I will join Mr. Costas, a righteous and moral man, and strongly urge all Atlas readers to do the same and tell your friends. Muslim countries have forbidden a moment of silence, as their sanction for the Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympic team. It is utterly depraved and immoral.
Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it. Withdraw your sanction.
"A Newsman's Olympic Stand" David Feith Wall Sreet Journal, July 21, 2012
The NBC veteran has revealed that his broadcast of the July 27 opening ceremony will include a minute of silence for the 11 Israeli Olympians murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Games 40 years ago—a minute of silence that the International Olympic Committee has refused to arrange on its own. Mr. Costas explained to Hollywood Reporter magazine: "I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive." So he'll tell viewers "here's a minute of silence right now." Judging from the 2008 ceremony, 35 million Americans could be watching.
Mr. Costas is hardly alone in finding the Munich killings worthy of commemoration. Others who have spoken up include President Barack Obama ("absolutely," the White House said Thursday), all U.S. senators, every Australian and Canadian parliamentarian, Germany's foreign minister and some 100,000 online petitioners. But none has shaken the IOC from its decades-long refusal—and none has Mr. Costas's opportunity to impose an unofficial but almost uniquely high-profile minute of silence.
The IOC, for its part, contends that it is simply upholding Olympic tradition. "The [slain athletes'] families were repeatedly told by long-time IOC President Juan Samaranch that the Olympic movement avoided political issues," historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote in Tablet magazine this week. "He seemed to have forgotten that at the 1996 opening ceremony he spoke about the Bosnian war. Politics were also present at the 2002 games, which opened with a minute of silence for the victims of 9/11." And 9/11, though certainly worthy of commemoration, didn't involve the murder of Olympic athletes in their Olympic Village hotel rooms.
To be sure, the IOC is upholding tradition in treating the Munich massacre as a mild nuisance best forgotten. This tradition dates back to the day of the attack, when officials agreed to suspend competition only after an international outcry, nearly 12 hours after the Israelis were first killed or taken hostage. "The Games must go on," IOC President Avery Brundage said the next day, and countries' flags weren't to be flown at half-mast because 10 Arab nations had objected. Ever since, the case against a minute of silence has rested largely on fears of an Arab boycott. (As it happens, the IOC includes an Israeli who argues against a moment of silence on just those grounds.)
The Munich attack was an unprecedented media event—likely more so than its perpetrators could have even dreamed, as it unfolded over almost 24 hours of live television. It ended with now-famous words from Jim McKay of ABC News: "Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They've now said that there were 11 hostages—two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They're all gone."
Before his 2008 death, McKay spoke often about Munich, sometimes alongside relatives of the slain athletes. ("That day was the end of innocence in sports," he wrote in 2002.) Now Bob Costas takes up McKay's admirable tradition—before tens of millions of TV viewers.
Mr. Feith is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.
Previously at Atlas: Muslims Barred IOC from Honoring Murdered Israelis