Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

The University of Michigan Library provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes. These materials may be under copyright. If you decide to use any of these materials, you are responsible for making your own legal assessment and securing any necessary permission. If you have questions about the collection, please contact the Bentley Historical Library at bentley.ref@umich.edu

September 16, 1988 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-09-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ed the exclusion of Israel, telling Ted
Koppel on "Nightline": "We can't
solve all the problems of the world."
These events all had the symbolic
effect of reinforcing the image
cultivated by the Arabs that Israel is
a pariah nation. All of those incidents
were relatively trivial, however, corn-
pared to the Munich massacre. That
single event may have had more im-
pact on sports and on global politics
than any other instance of politics
and sports intermingling.
It was 4:30 in the morning on
Sept. 5, 1972 when five Arab ter-
rorists wearing track sweat suits
climbed the six-foot six-inch fence sur-
rounding the Olympic Village.
Although they were seen by several
people, no one thought anything was
unusual since athletes routinely hop-
ped the fence; moreover, the ter-
rorists' weapons were hidden in
athletic bags. These five were met by
three more men who are presumed to
have obtained credentials to enter the

Politics have cast a pall over the Olympic

Just before five, the Arabs knock-
ed on the door of Israeli wrestling
coach Moshe Weinberg. When
Weinberg opened the door he realiz-
ed there was something wrong and
shouted a warning to his comrades.

He and weightlifter Joseph Romano
attempted to block the door while
other Israelis escaped, but they were
killed by the terrorists. The Arabs
then succeeded in rounding up nine
Israelis to hold as hostages.
At 9:30, the terrorists announced
that they were Palestinians and
demanded that Israel release 200
Arab prisoners and that the terrorists
be given safe passage out of
After hours of tense negotiations,
the Palestinians, who it was later
learned belonged to a PLO faction
called Black September, agreed to a
plan whereby they were to be taken
by helicopter to the NATO air base at
Firstenfeldbruck where they would
be given an airplane to fly them and
their hostages to Cairo. The Israelis
were then taken by bus to the heli-
copters and flown to the airfield. In
the course of the transfer, the Ger-
mans discovered that there were
eight terrorists instead of the five
they expected and realized that they
had not assigned enough marksmen
to carry out the plan to kill the ter-
rorists at the airport.
After the helicopters landed at
the air base around 10:30 p.m., the
German sharpshooters attempted to
kill the terrorists and a bloody
firefight ensued. At 11, the media was
mistakenly informed that the
hostages had been saved and the
news was announced to a relieved
Israeli public. Almost an hour later,
however, new fighting broke out and
one o e helicopters holding the
Isra is as blown up by a terrorist
grena e. The remaining hostages in
the secvd helicopter were shot to
death by one of the surviving
n7,7-&- awn and teary-eyed
Jim McKay, who had been reporting
the drama throughout the day as part
of ABC's Olympic coverage, announc-
ed: "They're all gone."
Five of the terrorists were killed
along with one policeman, and three
were captured. A little over a month
later, on Oct. 29, a Lufthansa jet was
hijacked by terrorists damanding
that the Munich killers be released.
The Germans capitulated and the ter-
rorists were let go, but an Israeli
assassination squad was assigned to
track them down along with those

Israel has been
boycotted or
excluded in table
tennis, volleyball,
chess and tennis
matches in Asia
and India.

A PLO terrorist in the Olympic Village in
Munch, 1972.

constructed on the UCLA campus for
the 1984 Games was a veritable for-
tress surrounded by double rows of
barbed wire and patrolled by 7,000
armed Los Angeles police officers,
almost one per athlete. In addition,
unarmed guards in khaki uniforms
checked identification cards of
everyone moving in or out of the
village. Extra security precautions
were extended to delegations which
were believed to be the most likely
targets of attack, that is, Israel,
Turkey, and Libya.
The Munich massacre had an
even more profound impact on inter-
national relations because it helped
place the so-called "Palestinian ques-
One consequence of Munich has tion" higher on the diplomatic agen-
been to force the sponsors of interna-
Although Yassir Arafat and his
tional sporting events to be security henchmen were exposed as murderers
conscious to a far greater extent than of innocent people, the PLO leader
ever contemplated. At Munich, there was invited to address the United Na-
had been no armed police surround- tions and became an international
ing the Olympic Village, partially celebrity. The PLO became the "sole
because of the improbability of a ter- legitimate represenative" of the
rorist incident, but also because of the Palestinians and has been recognized
German efforts to show the world the by more nations than Israel.
changes in Germany since World War
It has also been recognized by at
II. They did not want .anyone to feel least 10 sports federations such as the
like they were in a police state. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), which
Israelis warned the Germans of granted the PLO provisional member-
potential dangers, but they dismissed ship in 1986 and has intimated that
these warnings as hypersensitivity. it might allow a PLO team to par-
By contrast, the Olympic Village ticipate in the 1990 Asian Games in

responsible for planning the
massacre. According to George Jonas
in Vengeance, eight of the 11 men
targeted for death were killed. Of the
remaining three, one died of natural
causes and the other two were
assassinated, but it is not known for
sure if they were killed by Israeli
The massacre of 11 Israeli
athletes was not considered suffi-
ciently serious to merit canceling or
postponing the Olympics. "In-
credibly, they're going on with it,"
Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times
wrote at the time. "It's almost like
having a dance at Dachau."



Back to Top

© 2021 Regents of the University of Michigan