Why I Am Calling for a Minute's Silence to Remember the Munich Massacre

As the Olympic Games come to London, we should mark the anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games - not just to express our solidarity with the victims but also our determination to stand against terrorism.

Tessa Jowell.
Tessa Jowell
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Tessa Jowell.
Tessa Jowell

The ambition behind the Olympic and Paralympic Games has always been more than providing a festival of world class sport, it has been to seek to inspire each generation to build a better and more peaceful world.

We all remember where we were, forty years ago, when 11 Israeli athletes were killed at the massacre at Munich. It was an act of terrorism that was a violation of the Games and all that it represents.

So the reason why this tragedy lives on so much in our collective memory is because it struck against the Olympic vision and everything that the Games stand for.

It was not just an attack on Israeli athletes, but also an attack on the values and spirit of the entire Olympic movement. The memory of this tragedy remains not just with the families of the victims but with the whole of the Olympic family and the world beyond.

Part of the reason London won its bid for the Games was because we are proud of our diversity and tolerance. It’s a city that is home to people from every part of the world, who practice every religion and follow every faith. People from 200 nationalities speak more than 300 languages. Approximately 200,000 Jews live alongside 600,000 Muslims.

In some ways it’s an embodiment of the Olympic ideal, a place where people from different faiths and cultures live in the same neighbourhoods and their children go to the same schools.

Just like the Olympic ideal, we seek to build our city around the values of equality, respect, friendship and courage. Whether Jewish or Muslim, Christian or Hindu, we hope that these shared set of values allow us to recognise how our communities can achieve more together as well as to celebrate our differences. It’s this character that has brought London to embrace the Olympics and everything that it stands for - and reject those who stand against our values.

As the Olympic Games come to London, it is important for us to mark the anniversary of those terrible events at Munich - not just to express our solidarity with the victims but also our determination to stand against terrorism.

That is why the U.K. Labour Party and I are calling for a minute’s silence in the House of Commons. My hope is that this will receive support from every British political party.

Through doing so we can help fulfil the role that our city and our country took on when we agreed to host the Games, whose Charter says that we should "place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

Tessa Jowell is the UK's Shadow Cabinet Minister for the Olympics and London, a Member of Parliament and a Member of the Olympic Board. As Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport she pioneered London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and was Minister for the Olympics from 2005-2009.

The Olympics is being marked, from the London Eye, but will the murder of the Israeli athletes in the 1972 Games?Credit: AP
Black September terrorist during the 1972 takeover of the Israeli delegations quarters at the Munich Olympics.Credit: AP



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