TORONTO — The State of Israel has learned two lessons from the murder of 11 Israeli coaches and athletes by Palestinian terrorists 40 years ago at the Olympics in Munich, says Yossi Tanuri, Jerusalem-based director general of UIA Federations Canada.
They are that there’s no place to hold the Olympics that is safe for Israelis, and that Israelis do not depend on anyone else for their safety, Tanuri told 100 UJA Federation of Greater Toronto staff members at a commemoration July 27.
Speaking at a brief ceremony at the Lipa Green Centre on the opening day of the London Games, he said that every Israeli child knows about Munich.
He tells his own children that they are part of a larger community. “The Olympic Games were supposed to symbolize that. This is where all nations, colours and religions get together to play, and to challenge each other,” he said.
“In that particular spot of harmony and togetherness happened one of the worst times in the history of the State of Israel, the Jewish people, and also of world sports.”
Tanuri said he learned recently that Munich was the impetus for former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to launch the raid on Entebbe in 1976. Entebbe, in turn, was one of Tanuri’s own motivations to join the IDF unit that took part in the rescue there.
Jeff Springer, the federation’s senior vice-president of corporate affairs, read a prayer in memory of the athletes. He noted that the International Olympic Committee, “despite heavy pressure, refused to hold a moment of silence during the games’ opening ceremonies.” A moment of silence was observed as part of the federation commemoration.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of Hatikvah as pictures of 2004 Olympic windsurfing gold medalist Gal Friedman were shown on a large screen – a reminder, according to Taali Lester Tollman, the federation’s vice-president of marketing, that “Israel’s Olympic history has also reached great heights.”