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A Moment for Olympic Moral Courage

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
In 1972, Palestinian terrorists affiliated with terrorist group Black September murdered 11 Israeli Olympic athletes and one American, David Burger, in Munich, Germany. German security forces were unable to rescue the athletes, and the terrorists emerged unscathed as heroes of a terrorist movement that would plague the world for the next forty years.

Western governments, through their pathetic, morally indefensible non-response to the massacre, implicitly and cowardly legitimized terror as a valid means of Palestinian (and on a larger scale, Muslim) political expression. Indeed, Palestinian terrorist leader Yasser Arafat, who personally directed the Munich massacre, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his efforts to “create peace in the Middle East.” Similarly, the man many recently believed was the key to the “peace process,” Palestinian Authority president and so-called “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas, was likewise implicated in the Munich massacre.

Forty years later, as thirty-seven Israeli athletes arrive in London to participate in the Olympic Games, President Obama has a golden opportunity to show moral courage where the rest of the world has faltered. President Obama has reportedly backed an effort to hold a minute of silence during the upcoming opening ceremonies at the London Olympics to recognize the Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Games. For a president who has thus far refused to visit Israel and has publicly snubbed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this is a good start.

International Olympic Committee president and moral coward Jacques Rogge quashed the idea, however, saying, “We feel that the Opening Ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.” With respect, the Opening Ceremonies are just such a time.

A simple, yet powerful symbol of remembrance of the Munich massacre is necessary and appropriate, especially in light of last week’s terrorist bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria that many suspect was perpetrated by Iran’s hit squad, the Quds Force. To send a global message that America rejects terror and stands with Israel as it does the same, we propose the following.

American and British Olympians should wear an Israeli flag lapel pin on the blazers of their Olympic uniforms. Further, both countries’ teams should carry the Israeli flag alongside their respective flags, the Stars and Stripes and Union Jack. Finally, once both teams have been introduced and have taken their place in the opening ceremonies, they should unilaterally recognize a minute of silence in remembrance of the eleven Israeli athletes and one American athlete who were murdered in Munich.

Beyond this, President Obama must speak. As always, the world looks to America for moral leadership, and President Obama has an ideal opportunity to provide it. He doesn’t need to give another long-winded Cairo speech lamenting America’s sins abroad or drawing a perverse moral equivalence between America and our enemies. Something simple and direct will suffice. It could go something like this:

“Forty years ago, Palestinian terrorists killed eleven Israeli athletes and one American athlete in a senseless act of indefensible evil. In response, the world did nothing, and in the subsequent years, we have failed to pay adequate tribute to those who were killed, and failed to condemn the barbarity of what was done. Today we correct those failures.

Today we say that the murder of those athletes was evil, and we mourn with their families. Many years have passed since that day, and we know that time cannot erase the heartbreak and loss that you feel. But we know that God comforts the grieving, and our prayer is that you know His comfort today. Today we also say that terrorism has no place at the Olympics, or in Israel, or in London, or New York, or anywhere else. America stands with Israel today and vows to do whatever is necessary, whenever necessary, to ensure her safety and security.

“Finally, to those who traffic in terror – who attack innocents on buses in Bulgaria, and in subways in London, and on trains in Spain, and in nightclubs in Jakarta, and in hotels in Mumbai or Jordan – know this: your day of reckoning will come. America will not stand idly by while you terrorize innocents. To those who would test our resolve, hear this: if you do, the full resources of the United States government and our allies will be unleashed against you, and against those who support you. You will find no sanctuary from our justice.

“The United States looks forward to a safe and historic Olympic games. God bless the United States, Britain, Israel and all of the athletes assembled from across the world who inspire us with their excellence. Thank you.”

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