Joe Allen via Crowdrise
October 13, 2012
BENEFITING: JCC ROCKLAND INC
EVENT DATE: Mar 16, 2013
“20 Million Minutes” is the story of one community’s efforts to remember the 11 Israeli Olympians killed by terror in Munich, 1972.
Over one three-day stretch this summer, there were more than 10,000 articles, electronic media pieces, opinions and blogs around the world about the Munich 11 and the Minute of Silence petition. This is a story that has struck a nerve around the globe and governments as well as individuals have demanded that the International Olympic Committee recognize the Munich 11 victims with a minute of silence during the opening of its games.
We hand-delivered a petition, originated by the JCC in Rockland County, NY, containing more than 111,000 signatures from 155 countries to IOC head Jacques Rogge demanding they observe a minute of silence at the opening of the games in the memory of the Munich 11.
While it didn't happen in London, what did happen around the world was even more impressive. The march to Rio 2016 has already begun. People everywhere who may have long forgotten the Munich 11 know about them now.
It was a moment in history that changed everything…
It was the second week of the 1972 Munich Olympics, a fortnight filled with splendid competition, comradeship and a purposefully relaxed atmosphere designed to counteract the memory of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Without warning, though, they suddenly became the world stage for the most unimaginable and horrific events.
The morning of September 5, 1972 revealed terrorism, still new to most Americans, in its most frightening form. The image of a masked gunman on the balcony outside the rooms of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches embodied violence and cruelty. They listed a set of demands that could not be logically met nor successfully negotiated. The pre-dawn attack by the terrorist group “Black September” upon the Israeli delegation killed two and took nine hostages, all surprised as they slept.
The Israeli Olympic delegation voiced concerns about the relatively remote location of its team’s housing, and others observed that security was casual. However, few could envision an event that would shake the foundation of what the Olympics was all about…humanity playing peacefully together on a level field.
After many tense hours of negotiation, a deal was cut that would fly the terrorists and their hostages out of Munich and off to Cairo. However, a poorly conceived rescue plan, which accompanied the deal, was implemented to try and save the hostages and shoot the terrorists. The plan never fully materialized and, in fact, some German commandos just walked away from the mission, while others never received any orders to act at all. Israeli officials offered to assist with trained Special Forces. The German government rebuffed them.
As darkness overtook the airport, the nine terrorists realized the deal was a ruse. Shots were fired, chaos ensued and as a result there was a tragic explosion and fire. In the end, the nine remaining Munich 11 hostages were either shot to death or died in the explosion.
ABC announcer Jim McKay, thrust by fate into the position of lead anchor, had these emotional and yet so dignified words:
When I was a kid, my father used to say, "Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized." Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They’ve now said that there were eleven hostages. Two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning; nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.”
With a simple, nearly imperceptible shake of his head, McKay succeeded in freezing humanity for a moment and made sure nobody would ever forget what happened at the Munich Olympics.
But the sad truth is that many people have forgotten what happened there. More than half of the US population was born after Munich and did not experience the terror we all witnessed. Many people who were middle aged the night the attack took place are elderly now. I was 21, totally devoted to sports and especially the Olympics. I can still feel every moment as the events unfolded.
JCC Rockland is one organization keeping the memory of the Munich 11 alive-- through its JCC Maccabi Games, the Minute of Silence petition and its close relationship with victims’ family members and communities in Israel.
The JCC Maccabi Games have always been linked to the Munich 11. When the games were recently held in Rockland County, it marked the 40th anniversary of that tragedy. The Olympics in London brought even greater attention on the failure of the IOC to properly remember its own victims 40 years prior. It remains the goal of JCC Rockland that the International Olympic Committee finally agree to do what it has never done—hold a minute of silence at the Olympic Games for the Munich 11. If they do, it will immortalize the athletes forever in the hearts of all peace loving people and send a signal that their lives mattered, all lives matter.
In order to help keep the memory of the Munich 11 alive, I am producing a documentary on the efforts of the JCC Rockland—with huge hearts and bigger plans— to keep their memory alive. What began as a long shot—a true David versus Goliath story came really, really close to taking place and we’re telling the story of what happened.
Can You Help Us Do It?
Most of the funds needed to produce the documentary have been raised and we are seeking donations of as little as $3,000 all the way to the remaining sum of $15,000 to finish the documentary and help bring this story to light.
The documentary follows the efforts of the JCC to get the IOC to recognize the athletes and the terrorist attack that led to their deaths. That includes the trip to London this summer to personally deliver the Minute of Silence petition containing 111,000 names from 155 countries to Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, to demand the minute of silence. We’re accomplishing that through interviews with people who have been doing the real work of getting them recognition. Close to 50 people have been interviewed, including elected officials both in the US and Israel, JCC members, families of the victims, historical footage, witnesses and other professionals. The documentary will forever be a part of the JCC Rockland community and the world community, but we can’t do it without your help.
I hope you can participate in this project with us. There have been more than 20 million minutes since Munich. All we’re asking for is one.
Thank you for your consideration.