At a memorial held in London to honor the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes killed during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman delivered a statement on behalf of President Barack Obama. The statement read:
Today, the United States is proud to stand in solemn remembrance with the Israeli people to remember the eleven Israeli athletes who were killed forty years ago. The passage of time cannot dim the memory of the hope and promise that those members of the Israeli Olympic team embodied, just as time does not dull the horror at the brutal terrorist attack that took their lives.
The Israeli citizens who were lost stood for what is best about their nation, and the Olympic movement. They excelled at wrestling and weightlifting, fencing and running. They were citizens of a young democracy in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. And let us always remember that they were fathers and sons, husbands and brothers, and their loss left an empty space in families, communities, and a country that will never forget them.
While the United States supported a moment of silence in their honor, we welcome any effort to recall the terrible loss that was suffered in Munich, and the lives of those who were lost. Let us rededicate ourselves to a world that represents the hopes of those athletes, and not the hate of those who took their lives. 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.
Obama previously offered his support for a moment of silence at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games currently taking place in London, although no such moment was held.
JTA reported from the memorial:
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.’
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