First-ever memorial at UN held for victims of 1972 Munich games massacre

Forty-four years after 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Olympic games in Munich, the UN finally hosted an event commemorating the tragedy.

With the Olympic Games set to open in Rio de Janeiro this weekend, the Israeli mission to the United Nations (UN) on Thursday held the first-ever memorial event at the UN to honor the Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In his speech at the event, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said that “the Olympic games should represent hope and peace, and a world without war and hatred.  This hope was shattered during the Munich Olympics when terrorists infiltrated the Olympic village and struck at one of the world’s few sources world of unity – athletics.”

He noted that “today we are lighting the torch that was extinguished in Munich.  A torch of hope, which will shine brightly against those who incite to terrorism and violence.  We will never let terror win.”

Michal Shahar, the daughter of slain Olympic shooting coach Kehat Shorr, addressed the gathering.

In her remarks, Shahar noted that “the evil and terror that killed my father and the other Israeli athletes has only increased since that terrible day forty-four years ago.  The UN, like the Olympics, represents the hope that the nations of the world will work together for a better future.”

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She said she sees the recent wave of Islamic attacks in Israel and Europe and hopes “that my words today will encourage all countries to put politics aside, and unite against terrorism.”

One Day in September

Ambassadors from around the world, senior UN officials and Jewish community leaders took part in the event that included a screening of “One Day in September,” which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2000.

On September 5, 1972, a day before the Olympic Games were to begin in Munich, eight Palestinian terrorists killed two members of the Israeli team and took nine others hostage.

The terrorists, members of Black September, a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), demanded the release of 234 Palestinians being held in Israeli prison and safe passage out of Germany.

The attack began just after 4 a.m., when the terrorists jumped over the six-foot-high fence that surrounded the Olympic Village, where the athletes were sound asleep, and headed straight for the Israelis dorms. Some fought back and others escaped.

An hour later, police were alerted and the news made headlines around the world. By 5 p.m., after a day of negotiations, the Germans organized a rescue plan to rescue the hostages, but failed. In the gunfight that ensued, five terrorists and all nine hostages died.

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The following day, a memorial service for the murdered Israeli athletes was held, but the games continued nonetheless.

“Incredibly, they’re going on with it,” commented Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times. “It’s almost like having a dance at Dachau,” he wrote at the time, referring to the infamous Nazi concentration camp situated about 20 miles from Munich.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News