This is in response to Eliav Appelbaum’s column “Don’t Forget the Olympic Athletes Who Died in ’72” (Daily Nexus, Feb. 8). At first I was not quite sure whether or not to write this response but re-reading his column I cannot stay silent in face of such inflammatory and substandard journalism.
His plea that we not forget the victims of Sept. 11 gets lost in his comparison of the Palestinian attack on Jewish athletes at the Munich games in 1972 to the Holocaust. The fact that the Olympic games were held in Germany compelled him to make a convenient comparison to the Holocaust. Let me quote: “Not six miles away on the airfield of F[Ÿ]rstenfeldbruck” (next time, please get the spelling right, Mr. Appelbaum), “the smoldering ashes of Dachau’s concentration camp lingered.” Great attention-getter, but what exactly does Mr. Appelbaum try to introduce? The story of the Dachau concentration camp? He further makes an analogy that implies a continuity from the genocide to the Munich killings: “History has a way of repeating itself through those who forget,” as it seems to have taken only “30 years after the Holocaust [that] Jews again were slaughtered on German soil.”
What is your concern, Mr. Appelbaum, that people died or where they died? Was this Palestinian attack in any way connected to the Holocaust? Ideologically there is no affinity between these two acts, nor should the proportion of the Holocaust be relativized by comparing it to this heinous, yet “smaller” act of brutality.
Furthermore, to insinuate that Germany “didn’t want to focus on the tragedy happening in its own backyard” because of latent anti-Semitism (I say that because, once again, Eliav sets up a parallel between Munich and the Holocaust as Germany “tried to forget its savagery during the Holocaust.” He characterizes memory repression of the Holocaust as a conscious anti-Semitic act and sees it manifested again in Munich) is right out slanderous. If you use such leading arguments, please, Mr. Appelbaum, follow it up with evidence. Do not resort to buttressing your statement by quoting International Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage and claim that he represented “Germany.” Just to inform the reader, you wrote that he “declared with a raised fist (thanks for the hit-me-over-the-head symbolism, Mr. Appelbaum), ‘The Games must go on!'” Admittedly, Brundage was an important person, but he is not German, nor should you assume that all of “Germany” shared his sentiments.
The greatest disservice to the journalistic profession, though, is Eliav’s emotionally loaded statement that he cared to italicize: “As for the Jews – send them home in coffins. This time they weren’t gassed and burned, they were shot and blown away by PLO fanatics.” That style of writing is reminiscent of cheap, fin-de-si