WASHINGTON (JTA) – Mitt Romney joined the campaign for a moment of silence at the London Olympics to remember the 11 Israelis killed at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
"Gov. Romney supports the moment of silence in remembrance of the Israeli athletes killed in the Munich Olympic Games," Andrea Saul, the spokeswoman for the presidential campaign of Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and presumptive Republican nominee, said in an email.
Romney, who directed the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, will attend the opening ceremony on Friday. His support comes four days after President Obama joined the growing calls for a moment of silence.
“We absolutely support the campaign for a minute of silence at the Olympics to honor the Israeli athletes killed in Munich,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said last week.
Romney has come under fire from Democrats for not voicing similar support for a moment of silence on the 30th anniversary of the massacre during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
Deborah Lipstadt, a prominent Holocaust historian, faulted Romney for not expressing support for such a moment in 2002, when his position directing the Winter Olympics would have weighed heavily with the International Olympic Committee.
"Mitt Romney’s failure to do that was failure of character," Lipstadt told Reuters. The historian told the news agency that she supports Obama but is not connected to his campaign.
Saul did not answer JTA’s query about Romney’s position on the moment of silence during the 2002 Olympics.
The families of the victims of the 1972 massacre have mounted a global campaign to get the IOC to hold an official moment of silence at the Games — something IOC officials already have rejected for this year and have never done in the past. However, IOC representatives have attended Israeli and Jewish-organized commemorations.
On Monday, IOC head Jacques Rogge held a moment of silence in the Olympic Village, the first time the deaths have been commemorated in the athletes’ home during the Games.
Along with Obama and now Romney, the U.S. Senate, the German Bundestag, the Canadian and Australian parliaments, about 50 members of the British Parliament, the Israeli government, Jewish organizations worldwide and about 100 members of Australia’s Parliament have urged the IOC to hold a moment of silence.