Israeli official thanks Australia for backing Olympics moment of silence

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Israel’s deputy foreign minister thanked Australia for supporting the campaign to urge the International Olympic Committee to hold a minute’s silence at the London Games in honor of the 11 Israelis murdered in Munich in 1972.

Danny Ayalon met earlier this week with Peter Slipper, the speaker of Australia’s Parliament who recently took a leave of absence from his post amid accusations of fraud and sexual harassment. Slipper is in Israel for an official visit.

Also present at the meeting were Ilana Romano and Ankie Spitzer, widows of two of the Munich 11, who have been campaigning for the IOC to acknowledge the Munich massacre.

Australian lawmakers on June 26 unanimously backed a motion calling on the IOC to hold a minute’s silence. The members of parliament backed the bill by standing in unison in silence.

"The Israeli people thank you and the Australian people for your moral and decent decision to hold a minute of silence in memory of the athletes murdered in Munich simply because they were Israelis,” Ayalon said.

In a statement, Romano and Spitzer said: "For 40 years we have walked alone, and it is wonderful that now the government of Israel as well as other governments around the world are supporting us and understand the injustice that has been done to us. We want to especially mention the Australian government, which was one of the first to call on the International Olympic Committee to hold a minute of silence. All of this support gives us the strength to continue, because we are no longer alone in our struggle.”

Slipper also spoke to Israeli President Shimon Peres. “I reiterated to the president and to the deputy foreign minister the strong links our two countries share, and highlighted the recent resolution passed by the entire Australian government and the Australian House of Representatives in support of a minute silence being held at the London Games in honor of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Games,“ he said.

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