Opinion

Blood-soaked lessons of the Munich Olympics

The Olympics are supposed to be perhaps the one place where countries set aside all other differences and join together as a community of nations.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog (left) and  German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lay wreaths in memory of the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog (left) and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lay wreaths in memory of the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
Shari Dollinger

Fifty years ago this week—on Sept. 5, 1972—11 Israeli Olympic athletes and coaches were murdered in Munich at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Since then, Europe has come to understand the cruelty of radical Islamic terrorism but failed to absorb its blood-soaked lessons. This has never been as clear as it is today with the continent’s leading powers moving ever closer to historic appeasement of the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism: Iran.

With the support of and at the direction of the Iranian regime, Tehran’s primary agent of death—Hezbollah—has repeatedly launched terrorist attacks on European soil. In 1985, Hezbollah bombed a restaurant near the U.S. Air Force base in Madrid killing seven Spanish civilians and injuring 82 other people, including 11 Americans. That same year, Hezbollah terrorists hijacked a TWA flight headed from Athens to Rome, executing in cold blood a member of the United States Navy. More recently, Hezbollah terrorists bombed a bus in Bulgaria filled with Israeli tourists, killing five and injuring 32.

For a brief time, Europe’s approach to combating Iranian-backed terror appeared to be headed in the right direction. In 2020, both the United Kingdom and Germany banned Hezbollah in its entirety. Though French leadership still clings to the fiction that there is a distinction between Hezbollah’s so-called military and political wings, they along with the European Union, have at least partially banned Hezbollah.

Tehran is not content to fully outsource its terrorist operations though. In 2018, Iranian agents attempted to bomb an Iranian dissidents’ meeting in Paris where former U.S. officials and hundreds of civilians were meeting. This resulted in the arrest of a Viennese-based Iranian diplomat in Germany, as well as several other Iranian operatives. That same year, Danish authorities foiled another Iranian terror attack on their soil.

This is far from a comprehensive list, and it doesn’t mention the numerous attacks on Americans, including the hundreds of Iran-backed attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, or the 1983 bombings of the U.S. embassy and U.S. military barracks in Beirut. The Beirut attacks killed 341 people, including 58 French military personnel and hundreds of Americans. Nor does this list mention the attempted terror attacks Iran has sought to commit on U.S. soil, including bombings, murder-for-hire plots and kidnappings.

European leaders know that the potential renewed Iran nuclear accord – which ignores Tehran’s support for terror and human rights abuses – will only embolden the Islamic Republic both at home and abroad, putting more lives at risk. Moreover, these same European leaders know that Iran, which under the deal will very soon have full access to conventional weapons on the open market, will only increase its efforts to spread death and terror throughout the world. And they also know that under the terms of the reported deal, all restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities would end in 2030. In other words, Europe’s leaders know full well that in this deal, they are imperiling their own people.

What we hold sacred, radical Islamists demonize. The Olympics are supposed to be perhaps the one place where countries set aside all other differences and join together as a community of nations, yet just a few short decades after the Holocaust, it was at these world games, on German soil, that jihadists chose to murder innocent Israelis. And now, five decades later, Germany and the other European powers are poised to embolden the world’s foremost terrorist state.

Commemorating horrific moments in history has real value, but we dishonor the dead—from Munich to Beirut to Tel Aviv—when we forget the lessons their losses have taught us.

Modern European history lays bare the consequences of appeasing a radical regime with hegemonic ambitions or terrorists with a gun to the heads of innocents. Given Europe’s experiences with both fascism and terrorism, perhaps Berlin, London and Paris should rethink their capitulation to a fascist-terrorist regime.

Shari Dollinger is the co-executive director of Christians United for Israel.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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