Do Only Some Massacres Matter?


The Washington Post has published a moving article, “Russian Jews remember Israeli athletes murdered at 1972 Munich Olympic Games.” Unfortunately, it gets a few things wrong and provides a one-sided context for the tragedy.

Allow me to correct the report and fill in a few of the missing facts.

Just 23 years before the Olympic incident, Israel had been created through ethnically cleansing much of the indigenous Palestinian population.

This had been accomplished through at least 33 massacres and was maintained in the years following by still more acts of ethnic cleansing and additional massacres. (These included areas from which the Munich kidnappers came).

Five years before the Munich incident, Israel violently conquered even more Palestinian land (illegal under international law), pushing out another 325,000+ Palestinian men, women, and children, and killing at least 13,000 Arabs in all. About 800 Israelis died.

The violence continued, and beginning in 1968 Israeli forces repeatedly savaged 150 or more towns and villages in south Lebanon alone. By the time of the Munich Olympics, Israel held hundreds of prisoners in its notorious prison system.

It is widely known, but rarely stated, that the goal of the Munich hostage-taking was not to kill them; it was to return the athletes to Israel in return for Israel returning its Palestinian prisoners.

Many of these prisoners were also young people, and, if we could have seen them, they might have looked very much like the Israeli athletes, minus the physical health. Israel is not known for its merciful treatment of those it dislikes.

When the Israeli government refused to consider an exchange, the German police, with the Mossad at hand, were pushed into an ill-planned rescue attempt in which some of the hostages (no one knows how many) were killed accidentally by the police, and a German policeman was also killed.

The day after the botched and unnecessary “rescue,” Israel launched heavy air attacks against Lebanon and Syria, killing between 200 and 500 Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, mostly civilians.

While Washington Post reporter Kathy Lally gives a great deal of information about the position of Russian Jews, going back over 100 years, it would have been valuable for her to tell a little about what the Munich incident was about – and about all the tragic victims of violence connected to the event, not just the 11 preferred ones.

Alison Weir is the executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of the upcoming history of US-Israel relations, Against Our Better Judgment, to be released next month.


Alison Weir is executive director of  If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. An excerpt of her book was published in the March 21-23, 2014 issue of CounterPunch. Upcoming book talks can be seen on the book’s website.

November 26, 2015
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration