TEL AVIV – Speaking in Germany at an inauguration event for a long-awaited memorial to the 1972 Munich massacre, President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday slammed the Palestinian Authority for continuing to glorify the Black September Palestinian terrorists who murdered 11 Israeli athletes during the Olympics that year.
“There are still those who see in the murder of sportsmen a heroic deed,” Rivlin said.
“Just last year, Fatah marked the massacre of the sportsmen as an ‘act of heroism,’” he added, referring to the party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Breitbart Jerusalem has extensively covered the PA’s lauding of the Olympic terror attack. Less than a month after Fatah praised the massacre as “heroic,” a West Bank school was named after Salah Khalaf, Fatah’s founder and the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Black September terror group responsible for the attack.
Issam Abu Bakr, the District Governor of the school’s surrounding area, defended the decision to name a school after an arch-terrorist, saying, “the occupation [i.e., Israel] is deluded if it thinks that the Palestinian people can change its culture and forget its leaders and martyrs.”
“Salah Khalaf and a great number of the fighters who sacrificed their blood for the freedom, independence and establishment of the independent Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem,” he added.
Fatah marked the anniversary of the attack by saying “it would be remembered and recorded in history” books since it “demonstrated the meaning of the courage and power of the Palestinian resistance fighter and his self-sacrifice for the homeland and for the cause.”
The school was the fourth to be named after Khalaf; the other three are in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
On Wednesday, Rivlin was joined by his German counterpart President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Bavaria’s Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, and relatives of the victims at the inauguration event.
“The center we are inaugurating today must be a message to the whole world: There can be no apologizing for terrorism. Terror must be unequivocally condemned everywhere. In Barcelona, in London, in Paris, in Berlin, in Jerusalem and everywhere else,” Rivlin said.
He continued by noting that it took 45 years to establish a memorial and wondered how long it would take for the Olympic Committee to recognize the dead as well by conceding to Israel’s long sought moment of silence at the opening ceremony of future Olympic Games.
“Our brothers who were murdered were not just the State of Israel’s sons,” Rivlin said. “They were the Olympic family’s sons. A family which for many years abandoned its commitment to them.
“’The games must go on’ — so said at the time the President of the Olympic Committee, in a sentence which will be remembered eternally as a disgrace,” he noted.
“For 45 years – almost half a century – the victims’ families, and the State of Israel looked expectantly for this moment: the inauguration of a center of remembrance and a memorial in the Olympic Village.”
Steinmeier admitted in his own speech that his country was totally unprepared for the attack, in which eight Black September members simply strolled through the Olympic village, burst into the building where the Israeli team was staying and took the athletes hostage before murdering them.
“It should have never been allowed to happen,” he said. “Until today, we carry a heavy burden regarding this catastrophe. And this better recognition is part of the commemoration of this day — and I think it’s overdue, and we owe it you, dear family members.”
“In Germany, our way of life includes inseparably a commitment to our history, a commitment to the history of the Holocaust, the responsibility for Israel’s security that grows out of it, and the rejection of any form of anti-Semitism,” he added.
After Wednesday’s ceremony, Rivlin spoke with the relatives of the athletes, and thanked them for campaigning for such a memorial for so many decades.
“If I were elected president only to be here with you today, I would have been fortunate,” he told them.
The victims then addressed both presidents directly.
Ilana Romano, widow of victim Yossef Romano, said: “The disaster changed the lives of 11 families. Among them grew 14 orphans, who have grown into role models and we are so proud of them. We have Holocaust survivors whose lives were shattered, and a child whose dream to be an athlete was destroyed.” She told the presidents of Israel and Germany, “We are so moved by your presence here. We feel at home, after many years of walking around Munich, we feel safe.”
Yossef’s brother Herzl said, “I remember the euphoria before the flight. Yossi sent us a tape he recorded and told of the Olympic spirit with athletes from all over the world. The terrorists struck at that same spirit that we teach today, the spirit of the Olympics. Such a spirit must be universal. We hope and are expectant that one day at the Olympic Ceremony the world will stand in a minute’s silence in memory of the athletes who were murdered.”
Ankie Spitzer, who was 26 years old when she was widowed by the death of her husband, the coach and fencing master Andre, added, “This a dream which has been realized. We still hope the International Olympic Committee will say, come let’s remember what happened in Munich. We will persevere and say, if you believe in something and know the justness of your path, don’t ever give up. We are so pleased to see this come to be.”
The Palestinian leadership’s praise of the Munich murders came only two months after the International Olympic Committee finally paid tribute to the victims and their families with an official ceremony at the Rio Olympics.