London memorial remembers Israelis killed at Munich Olympics

(JTA) — British Prime Minister David Cameron at a memorial event said the world should "stop and remember" the 11 Israelis killed 40 years ago at the Munich Olympics.

"It was a truly shocking act of evil. A crime against the Jewish people. A crime against humanity. A crime the world must never forget," Cameron said Monday in London. "We remember them today, with you, as fathers, husbands and athletes. As innocent men. As Olympians. And as members of the people of Israel, murdered doing nothing more and nothing less than representing their country in sport."

The event was organized by the National Olympic Committee of Israel, the Jewish Committee for the London Games and the Embassy of Israel.

Among those attending the memorial were Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of two of the Israelis, and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, who rejected their request, as well as that of relatives and supporters of the slain athletes and coaches, to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. British government ministers and Israeli officials also attended the memorial.

"For us, the memory of our athletes slain in Munich by Palestinian terrorists is forever etched in our collective soul," Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat said at the ceremony. "There is a line to be drawn from Auschwitz to Munich, and from Munich to Burgas, where Israeli tourists were murdered by terrorists just three weeks ago."

"It is the murder of Jews simply because they are Jews," she said.

Spitzer asserted in her remarks that the IOC did not memorialize the Israeli athletes because they were Jewish, and insisted that they should be honored in an official Olympic context.

Rogge who was an athlete at the 1972 Munich Olympics,told the gathering "Even after 40 years, it is painful to relive the most painful moments of the Olympic movement. I can only imagine how painful it must be for the families and close personal friends of the victims."

International politicians and public figures, including President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had called for an official moment of silence at the opening ceremonies in London.

Louis Susman, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, read a prepared statement by Obama.

"Let us rededicate ourselves to a world that represents the hopes of those athletes, and not the hate of those who took their lives," the statement said. "Let us support the families who have endured forty years without their loved ones. And let us reaffirm the bonds between the United States, Israel, and all those around the world who strive for a world of peace and justice."

Rogge held a moment of silence for the murdered athletes at a small ceremony in the Olympic Village late last month.
 

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