Boycott of Israeli families killed in Munich Olympics anniversary plan

TEL AVIV – The families of 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Munich Olympics said Wednesday they plan to boycott a memorial ceremony in Germany scheduled for September to mark the 50th anniversary of the attack, over a dispute with Germany. Government due to compensation.

The decision will put pressure on Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog, who is scheduled to attend a September 5 ceremony in Munich, to stay away from the event, which aims to heal the wounds of the Black September terror group attack. which shocked Israel and the world.

Germany’s handling of the terrorist attack and its aftermath remains one of the most divisive issues between the two countries since they established full diplomatic relations in 1965 – a relationship already fraught with the Holocaust.

The families have long fought for more compensation for the athletes’ killings, and Israel has argued that Germany failed to adequately protect the athletes and covered up its failures before and after the attack.

The attack took place on September 5, 1972, when eight Palestinian militants jumped over the fence of the Munich Olympic Village, which was guarded only by a few German policemen, according to an official report from Israel’s State Archives. Only two officers were armed. The militants entered an Israeli residence and killed two members of the team before demanding the release of their comrades imprisoned in Israel. Nine other athletes later died, along with a German policeman, in a chaotic rescue attempt.

Anki Spitzer, a representative of the families, said in a meeting with Mr. Herzog that the families considered the compensation offered by Germany a “joke” and that all but one member planned to boycott the ceremony to announce the payment.

The German government said in an internal memo obtained by The New York Times that so far the families have been paid a total of 4.6 million euros, or about $4.8 million, by various German agencies. In a statement Wednesday, Germany’s interior ministry said “confidential talks are currently underway with representatives of the victims’ families,” but did not mention the boycott move.

“We expect that President Herzog will also immediately announce that he will not come,” said Ms. Spitzer, who is the widow of Andrei Spitzer, who coached Israel’s fencing team. “If the families don’t travel, he shouldn’t travel either, because if he is there, even if he wears a crown, it will legitimize this cruel German behavior.”

Mr Herzog and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had phone calls with the families and the German interior ministry, which was responsible for offering compensation, in a failed attempt to resolve the dispute, the families said. and their lawyers, an account supported by Israeli and German officials.

Germany is offering an additional 5.4 million euros to the remaining 23 family members, according to a memorandum from the German government. But lawyers for the families say they are seeking 20 times more than that.

“The level of German state responsibility as we know it now is much wider than what was known between 1972 and 2020,” said Alexander Knoops, a lawyer for the families. “A great deal of evidence has recently come to light which shows that the government has not only failed to protect athletes, but has helped to cover up its failure.

The compensation dispute is a rare conflict between Germany and Israel. Germany has worked hard to be transparent about atonement for its Nazi past and to maintain a special relationship with Israel. For example, Israel is traditionally one of the first foreign trips of new German presidents.

The family’s decision to boycott the event calls into question the participation of an all-Israeli delegation of about 200 people, including members of the Israeli Olympic Committee and Olympic medal-winning athletes, who have said they will not attend. Without families in Munich.

Mr. Herzog has not yet made a decision on the matter and continues to work with the German president to resolve the matter, according to Israeli officials. The Israeli president’s spokesman refused to comment on the issue.

Ms. Spitzer, representing the families, also said Israel had failed to help her and others over the past decade.

“The ties with Germany are very important and probably trump everything else,” he said. But, he added, it is time for Israel to “say publicly what everyone is saying quietly for fear of offending the Germans – it is time to finally compensate the families of the victims for the terrible failure that led to the death of Andrei and the other 10 people.” athletes and for all the lies and cover-ups over the past 50 years.”

At the time of the attack, Israel’s prime minister, Golda Meir, refused to negotiate with the militants but asked to send a special commando unit to free the athletes, but Germany refused, as German officials confirmed in a 2012 documentary. Israel requested that the games be suspended – but this request was also rejected.

Mossad, Israel’s intelligence chief, said he was only allowed to observe the rescue operation and that all his proposals had been rejected by the Germans.

“They did not make the minimum effort to save lives, they did not take the minimum risk to save people, neither theirs nor ours,” Mossad chief Zvi Zamir told government ministers when he returned to Israel. A transcript of the meeting obtained by The New York Times.

The families of the victims have long accused German authorities of hiding documents and bureaucratic difficulties to deny them access to archives and financial compensation.

Recently declassified documents published in German media show that German intelligence had warnings of imminent action against the Olympics but did nothing.

In mid-August 1972, the German embassy in Beirut sent an urgent telegram to Bonn’s foreign ministry warning it of the attack. The telegram was first published in July by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

According to an internal German government memo obtained by The New York Times, the purpose of the Sept. 5 ceremony was to confront “issues of historical reckoning that remain unresolved.” The interior ministry said in a statement that Germany sees the ceremony as “an occasion for a clear political analysis of the events of 1972”.

As part of this effort, Germany plans to create a German-Israel History Commission with full access to all records, “to examine all available sources” and to “scientifically report and evaluate events.” President Steinmeier also planned to accept German responsibility for directing the attack and to announce additional compensation for the families of the victims.

“With these actions, the Federal Republic of Germany fulfills its moral and historical obligation to the victims and their surviving family members,” the memorandum concludes.

Christopher F. on the show Participated from Hannover, Germany.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.