The fight continues to convince the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence at this year's London Games in honor of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches slain 40 years ago. This past week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution pushing for a minute of silence. A similar resolution passed in the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and in the N.Y. State Assembly, and Canadian, Australian and British lawmakers have taken up the cause. The online petition started by the widow of one of the slain athletes is at more than 80,000 signatures. JTA checks in with Ankie Spitzer on this very important quest:
"It cannot be that in the Olympic Village that this happened to 11 athletes," Spitzer said in a recent interview from her home in Ramat HaSharon, Israel. "They were not armed. They did not come to fight. They came to participate in the Olympics. It cannot be that tomorrow, nobody will talk about this anymore."
And now, as the XXX Olympic Games in London approach, people are talking. That 2012 marks 40 years and the 10th Olympiad since the events accounts for some of the attention. An online petition at Change.org has sparked the rest.
Spitzer's quest began almost as soon as Jim McKay, the ABC sportscaster, uttered those now famous words, "They're all gone," to an international television audience. Only 26 at the time, Spitzer was a recent immigrant to Israel, speaking limited Hebrew, with a 2-month-old daughter, Anouk. A native of Holland, she had married her fencing instructor, Andrei, 15 months earlier. She returned to Israel, along with the coffins of the athletes, filled with sorrow and hate.
About two months after the massacre, she realized she did not want to raise Anouk with such feelings.
"I could not wake with hatred in my heart because you cannot think straight, you cannot raise a kid," she said. "Hatred and revenge are not a part of me. I am an optimist and believe in the Olympic ideal."
About a year later, she wrote her first letters to the International Olympic Committee. Spitzer asked not if the IOC would be doing anything, but how it would be remembering the 11 at the Montreal Games in 1976. She simply assumed the IOC would be doing something.
The letters went unanswered.
About two years into her "pestering," as Spitzer calls it, she met Romano's widow, Ilana, and the two began working together. She and Romano paid their own way to Montreal, where they held a packed news conference, attended the opening ceremony "and sat there like two idiots with black armbands."
No mention was made of the murdered Israelis...
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