the Jewish-American gymnast who won two gold medals in London, honored the massacred Israelis from the 1972 Munich Olympics when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would not, saying, “If there had been a moment’s silence,” Raisman said, ” I would have supported it and respected it.” The London Games mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre, and there were numerous calls for a moment’s silence.
Not only did Raisman support the effort to commemorate the slain Israeli athletes, but the music for her floor exercise, for which she won the gold medal, was the famous Israeli song “Hava Nagila.”
In your face, IOC.
IOC President Jacques Rogge, who draped himself in a Palestinian flag in 2010, refused to let the Olympics have a moment of silence for the Israelis. In contrast, the Italian athletes at the Games joined with a number of Israeli representatives inside the Olympic Village to observe a moment of silence, and Fabien Gilot, a French swimmer whose grandfather was a survivor of Auschwitz, had a tattoo in Hebrew on his arm reading אני כלום בלעדיהם, meaning, “I am nothing without them.”
It was revealed by ESPN that Arab delegations have threatened a walkout if the IOC ever honors the Israeli dead; ESPN.com reported that confidential IOC minutes from a meeting before the 2000 Sydney Olympics suggested that the organization had received “threatening letters on the issue from several different Arab Olympic committees.”
Rogge’s actions were lauded by the Palestinians, who thanked the International Olympic Committee for refusing to hold a minute of silence at the opening ceremony in London. Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Federation, sent a letter to IOC chairman Jacques Rogge to thank him personally.
Of course, the IOC has offered a moment of silence for other tragedies before. In the 1984 Winter Games there was a moment’s silence for Sarajevo; in 1996, a moment of silence for the Centennial Park bombing; and most movingly for Americans (and thanks to Mitt Romney) the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics featured a tattered American flag from the ruins of 9/11 carried around the stadium, then raised as the U.S. Flag.
Raisman’s ancestors must be very proud of her.