New Yorker Starts Petition to Encourage IOC to Observe Moment of Silence During Olympic Closing Ceremonies

When the International Olympics Committee (IOC) refused to honor the victims of the 1972 Munich massacre with a moment of silence, during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics, many protested against the decision.

In Greater New York, JCC Rockland began a petition, hoping to gain enough signatures to convince the IOC to reconsider its decision.

Joel Leyden, President of Leyden Digital PR, noticed the petition, but, he told Jewocity, “At first I didn’t think much of it.” There was “a disconnect’, he said, because the massacre had taken place 40 years ago. Nevertheless, Leyden said he did some research and re-watched the movie “21 Hours at Munich” which jogged his memory.
“As a PR professional, media consultant to the Israeli government and as a journalist, I knew that this petition was important,” he said.

The JCC Rockland petition gained a great deal of support. Indeed, according to Leyden, “The JCC Rockland and relatives of the Munich 11 did a fantastic job in securing over 100,000 signatures on their petition.” Furthermore, according to The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, many high profile groups and figures joined in the campaign. Among these were US president Barack Obama, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and Australian Julia Gillard.

The IOC, however, stood by its refusal and the Olympic ceremonies began and ended without a moment of silence. This did not deter Leyden.

“I realized that two mistakes had been made with the original petition,” he said.
First, he said, “There was no way that the IOC would have jeopardized having between 40-50 Arab nations boycott the Olympics following the Opening Ceremony. It could have destroyed the Games. Even though this would be giving into Arab terrorism and blackmail, it was not a realistic goal.”

However, he asked, if the IOC recognized a moment of silence during the closing ceremonies of the games, “What would the Arabs have done? Boycott?” A boycott, he said, would not matter. “They would be leaving home the next day, anyway!”

So Leyden contacted the JCC Rockland and suggested that they continue with their efforts by putting pressure on the IOC to observe a moment of silence during the closing ceremony of the Olympics instead.

According to Leyden, the second mistake with the original petition “was that they should have used the movie `21 Hours at Munich’ in their awareness campaign.” He said that nothing was a more powerful tool for PR than a major motion picture. Leyden also stressed the importance of perseverance in internet campaigns.

“As all media and Internet viral campaigns you start off with a handful of signatures, but if you work it non-stop with the cooperation of a few others, you can succeed,” he said, noting that he had seen this sort of success before, because he had “created the Support the IDF in Gaza Against Terrorism page on Facebook,” which he said gained “over 100,000 signatures.”

Leyden said that if the new petition reached over 1,000 signatures, that he would “request the Israeli Ambassador to the UK present this petition formally to IOC President Jacques Rogge.”

If Rogge continues to deny a moment of silence for the victims of the Munich massacre,” when presented with so many signatures, said Leyden “Then we will know that it was not the threat of Arabs boycotting the Olympics but rather blatant anti-Semitism.”

Finally, he said, “Should we not achieve a minute of silence honoring the memories of the terror victims of the Munich Massacre at the Closing Ceremonies; we still would have kept alive their memories throughout these London Games.”

The Athletes, Leyden says, “They gave their lives for Israel, for democracy and the spirit of peace for which the Olympics represent.” There is, he said, “No greater sacrifice.”

The petition, which is located at (, has already gained 94 signatures.

Filed Under: Politics


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Miranda Flint About the Author: Miranda has a B.A. in political science and has worked over a decade as a news reporter, financial news writer and political blogger. More about Miranda

RSSComments (8)

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  1. Shai says:

    Lets get this out there. please share this with your friends!

  2. Brian says:

    Great cause I hope this catches fire!! Great job Joel!

  3. I’ll support this petition – as I did the main one – but no, I don’t think it will be nearly as effective at closing as it would have been at the opening. The Opening Ceremony entrance is usually much more dignified than the closing, which is often a big party. They should also be in synch with Anke Spitzer on this. Did they consult with her?

    Two corrections: IOC stands for International Olympic Committee, and while he may be a rogue (and I have no respect for the guy), the IOC President’s last name is “Rogge.” Was that a Freudian slip?

  4. Shai says:

    Good point Matt but at this point this is all we can hope for.

  5. I appreciate your efforts, Joel, and just signed. I have been vocal – in my Jewocity columns and elsewhere – in support of the original petition and criticism of the IOC.

    Shai, I guess this is the best, for now, that can be hoped for, and I hope it’s successful. (I would feel a little better if I knew that it did have the support of Anke Spitzer, as apparently she will keep pursuing this – as well she should!)

  6. Isaac says:

    Of course, Rogges and the IOC capitulated to a threatened boycott. But this is nothing new for the IOC, which has a history of making (what are really) political decision that contradict the Olympic spirit under the veil of “avoiding politics.” The following article is worth reading. “Politics and the Olympic Spirit: A Minute for Munich.”

  7. DaveA says:

    Nations have boycotted the Olympics in the past (1980 & 1984), and we don’t see that the games were “irreparably damaged.”

    I don’t see “the rogue” and the other cowardly IOC members now agreeing to do something that they have consistently and wickedly refused to do at any Olympic ceremony. Thus, I fear that we are beginning to demean ourselves by beating our heads against a brick wall with yet another hopeless petition. As far as they are concerned, nothing has changed, and they will continue to refuse all calls for remembering the Munich 11.

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