Monday, August 06, 2012

I can't tell if Avi Safran is happy or sad that the IOC refused to honor the Munich dead with a moment of silence.

I can't tell if Avi Safran is happy or sad that the IOC refused to honor the Munich dead with a moment of silence. His article and my commentary after the jump. What do you think?

Is this a play on the famous charity song from the late 80s? And what does it mean to say that we're "not" the world?  

Chanukah is far from most minds these days, understandably. And yet symbols of the societal showdown that yielded its commemoration lie before us.

The societal showdown that the Greeks won, I must add. Within two generations the famous Maccabee family was entirely Hellenized and by the time the Mishna was written you had card-carrying Tannaim arguing that the Greek language was co-holy. 

In a particularly conspicuous “we run and they run” display, the 2012 Summer Olympics—whose roots lie in the ancient Greek games, where religious sacrifices to mythical gods

Arguably, our own Jewish rites have the same roots. Or did you think it a coincidence that every ancient middle-eastern religion featured animal sacrifice? If you're going to link the Summer Olympics, in their modern incarnation, to ancient pagan worship, honesty demands you make the same connection between ancient pagan worship and the Musaf service recited every Shabbos. 

 accompanied sporting events—opened mere days before the world-wide celebration of the Daf Yomi Siyum HaShas.

As a large crowd in London wildly cheered displays of physical prowess, 
a stadium an ocean away— itself usually used for running and throwing and catching—became a point of convergence for a large crowd of Jews intent on honoring Torah and its study.

I know for a fact that some of those Jews were following the Olympics on their mobile divices and watching the Olympics on the TVs in their luxury boxes.. 

 (There were large Siyum HaShas gatherings as well, of course, in Britannia, as well in innumerable locations around the globe.)

Britain. Britannia is the female personification of the island, not a place. And if you're going to point out that some Brits were celebrating the siyum during the Olympic orgy, you might as well note that many Jews were following the Olympics during the siyum itself.  Remember what I said up top about how the Greeks won?

The close to 100,000 Jews gathered at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on August 1 were honoring people too: Jewish men who, in a demanding endurance test of their own, had applied themselves to “learning Shas”—studying the entirety of the Babylonian Talmud—over seven and a half years. 

What about the Jewish women who also finished Shas? Surely there were some....

And their invaluable coaches, the wives and children whose encouragement and personal sacrifices allowed those “Shas Yidden” to run their personal marathons.

I don't want to speak for the women, so let me ask: Do you find this sort of lip service to be condescending?

If the confluence of the two diametric events weren’t striking enough, there was the message sent by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge’s refusal to devote a moment at the Olympiad’s opening ceremonies to recall the eleven Israeli athletes and coaches killed 40 years ago during the Munich Olympics.

Let's take a moment to explain Rogge's motives:  He was trying to avoid antagonizing the Arab nations and precipitating a walk-out. Now I think Rogge should have taken that risk, and allowed anyone who wanted to be pissed of by a memorial to dead athletes to be pissed off. But as Jews know, sometimes we put the system ahead of individuals. Make no mistake, Rogge was wrong. But its odd to see a prominent system-defender like Avi Shafran disagreeing. 

Those of us who had become fully sentient by 1972 remember the drama vividly. It was the second week of the Munich Summer Olympics. Eight Arab terrorists (“militants,” in current journalistic jargon) 

Google News, at this moment,  returns over 4000 current articles that use the word "terrorist" and fewer than 1000 with the word "militant." Avi needs to update his complaints. 

penetrated the Olympic Village and took the Israelis hostage. Two Jews were murdered by their captors there and the nine others on an airport tarmac after German police botched a rescue attempt.

Olympic competition was suspended for a day and then a memorial service was held in the Olympic Stadium. Then-IOC President Avery Brundage spoke, averring that “Every civilized person recoils in horror at the barbarous criminal intrusion of terrorists into the peaceful Olympic precincts,” declaring that “we mourn our Israeli friends, victims of this brutal assault,” and bemoaning how the Games had become a place for such things.

Then, he added, famously, that “a handful of terrorists” cannot be allowed “to destroy this nucleus of international cooperation and goodwill we have in the Olympic movement,” and announced that “The Games must go on!” to the loud applause of the crowd.

Didn't Saint Mayor Giuliani and Saint President Bush utter a similar sentiment after 9/11. Weren't we concerned that the terrorists would win if we stopped shopping? So, other than that fact that he's a liberal who works for the IOC, why was Brundage wrong to make the same point?

The current IOC president was asked to mark the forty year anniversary of the Munich Massacre with a moment of silence during the Olympics’ opening ceremonies. The Israeli foreign minister backed the idea, unsurprisingly, but so too did the German Bundestag, members of the Canadian and Australian parliaments, about 50 members of the British Parliament, and about 140 members of Italy’s parliament. As well as the US Senate and House Foreign Affairs Committee. And President Obama.

Mr. Rogge, however, declined the request, saying that other ceremonies at other times would include remembrances of the murdered athletes, but the opening ceremony of the Olympics was just not an appropriate venue for the injection of a memorial moment of silence.

Which was horse crap, as the opening ceremony contained not one, but two moments of silence. The first was for anyone who died in any war, but especially those who died during the two World Wars (arguably the Munich martyrs were included in this.) and the second was “to respect our memorial wall for friends and family of those in the stadium that cannot be here tonight." 

A well-known sportscaster, Bob Costas, disapprovingly noted the IOC’s decision and then paused on-air for a full 10 seconds—an interminable time for electronic media—during the opening ceremonies.

Unclear. See this On the other hand, New York Magazine says he was silent for 12 seconds. 

Good for Mr. Costas, and not so good for Mr. Rogge (though he seems like a nice fellow who just felt the need to maintain the opening ceremonies’ pomp and joy, unmolested by difficult memories). 

Really? Rogge is a nice fellow?

And good for those of us, I say, who don’t care a whit about the IOC or the Olympics, who recognize that Jews don’t need the world to validate us or commemorate what some parts of it have done to us

Really? Five paragraphs in you don't "give a whit?"

—and continue to do to us, as was most recently evident a mere two weeks ago in Burgas, Bulgaria, where five Israelis were killed and more than 30 injured when a tourist bus was targeted by a bomber.

For my part, I’ll take the roar of Kri’as Shma at a Siyum HaShas over anyone’s moment of silence.

So readers, do you believe him? As I say, I am not sure. 

Search for more information about Siyum Hashas  


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