(Communicated by the Deputy Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
At an emotional ceremony that took place today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon returned Eliezer Halfin’s Olympic competitor ID card to his sister, Ms. Rima Goldwasser.
Eliezer Halfin, a wrestler, was among the eleven Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The card had been kept hidden all these years by a German police officer and, after his death, was returned by his son, Holzer Tilmann, to the Israel embassy in Germany. The ceremony took place in the presence of the German ambassador to Israel, Dr. Harald Kindermann, the Deputy Chair of the Israeli Olympic Committee, Aryeh Sieff, and relatives of the murdered athletes: Ilana Romano, widow of Yosef Romano, and Anki Rekhes (Shpitzer), widow of Andrei Shpitzer.
After receiving the card, Ms. Goldwasser emotionally thanked Tilmann, the deputy foreign minister and the German ambassador for the return of the card.
DFM Ayalon spoke at the ceremony and said:
“Even after 40 years, the memory of those murdered in Munich will not be forgotten. That was the lowest point in the history of sport. What Holzer Tilmann, the policeman’s son, has done is a courageous, decent act that closes a circle. From this podium I call on the government of Germany to make every effort to locate other documents that are perhaps being held somewhere, because hundreds of documents are still missing. The return of these documents to the families is more than just a humane gesture; it is of historical importance for perpetuating the event and engraving it on the pages of history.
“While we as a peace-loving, humane people concern ourselves with commemorating the victims, the Palestinian leadership is busy glorifying terrorism and the murderers. When Mohammed “Abu Daoud” Oudeh, one of the masterminds behind the Munich Olympics massacre, died, Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen praised his memory and heritage and called him his wonderful brother and a courageous leader. The Palestinian leadership is busy glorifying terrorism, thereby pushing the chances for reconciliation further away.”
The German ambassador to Israel reinforced Ayalon’s words and spoke out against turning terrorists into Palestinian folk heroes. He called on the Palestinian leadership to stop glorifying terrorism. “Just as terrorism must be combated, the sanctification of terrorism must be combated.”
Ilana Romano, Yosef Romano’s widow, spoke on behalf of the victims’ families: “Over the years, we have been collecting every possible crumb. This is a card that Halfin held in his hand; this is a very emotional moment. I hope more documents will be found and returned to the families.”
The deputy chair of the Israeli Olympic Committee, Aryeh Sieff, stressed the long, so-far-unsuccessful battle to open the Olympic Games with a moment of silence in memory of the eleven members of the Israeli delegation murdered in Munich. DFM Ayalon promised to do everything in his power to help.