It wasn't the Israelis that brought politics to the Olympic Games; it was the terror thugs of the PLO who in 1972 slaughtered 11 members of Israel's Olympic team. It certainly wasn't a decision that lay in the hands of the International Olympic Committee President at the time, although his successor Jacques Rogge has taken it upon himself to resolve that the commemoration of the victims is not befitting of the Olympic Games opening ceremony.
Rogge's claim that his rationale is because, "We feel the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident," is simply drivel. A number of other tragedies have been commemorated at past opening ceremonies, including at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics where the victims of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks were remembered. At the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics a moment of silence was held for the victims of the Siege of Sarajevo, and at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics the same was observed to commemorate Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili who died in a tragic training accident.
The truth of the matter is simple; the IOC fears an Arab boycott in the event that it would go ahead with the memorial ceremony. As The Algemeiner reported, "According to an interview given by Thomas Bach, the Vice President of the IOC, the threats to boycott the opening ceremony made by Arab states in the event of an official minute of silence, have led the IOC to mark the 40 year anniversary in other ways."
In an article preceding the 2002 Olympic Games the LA Times wrote, "Over the years, according to confidential minutes from IOC executive board meetings obtained by the Times, senior IOC delegates have made it plain they do not want to risk causing offense to Arab interests."
The Times adds, "Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait, an IOC member since 1992, heads the influential Olympic Council of Asia; it is widely believed he played a significant behind-the-scenes role last year in helping secure Rogge's election as IOC president."
Simply, the IOC is faced with a choice that pits morals against interests and the IOC has issued a resounding rejection of the moral choice.
It is for precisely this reason that the Minute of Silence Campaign is essentially important to Israel and all Jews, because contained within its outcome lies the answer to a fundamental question that carries broad relevance, asked by Israel supporters around the world: If our only hope is to appeal to the moral conscience of humankind, then what hope have we?
What greater appeal of conscience can there be than that which was prompted by the campaign of Ankie Spitzer, the widow of slain Israeli fencing coach Andre Spitzer. Her efforts brought together the voices of a U.S. President, a Presidential Candidate, The United States Senate, The German Bundestag, members of the Canadian and Australian parliaments, about 50 members of the British Parliament, close to 140 members of Italy's parliament, and more than 111,000 signatures on a change.org petition from concerned citizens around the world.
But for the IOC the decision was clear, as is often the case when a moral plea is faced with a threat against interests. The IOC has little to lose in denying the request of an Israeli widow.
For Israel, the simple lesson is that morality rarely trumps interests, and supporters of Israeli causes must be sure to keep this in mind if they wish to launch effective campaigns.
In this case, in order to help the IOC make the correct decision, the petitions supporting a minute's silence should be directed towards the sponsors of the games. Companies that include Coca-Cola, Acer, McDonalds, GE, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung, BMW, UPS, BP and Visa should be asked to withdraw their support from the morally corrupt enterprise. Today, Olympic partnership is among the most highly sought after advertising associations and is perceived as a badge of honor. However, a concerted effort could bring to the fore the more appropriate association of shame.
If this campaign was successful, then perhaps Mr. Rogge would reconsider and the IOC could be prompted to call the Arabs' bluff. The announcement that a minute of silence will be held would force the Arab countries to either observe the moment in concert with the world's civilized nations or display their bare-faced racism to all.
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