forgiving the unforgivable

soldiers responsible for the flags at the memorial for the murdered athletes and coaches of the Israeli Olympic Team

One never knows what people will like. My last blogpost was one I’d saved, because although I thought it was morbid and dark, I thought it’d spur some conversation. Not in the least.

Amy over at Lucy’s Football commented on it, but she’d comment on me cutting and pasting swaths of the phone book. She’s on my team. Getting her into the conversation is sort of a given.

Why did I even go as negative as I did in Five things to harass the Dying? Well, believe it or not, there was method to my madness. I knew I’d be going to the ceremony commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics that day.

When I was having my first cup of tea that morning, I really pondered what it must’ve been like to be a family member of one of the slain Israeli athletes. Could I really forgive what was done in the name of making a political statement? If the people who perpetrated the crime never apologised or even saw that what they’d done was wrong, then how could forgiveness even be a topic under discussion?

I suppose the forgiveness is part of what’s slowly happening between the Jewish people and the German State. Think about it for a second, will you?

Your people were murdered in the millions in a methodical manner during a war that somehow engulfed most of the planet. Then nearly thirty years later the international community watches as your citizens are brutally murdered in the same country in which those wartime atrocities had taken place. How would you feel?

I know it’s very popular to criticise Israel, especially on the left, and I won’t begin to defend the way the present day Palestinians are being treated. It’s a travesty. Full stop. However, when I look at the way the Israeli citizens are treated in very symbolic ways, I can’t help but feel that there is some sort of prevailing anti-semitism on the world stage.

When the two athletes were killed at 31 Connolly Straße in the Olympic Village in Munich in the early morning hours of 5 September 1972, the world watched as those in control of the Olympics decided that the show must go on. Really? Two athletes had died at the hands of terrorists.

Because of enough of an outcry the Games were halted on that day while the police tried to figure out the best way to handle the situation. It was only much later that night that the remaining members of the team (both athletes and coaches), as well as one West German police officer, were killed by the terrorists.

Well,‘ you ask,’Certainly, they stopped the Games then, didn’t they?

You know where this is going, right? After what was deemed a suitable period of honorable waiting, the Olympics went on. The prevailing wisdom was that stopping the event would be letting the terrorists win. Twelve people had been murdered at the Olympics, and the Israeli government should somehow be grateful that there was a memorial service for those who were killed. I don’t think that’s how they saw it. Am pretty certain they saw it very differently.

I’m prepared for preposterous comments here as a result of this topic. Please be warned that I’ll delete any ridiculousness. If you can’t be civil, go somewhere else. I’ve got little, if any,time for nonsense. Really, I don’t.

Here’s what I wrote about in The Munich Eye after attending the memorial: Flags at half staff for the victims of the 1972 attacks. Notice how respectfully I tried to deal with it without getting overly political. Of course, I’m aware I could be emotional on the topic. I decided my blog was where I’d make my editorial comments.


  1. You need to start from the principle that nothing that happens in the Middle East makes sense. From that perspective, it’s hard to criticise people who don’t know how to react.
    If the point was to stop the Olympics – or even if that was just what the organisers thought – then you can understand their actions.
    And if we are to try to adopt a principled stand, then why would any country attend the Olympics anyway? You’ve only got to have a look at the massive roads the Chinese Government built across Africa in exchange for votes to realise the whole thing is corrupt.
    The olympics are flawed, Israel and Palestine are flawed, Germany is flawed: all because humanity is flawed. And we all draw the line, but sometimes, especially in the middle of all; no-one knows where the line is.
    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.
    -From a speech given by Martin Niemöller on January 6, 1946

  2. We have teams? Ok, fine, but I’m really uncoordinated so I hope you aren’t relying on me to make goals or anything.

    As I mentioned on my blog a while back, I hadn’t heard about the massacre until recently. Once I did, I devoured everything I could get my hands on about it, because I found it fascinating. (Not GOOD fascinating. I’m not a ghoul.)

    Two of the things I found the most fascinating, and that I couldn’t stop thinking about, you mentioned.

    1., that they continued the games. I assume they thought it would be a disservice to the other athletes who’d worked so hard if they stopped the games? A precursor to the “if we do ____, the terrorists win” mindset we saw in the States right after 9/11? Whatever the reasoning, it didn’t sit right with me. I’m honestly curious what the athletes competing thought about the whole thing. I can’t get my hands on “One Day in September” around here for some reason but I’m wondering if other athletes are interviewed. I’d be interested in their point of view on that. I’d like to think they at least thought twice about continuing to compete as if their compatriots hadn’t just been murdered a few feet away.

    2. All I was able to watch was “Munich” which fell short (so so short, I wanted a documentary) but the beginning seemed real enough. They were showing (I think) real news footage. It looks like for a while, the news stations thought the remaining athletes got out ok, and the news station reported that. Then the anchor got the real news, and had to report that, no, actually, none of the athletes survived. So the families had to live through that (again, assuming “Munich” didn’t make that part up…and it might have. That movie was living in a weird dream world, I think, some/most/all of the time) – through the waiting, then hearing they were fine, then, whoops, no, sorry, they aren’t, actually. That killed me. I can’t even imagine having no recourse but to sit around a television countries away from a loved one waiting to see if they were coming home to me or not.

    Things like this upset me. Probably more than they should. I get much too involved.

    I’m going to go buy a Team Lahikmajoe jersey. Or maybe just go to work. Yeah, probably the latter.

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