Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
While the Jewish press was intimately involved in the events that led up to Jonah Lehrer’s latest book being pulled by its publisher, the people of the book have largely ignored other news on the retraction beat that broke last week – namely, that David Barton, a self-trained historian whose portrayal of America’s founding fathers as men motivated by Christian values has made him very popular among evangelicals, had his most recent book pulled by its publisher.
But while Lehrer-gate unfolded quickly – it was only a matter of weeks between the discovery of “self-plagiarism” and the uncovering of fabricated Bob Dylan quotes – the pulling of Barton’s book over concerns that it misrepresents basic historical facts about its subject, Thomas Jefferson, was decades in the making.
“The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson,” was published earlier this year by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. Since then, many eminent historians have rejected some of Barton’s basic claims about Jefferson, including the claim that he was a “conventional Christian.”
In a recent NPR report, Barton also was quoted as saying that the slave-owning founding father was actually a “civil rights visionary.”
Company executives explained that they had lost confidence in the accuracy of Barton’s book. “There were historical details — matters of fact, not matters of opinion, that were not supported at all,” Thomas Nelson Senior Vice President and Publisher Brian Hampton told bloggers for NPR.
Barton is a favorite among evangelical Christians; he’s also been on the Jewish world’s radar for a long time, at least since 1994, when the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that he had addressed two events in 1991 held by “Christian Identity” groups.
According to the ADL, Christian Identity is “a racist and anti-Semitic religious sect whose adherents believe that white people of European descent are the descendants of the ‘Lost Tribes,’ of ancient Israel.”
There’s no link between Barton and Christian Identity, according to Marilyn Mayo, the co-director of the ADL Center on Extremism, who said that Barton later told a reporter he did not know what kinds of groups he was addressing.
The basic subject of Barton’s talks in 1991—“He was advertised as a special speaker who would talk about America’s godly heritage,” Mayo said – seemed innocuous, although the flyer might have hinted at the more bigoted agenda of the audience. “Was it the plan of our forefathers that America be the melting pot home of various religions and philosophies?” Mayo said, quoting from the material promoting the Barton speech.
But, Mayo said, Barton is no anti-Semite; if anything, he’s a philo-Semite, in the way that American evangelical Christians are. Last year, Barton was a featured speaker at one of Glenn Beck’s rallies in Israel. Barton quoted from John Adams, praising Jews, saying, “I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation,”
But that’s not to say that there’s no reason for Jews to be concerned about Barton’s vision of America’s future – in which the country would be a Christian nation. And there’s good reason for everyone to take particular note of his claims about the American past.
“He clearly believes that separation of church and state wasn’t really the idea of the founding fathers,” Mayo said, and while that may not make Barton an anti-Semite, “it means that he believes that this country was founded on Christian precepts. That’s just not something that we agree with.”
5.15.13 at 4:51 pm | Attorney Ron Galperin is unhappy with Los Angeles. . .
4.25.13 at 12:28 pm | When Jesse Gabriel, an alumnus from the Jewish. . .
4.16.13 at 9:49 pm | “The appeal to violence and to extreme violence. . .
4.11.13 at 9:26 pm | Differences between the two veteran politicians. . .
4.10.13 at 10:29 pm | (Post includes a link to video of a one-hour. . .
4.4.13 at 11:35 pm | This time, he's off to Turkey.
5.15.13 at 4:51 pm | Attorney Ron Galperin is unhappy with Los Angeles. . . (683)
4.16.13 at 9:49 pm | “The appeal to violence and to extreme violence. . . (30)
4.10.13 at 10:29 pm | (Post includes a link to video of a one-hour. . . (30)
August 10, 2012 | 10:23 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
UPDATE: As of 4:35 pm on Friday, Aug. 10, the jury had yet to come back with a verdict in the case. Deliberations are set to resume on Monday morning.
The jury in the discrimination case brought by members of a pro-Israel group against the Hotel Shangri-La and its owner ended its first day of deliberations on Thursday, Aug. 9, without returning a verdict.
Attorneys for both sides delivered closing statements on Wednesday, Aug. 8. As of 5 p.m. on Thursday, the jury had not reached a verdict.
Tthere are 18 individual plaintiffs and one business entity involved in this suit against the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica and its owner, Tehmina Adaya, and the 12-person jury must consider each one separately. The case includes multiple claims made by each plaintiff; were the jury to find in favor of any or all of the plaintiffs, jurors would also have to decide in each case whether to hold Adaya, the hotel or both culpable of discrimination, and would need to decide how much money, if any to award in damages.
On all these matters, at least nine jurors have to agree on any decision before moving on to the next one.
And then there’s the added wrinkle that many of the facts in this case are contested – not least of them, whether the hotel owner is herself anti-Semitic.
“The cases that we find the most troubling, the most difficult to deal with, are ‘He said, She said’ cases,” Alison Mayersohn, a spokesperson for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said.
On July 11, 2010, the plaintiffs in this case, a group of young Jews in their 20s and 30s held a party at the Shangri-La’s pool. They allege that Adaya, a Pakistani-born Muslim, brought the party to an end after learning it had been organized by the young leadership division of the Los Angeles chapter of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).
The defense in this case maintains that no agreement had been reached between the hotel and the plaintiffs in advance of the party, which was organized by a promoter, and that the hotel was only following its own policies. Adaya, who was called to take the stand early in the trial by the plaintiffs’ attorney James Turken, denied she had acted in a discriminatory way, and denied ever making any comments about wanting “the [expletive] Jews” out of her hotel.
Mayersohn said the ADL had heard about the incident that ultimately led to this trial when it first occurred two years ago, and reached out to some of the plaintiffs at the time, but was ultimately not consulted on this case.
“We just couldn’t get any information,” Mayersohn said. “It seemed at the time that maybe people didn’t want to talk to us.”
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which often comments on cases of discrimination against Jews, also was not officially involved in this case, although Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said he had been consulted by one of the plaintiffs in a personal capacity.
Cooper said the plaintiff, whose name he declined to state, was “an individual with integrity, not someone with an axe to grind.” As a result, Cooper believes that the allegations made by the plaintiffs against Adaya and the hotel happened “did take place.”
More importantly, Cooper said that the case sent a signal that anti-Semitism would not be tolerated.
“The fact that there was a lawsuit, that it went to trial, that the judicial system thought it serious enough that it merited one…itself is a very important thing, win or lose,” Cooper said.
Muslim civil rights groups have also not been involved in this case.
“We’re just following the news,” said Munira Syeda, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The jury is scheduled to resume deliberations in the Santa Monica courthouse on Friday. According to a court employee, juries often conclude their deliberations by the end of the day on Friday, as many jurors are reluctant to return to the courthouse on a Monday. In an email sent to the Journal the end of the day on Thursday, Aug. 9, confirming that no verdict had been returned by the jury, Turken said that he “would suspect [we] will have one tomorrow.”
August 8, 2012 | 7:15 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Attorneys presented their closing arguments on Wednesday, Aug. 8, in the discrimination trial brought by members of a pro-Israel group against the owner of a boutique hotel in Santa Monica.
After a trial that had lasted nearly 10 days, the jurors listened as lawyers for the two sides attempted to frame the case before deliberations began.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, James Turken, argued that his clients, who include more than a dozen members of the young leadership division of the Los Angeles chapter of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), had been the victims of discrimination when the owner of the Hotel Shangri-La shut down an event they were holding on July 11, 2010, at the pool in her hotel.
The evidence presented during the trial, Turken said, showed that the FIDF group had an agreement with the hotel, that the hotel’s owner had acted against them only after finding out what type of group they were and that those actions caused his clients “severe emotional distress.”
“They underwent systematic, severe discrimination and hate, not something mild,” Turken said, urging the jury to award damages to his 18 individual clients amounting to tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
John Levitt, the defense attorney representing the hotel and its part-owner, Tehmina Adaya, a Pakistani-born, Muslim-American, rejected the claim that his client had denied the FIDF members full, adequate and equal “accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges or services because of their Jewish religion, ancestry or national origin.”
To have been victims of discrimination, Levitt argued, the plaintiffs “had to have been entitled” to the accommodations and privileges they say that Adaya denied them, including use of the pool and the right to display banners and distribute literature.
“The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the evidence shows they weren’t entitled to any of these things,” Levitt said.
Following Levitt’s closing argument, Turken, in his rebuttal, made specific mention of the fact the defense only called two witnesses to testify in the case, only one of whom was present at the hotel on the day of the event that led to this case.
After the jury left the chamber, the lawyers thanked presiding Judge H. Chester Horn, Jr.
“It was a very, very interesting trial,” Horn said.
Meanwhile, a few of the plaintiffs chatted outside the courtroom.
Scott Paletz, who had spent five hours on the witness stand during the trial, sits at its center, and defense attorneys have argued that he, as the event promoter who brought the FIDF group to the Shangri-La for the ill-fated event and initially acted as a go-between for the two parties, didn’t perform his job adequately.
Paletz denies that charge, and said he was certain that what he and the other plaintiffs experienced at the Shangri-La was, in fact, discrimination. But he acknowledged that it might be hard to convey that to others.
“If you weren’t there that day, you don’t know what happened,” Paletz said. Still, he had faith in the jury, which began deliberations immediately following the closing arguments.
“We have to put our faith in the system,” Paletz said.
August 2, 2012 | 3:51 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Until she testified in court on Aug. 1, Tehmina Adaya, who is part owner, president and CEO of the Hotel Shangri-La, was a silent but constant presence in the discrimination lawsuit brought against her and her hotel.
During the first few days of witness testimony, while most of the plaintiffs – a group of young Jewish members of a pro-Israel group – sat in a group near the back of the courtroom, Adaya could frequently be found in a rolling office chair, situated just a few feet behind her team of defense attorneys. And the witnesses who testified in this case – in which Adaya is accused of abruptly shutting down a party being held at the hotel’s pool in July 2010 that was organized by the local young leadership division of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) – often talked about her.
When she took the stand on Aug 1, the jury (and a larger than usual number of observers) finally got to hear Adaya explain, in her own words, how the FIDF party went so wrong.
Most of the two hours Adaya spent on the witness stand on Wednesday morning was devoted to learning what she did and did not know about the FIDF group’s July 11, 2010, event.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, James Turken, peppered Adaya with questions about whether she herself checked the hotel calendar to see if the event was listed there (Adaya said she hadn’t, but that she had assigned her head of security to do so), whether she contacted anyone in charge of booking events at the hotel during the event to determine whether the FIDF group had a right to be there (Adaya said she tried to but was unable to reach anyone over the phone) and whether there existed some written hotel policy governing what groups holding events on the pool deck are or are not allowed to do (Adaya said that such a policy existed, but not in writing).
On this last point, Adaya said that today, a sign stands on the pool deck informing visitors that only guests of the hotel and people who have rented cabanas are entitled to swim in the pool. Asked whether such a sign was posted on the day of the FIDF event, however, Adaya responded, “I’m not sure.”
For a case involving charges of anti-Semitism, Adaya’s testimony on Wednesday morning might have seemed rather technical to some in the courtroom, and never more so than when Adaya was asked to explain the relationship between the hotel, which she runs, and the separate company called Domalury, that runs the food and beverage concessions in the hotel, including the poolside eating area.
At least one juror had a confused look on his face as Adaya said that third parties – like event promoters – could be expected to know that the Domalury was a separate entity from the Hotel Shangri-La because they would occasionally bill the hotel and receive checks from the food and beverage concessionaire.
Among the evidence introduced in the morning session was an image from the hotel’s Facebook page, advertising a public poolside party to watch the World Cup at the hotel, as well as undated pictures from unidentified parties that had been thrown at the hotel pool. Also displayed for the jury was an image from Adaya’s personal website, which included an entry in which she described spending a “languorous” day by the pool on July 11, 2010, with some of her “really good friends.”
Turken asked Adaya if the FIDF group had been causing her a problem that day.
“Define ‘problem,’” she said.
“I really can’t, ma’am,” Turken said.
“There was a problem because we didn’t know whether they were authorized to do what they were doing,” Adaya said.
Turken followed with a series of about five rapid-fire questions. Were the members of the FIDF group creating a disturbance? Were they acting in a drunken or disorderly way? Were they creating problems?
No, was Adaya’s response to all the questions.
Adaya’s testimony continued into the afternoon on Wednesday; the hotel’s head of security was also expected to testify at the trial that day. The trial, which resumed for a fifth day of witness testimony on Aug. 2, is expected to continue for another week.
July 30, 2012 | 1:08 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Is the word “Jew” offensive? What about “f***ing Jew?”
That rather provocative question was posed on Friday by Philip Black, one of the attorneys defending the Muslim owner of the Hotel Shangri-La, a boutique hotel in Santa Monica. Black’s client, Tehmina Adaya, has been accused of discrimination by more than a dozen members of a local pro-Israel group, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Young Leadership Division in Los Angeles. The plaintiffs say Adaya discriminated against them when she allegedly shut down a pool party they were holding at the Shangri-La in July 2010.
The trial, which began with opening statements on July 26, may focus in large part on who knew and authorized the pool party in advance and the vagaries of how event promoters and venue owners relate to one another.
But because part of what underlies the accusations of discrimination against Adaya is that she allegedly told one of her employees on that Sunday in July two years ago that she did not “want any Jews in the pool” and that she “wanted those f***ing people gone,” the result of this trial could also hinge on whether or not the jury believes that anti-Semitism was the motivation for the hotel owner’s alleged actions vis-à-vis FIDF’s event that day.
Which is how it happened that defense attorney Black, during his cross-examination of witness and plaintiff Ari Ryan on Friday afternoon, tried to illustrate for the jury that calling someone a Jew doesn’t make one an anti-Semite.
“Sir,” said Black, who wore a yellow tie with a matching silk square in the pocket of his taupe suite, “you are a Jew.”
“Yes sir,” Ryan, one of the cofounders of the FIDF young leadership group, replied. “Born and raised.”
“And that, sir, in and of itself, is not offensive,” Black said.
“It can be,” Ryan said, adding that it depended on the context and tone in which the word “Jew” was said.
“But ‘Fucking Jew’ offends you.”
“Of course,” said Ryan.
What was Black trying to prove with his line of questioning? That even if his client did say the word, “Jews,” that her utterance might not have been anti-Semitic.
That’s just one of the “Big Jewish Questions” that this case has touched on so far. Black also queried Ryan as to whether the FIDF, which supports all members of the Israel Defense Forces, regardless of religion, could be considered a “Jewish” group. It’s unclear why the defense might want to pursue this kind of questioning, but it provided an interesting insight into the challenges that the FIDF as an organization faces.
Nicholas Morrison, another plaintiff who began his testimony near the end of the day on Friday, was one of the lead planners of the FIDF event. Morrison told the court that in his one meeting with the member of the hotel staff responsible for booking events on the property, the conversation covered topics well beyond towels and cabanas. “I told her that our organization provide[s] aid to Israeli soldiers,” Morrison said, “that we are not buying bullets, not buying flak jackets.”
The first witness called to take the stand on Friday—Joshua Glaser, the former head of food and beverage at the Shangri-La—told the jury that he had made the arrangements with the promoter who put together the event for the FIDF group. That promoter, Scott Paletz, is expected to take the stand on Monday.
But it was Ryan, who was described in a Los Angeles Times article about the trial as “a real estate entrepreneur who lives in Westwood,” whose testimony provided the clearest illustration of just how determined the plaintiffs are in their pursuit of this unusual—and highly charged—case they have brought against Adaya and the hotel of which she is a part owner.
Many of the plaintiffs have attended every day of the trial so far, including the three-and-a-half day process of selecting a jury. They sit clustered into a group of seats on the right side of the observers’ section of the courtroom.
And the outcome of the trial is far from certain – not least because the plaintiffs are a group of white, articulate and apparently well-off people in their 30s. Black’s cross examination of Ryan included a mention of the damages the plaintiffs are seeking – on friday, attorney Black submitted into evidence a document signed by Ryann saying that he was seeking $150,000 in past and future medical expenses, despite his not having undergone any formal physical or psychological treatment as a result of the incident at the Shangri-La.
Other plaintiffs may tell different stories when they take the stand – many are expected to testify at trial, as is Rabbi David Wolpe, who will be called by plaintiffs’ attorney James Turken to take the stand on Tuesday morning.
I talked to two observers who were present in the courtroom on Friday, neither of them linked to a side of the case. One told me she had doubts that the plaintiffs are suffering from emotional distress deserving of compensatory damages of more than $3 million.
The other, Eli, an Israeli-born Santa Monica resident who gave only his first name, said he was looking forward to when Adaya would take the stand, and wasn’t certain that the plaintiffs had been discriminated against at all.
And indeed Ryan, in his testimony, seemed to suggest that he couldn’t quite believe he was being discriminated against.
“It was very surreal, it almost felt like I was in a movie,” said Ryan, who studied cinema as an undergraduate at the University of Southern California. “It took a while to set in because you just don t expect that to be happening.”
The trial resumes at the Los Angeles Superior Court in Santa Monica on Monday, July 30, at 9 am.
July 27, 2012 | 12:29 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
A case of discrimination brought by a group of young Los Angeles Jews affiliated with a pro-Israel group against the Muslim owner of a hotel in Santa Monica began in Los Angeles Superior Court in Santa Monica on July 26.
The plaintiffs, including more than a dozen young Jewish Angelenos affiliated with the nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), have accused Tehmina Adaya, the owner of the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, of discriminating against them when, on July 11, 2010, they say she brought to an abrupt end a party that the plaintiffs say had been approved by members of the hotel’s management in advance.
In his opening statement, the plaintiffs’ attorney James H. Turken outlined the case that he will present over the course of a jury trial, set to continue over the coming two weeks.
Beginning on Friday morning, when he calls his first witnesses, Turken will make the case that the event at the Shangri-La’s pool had been arranged in advance with the hotel’s management, that Adaya – who happened to be watching the World Cup Finals that Sunday in a private cabana by the pool – didn’t know that the event taking place was organized by a Jewish group, and that when Adaya found out about this, she reacted in an “exceedingly” angry way.
The plaintiffs, who on Thursday occupied many of the seats in the visitors’ section of the courtroom, have charged Adaya and the hotel with multiple violations, including discrimination, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and a handful of business-related violations, and are seeking compensatory and punitive damages that could amount to millions of dollars.
But if Turken, in his opening statement, called what took place at the Shangri-La pool on that Sunday in 2010, “egregious discrimination against a group of young people,” defense attorney John S. Levitt told the jury that the FIDF pool party had not been prearranged with the staff members at the hotel responsible for booking events of this type.
“This was not a case of discrimination,” Levitt told the jurors. What the evidence would show, Levitt said, is that while members of the FIDF’s Young Leadership division thought that they had arranged for their event to take place at the Shangri-La, no agreement had been made with the hotel’s management.
The promoter responsible for that Sunday’s event—who is one of the plaintiffs in the case against Adaya and the Shangri-La – had, in Levitt’s words, “sold [the FIDF members] a bill of goods.”
The two opening statements, both delivered within about an hour, came after a jury-selection process that had taken the better part of the prior three days. Nine women and seven men – 12 jurors and four alternates – listened and took notes as the attorneys laid out their cases.
From those statements, it would appear that much of the evidence to be presented in this civil lawsuit will be rather mundane; emails between the people involved in planning this party are likely to be of great importance.
But the most attention-grabbing aspect of this case, by far, is the comment alleged to have been made by Adaya on July 11, 2010—something to the effect of, “Get these f***ing Jews out of my pool.”
Which helps to explain why Levitt began his opening statement by introducing Adaya to the jury as someone who has had many positive professional and personal interactions with Jews over the course of her life.
Adaya, who was present in court on Thursday and is expected to take the stand next week, was born in Pakistan. A Muslim, Adaya attended Catholic schools in Pakistan; after moving to the United States, she went to what was then called Westlake School for Girls—a school attended by many Jewish girls, Levitt said. As an undergraduate at UCLA, Levitt said that Adaya sought to join Alpha Epsilon Phi, “a predominantly – if not almost exclusively Jewish sorority.”
Adaya lived in the AEPhi house for three months, Levitt said, but later moved out to focus on her studies. “Not because of who the girls were and what their religious background was,” Levitt said.
But if her attorney’s goal is to present Adaya as someone who does not have “a discriminatory bone in her body,” the attorney representing the plaintiffs sought, from the very start of his opening statement, to paint a different picture.
“Every case has a theme and this case is no different,” Turken told the jury, “and the theme here is: Just because you can’t believe it could happen here doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
The case resumes at 9:30 am on Friday.
July 24, 2012 | 2:41 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
On July 23, at the end of a day of fundraisers, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney sat down for dinner in Bel Air with about 75 members of the local Jewish community who reportedly paid $50,000 per couple to dine with the former Massachusetts governor.
Not that Romney ate anything.
“He doesn’t eat,” said Fred Sands, who attended three of the Romney fundraisers in Southern California that day and hosted the dinner at his home in Bel Air. “At the lunch in Malibu, he had some gazpacho.”
Sands said the Jewish community fundraiser brought in $1.5 million; the Romney campaign said the day’s total take was about $10 million, according to The Huffington Post.
Sands, who describes himself as “very conservative,” supported Texas Governor Rick Perry in the Republican primary. He is singularly dedicated to preventing President Barack Obama from being reelected, and has since come around on Romney.
“He’s gotten much better as a speaker,” Sands told The Journal on Tuesday. “He’s very passionate and focused – an impressive man.”
Romney started the day with a morning breakfast in Irvine where, according to The Huffington Post, he offered a measured (if somewhat oblique) response to the mass shooting in Colorado over the weekend, saying that in “a time of trauma and trial,” Americans should act locally.
Romney himself is about to go global, though, set to visit England, Israel and Poland over the next week.
Accordingly, Romney devoted part of his remarks at the Jewish community fundraising event to declare his commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship, and to accuse the President of not doing enough for Israel during his first term.
“He [Romney] said he doesn’t think this President really is focused on Israel,” Sands said. “He hasn’t been there since he was President.”
According to Sands, Romney said he was looking forward to meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; the two worked together at a consulting firm in the 1970s.
Even on the eve of his trip overseas, however, the central thrust of Romney’s Presidential campaign – that he, if elected, would be friendlier to business than Obama has been – was very much in evidence at his Southern California appearances.
At an appearance in Costa Mesa on Monday morning, Romney sat with a group of CEOs in front of a backdrop with the words “We Did Build It!” a reference to a comment made by Obama earlier this month in which the President said the words “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Romney and his allies have focused their attention solely on those words, paying no attention to the context in which they were delivered. Speaking in Roanoke, Va., on July 13, Obama pointed to what government has done to help many businesses thrive, including building infrastructure like roads and bridges, investing in teachers and the education system and sponsoring research that has led to technological advances, including the Internet.
The Associated Press said Romney and his allies were taking the comment “wildly out of context.”
Still, Sands felt the remark was indicative of Obama’s general ideological stance. “I think it was who he is,” Sands said. “He was tired, and he spoke from his heart.”
Those who arrived at Sands’s home for the Romney fundraising dinner on Monday would have had to walk past another poster referencing Obama’s comment. Hanging in the entry hall of his home, Sands said, was a poster that read, “You didn’t build that,” which included a photo of the President sitting with his feet up.
(One such image – featuring a picture of Steve Jobs introducing the iPod—could be found on an online message board.)
“I built a huge company,” said Sands, who is the chairman of a firm that acquires and redevelops under-performing regional malls and large shopping centers and also runs a private equity fund that occasionally buys troubled businesses and companies. “I never got any help from the government.”
July 22, 2012 | 11:41 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The International Olympic Committee president stood firm in his refusal to hold a minute of silence at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in memory of the Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago, the Associated Press reported.
Despite an online petition signed by more than 100,000 people and a statement by President Barack Obama saying that he supports a public remembrance of the Israeli athletes who were killed by Palestinian terrorists in 1972, IOC President Jacques Rogge told the Associated Press that, “the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.”
Rogge said the IOC would honor the athletes elsewhere and at other times, including at a reception in London during the games on Aug. 6, and a ceremony to take place in September at the military airfield in Germany where the Israeli athletes were killed.
That the IOC is participating in any remembrances of the Israeli athletes, who have come to be known as “The Munich 11,” could be seen as a degree of progress, given the IOC’s absence at a similar ceremony that took place in 1984, when Los Angeles hosted the games.
That year, city officials, leaders of the Jewish community and members of the Israeli Olympic delegation attended a memorial ceremony at Los Angeles’s City Hall. No IOC officials attended that ceremony, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times from 1984. The commemorative plaque unveiled at that ceremony, which now hangs at the Coliseum, was initially displayed at City Hall because the IOC refused to allow it to be hung at the Coliseum while the games were going on.
For more on Los Angeles’s efforts in 1984 to remember the Munich 11, click here.