Community leaders gathered at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum today to observe a moment of silence for the 11 Israelis killed during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. The leaders also denounced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its refusal to hold a similar commemoration during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympic Games.
“The International Olympic Committee’s refusal to observe a moment of silence on the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre, despite having done so in other circumstances, is a shameful and offensive act of cowardice and is a permanent stain on the IOC,” said David Siegel, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles. “This is a double tragedy. Our athletes were killed because they were Jews and Israelis. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the IOC is refusing to honor their memory for the same reason.”
Palestinian terrorists targeted, took hostage and murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches with the Israeli delegation during the second week of the 1972 Olympic Games. Prior to each Olympic Games since then, the widows of the slain Israelis have requested a commemoration for the victims to take place during opening ceremonies. The IOC has regularly rejected such requests, including one calling for a minute of silence during this year’s opening ceremony.
Speakers at the L.A. Coliseum, site of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, included L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; Federal Appeals Court Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who served as the secretary of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee; Barry Sanders, chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games; Guri Weinberg, son of slain wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg; and L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, led a prayer and moment of silence at the Coliseum. Cooper then joined Weinberg in lighting a memorial candle.
Cooper spoke of the “singular heroism” of Moshe Weinberg.
“He actually held the terrorists at bay at the entrance at the apartment in their village, allowing a number of Israeli athletes and coaches to escape certain death at the hand of the terrorists,” Cooper said.
Garcetti called attention to a resolution, which he authored and the city passed, which “puts the weight of the City of Los Angeles in support of a moment of silence,” Garcetti spokeswoman Julie Wong said.
While there will be no official commemoration during tonight’s opening ceremonies, the 11 Israelis are being remembered throughout the world. On July 23, a ceremony in honor of the victims was held inside Olympic Village. The British Zionist Federation and the World Zionist Federation held a memorial service at the Israeli Embassy in London on July 27, broadcasting live at minuteformunich.org. And sportscaster Bob Costas has promised an on-air moment of silence during NBC’s broadcast of the opening ceremony.
Following the L.A. press conference, the group of approximately 15 community leaders and their supporters entered the Coliseum and gathered around a large plaque hanging on a stadium wall that honors the murdered Israelis.
Originally installed at L.A. City Hall, following objections by the IOC that it not be installed at the Coliseum during the 1984 Olympics, the plaque was moved after the games.
Also in attendance on Friday was Mimi Weinberg, Moshe Weinberg’s widow, who chose not to speak during the event, but spoke with The Journal afterward.
It’s a “huge problem” that the IOC has not allowed a moment of silence for Israelis during opening ceremonies, Mimi Weinberg said, adding her hope that during “the next Olympics there is going to be one.”