Munich(Although it’s not the strictly chronological anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes on Sept. 5, 1972 at the Olympics in Munich, it seems appropriate to remember it now, as the 2016 Olympics begin.
A phrase like “11 Israeli athletes” makes it too easy to look at them impersonally. They were 11 distinct human beings.
As I tried to do with the memories of Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair, the 4 African-American girls who died in the bombing of a Birmingham, AL church on Sept. 15, 1963
[*], I wanted to honor the Israeli athletes’ memories by at least showing their faces and mentioning their actual names. I also included the name of a German police officer who was killed trying to stop the terrorists. His picture will follow.

There was no universal condemnation of the murders. The Olympic committee barely noted it until Aug. 3, 2016 — yes, 44 years later.
The world’s silence at the death of 11 Israelis gave license to the kind of war on non-combatant, innocent civilians that we now see directed not only at Israelis, but at Jews everywhere, and at an increasing number of other ethnicities and nationalities: Look at Boko Harum in Africa or ISIS in the Middle East.
Perhaps the Olympic Committee is finally acknowledging the deaths of those Israelis because the world is at least beginning to be horrified at the consequence of allowing this to happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.)

Shot during the initial break-in

Moshe Weinberg, wrestling coach
Yossef Romano, weightlifter

Shot and killed by grenade in eastern-side helicopter D-HAQO
According to the order in which they were seated, from left to right:

Ze’ev Friedman, weightlifter
David Berger, weightlifter (survived grenade but died of smoke inhalation)
Yakov Springer, weightlifting judge
Eliezer Halfin, wrestler

Shot in western-side helicopter D-HAQU
According to the order in which they were seated, from left to right:
Yossef Gutfreund, wrestling referee
Kehat Shorr, shooting coach
Mark Slavin, wrestler
Andre Spitzer, fencing coach
Amitzur Shapira, track coach

Shot on airstrip

Anton Fliegerbauer, German police officer

What Was the Munich Massacre?

The Munich Massacre was a terrorist attack during the 1972 Olympic Games. Eight Palestinian terrorists killed two members of the Israeli Olympic team and then took nine others hostage. The situation was ended by a huge gunfight that left five of the terrorists and all of the nine hostages dead. Following the massacre, the Israeli government organized a retaliation against Black September, called “Operation Wrath of God.”

Date: September 5, 1972
Also Known As: 1972 Olympics Massacre

Stressful Olympics
The XXth Olympic Games were held in Munich, Germany in 1972. Tensions were high at these Olympics, because they were the first Olympic Games held in Germany since the Nazis hosted the Games in 1936. The Israeli athletes and their trainers were especially nervous; many had family members who had been murdered during the Holocaust or were themselves Holocaust survivors.

The Attack

The first few days of the Olympic Games went smoothly.
On September 4, the Israeli team spent the evening out to see the play, “Fiddler on the Roof” and then went back to the Olympic Village to sleep.
A little after 4 a.m. on September 5, as the Israeli athletes slept, eight members of the Palestinian terrorist organization, Black September, jumped over the six-foot high fence that encircled the Olympic Village.
The terrorists headed straight for 31 Connollystrasse, the building where the Israeli contingent was staying. Around 4:30 a.m., the terrorists entered the building. They rounded up the occupants of apartment 1 and then apartment 3. Several of the Israelis fought back; two of them were killed. A couple of others were able to escape out windows. Nine were taken hostage. [The full details of the torture of the Israelis, including the mutilation of Yossef Romano, are only coming out now, after being suppressed since 1972.]

Standoff at the Apartment Building

By 5:10 a.m., the police had been alerted and news of the attack had begun to spread around the world. The terrorists then dropped a list of their demands out the window: They wanted 234 prisoners released from Israeli prisons and two from German prisons by 9 a.m.
Negotiators were able to extend the deadline to noon, then 1 p.m., then 3 p.m., then 5 p.m. However, the terrorists refused to back down on their demands and Israel refused to release the prisoners. A confrontation became inevitable.
At 5 p.m., the terrorists realized that their demands were not going to be met. They asked for two planes to fly both the terrorists and the hostages to Cairo, Egypt, hoping a new locale would help get their demands met. The German officials agreed, but realized that they could not let the terrorists leave Germany.
Desperate to end the standoff, the Germans organized Operation Sunshine, which was a plan to storm the apartment building. The terrorists discovered the plan by watching television. The Germans then planned to attack the terrorists on their way to the airport, but again the terrorists found out their plans.

Massacre at the Airport

Around 10:30 p.m., the terrorists and hostages were transported to the Fürstenfeldbruck airport by helicopter. The Germans had decided to confront the terrorists at the airport and had snipers waiting for them.
Once on the ground, the terrorists realized there was a trap. Snipers started shooting at them and they shot back. Two terrorists and one policeman were killed. Then a stalemate developed. The Germans requested armored cars and waited for over an hour for them to arrive.
When the armored cars arrived, the terrorists knew the end had come. One of the terrorists jumped into a helicopter and shot four of the hostages, then threw in a grenade. Another terrorist hopped into the other helicopter and used his machine gun to kill the remaining five hostages.
The snipers and armored cars killed three more terrorists in this second round of gunfire. Three terrorists survived the attack and were taken into custody.
Less than two months later, the three remaining terrorists were released by the German government after two other Black September members hijacked a plane and threatened to blow it up unless the three were released. [2]

In horrible irony, the mother of the leader of the terrorists was a Jewish woman who had married a wealthy Christian Arab businessman:

“Luttif ‘Issa’ [‘Jesus’] Afif, the leader of the PLO-affiliated Black September group that captured and killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, was born to a Jewish mother and a Christian father.” [3]

Afif’s Jewish mother had married an Arab man. Interfaith marriages don’t outrage me. But two of Afif’s brothers were in Israeli prisons and a third was a member of “Black September.” When 4 children of a Jewish mother are willing to act violently against Israel, I have to wonder about the mother’s own anti-Israel and, perhaps, anti-Jewish feelings.

What can this possible teach us? Perhaps that those who kill while claiming commitment to some religious or political ideal are often acting out inner conflicts of their own, while using others’ misery as their excuse and rationalization. “Jesus” (“Issa” in Arabic) was Afif’s alias. What could be a clearer sign of this person’s desire to make it appear — to himself, most of all — that he was acting selflessly when, in fact, he was consumed with selfishness?

The world is only now beginning to see — however temporarily — that this violence is not to be accepted, let alone cheered, lest the entire world burst into the flames of random acts of murder.

“And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse…” [4]

I say with awe and sorrow:
What the world allows to be done to Jews,
will ultimately be done to the world.

“Had the world come down when the terrorists shot the Israeli athletes at the Olympics [1972], or hijacked EL AL planes, and come down on them hard, we wouldn’t have had what happened in Paris, today [11/13/15],” said [NY Senator Charles] Schumer…” [5]

Yet, there can be positive change:

“On 3 August 2016, two days prior to the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee officially honored, for the first time, the eleven Israelis killed [in Munich on Sept. 5, 1972].” [1]

Let us take that as a hopeful sign.





[3] Ciment, James (20 March 2015). Encyclopedia of Conflicts Since World War II. Routledge. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-317-47186-8.
see also:

[4] B’reishith/Gen. 12:3