By Ayhan UyanikMUNICH, Germany (Reuters) – Victims of the attack on the Israeli team at the 1972 Olympic Games were remembered by Germany and Israel yesterday with a memorial, following a long campaign by their relatives.German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin attended the inauguration of the ‘Munich 1972 massacre memorial’ at Munich’s Olympic Park, 45 years after the attack by Palestinian gunmen.“Relatives of the victims and the state of Israel waited almost half a century for this moment,” Rivlin said. “45 years have passed for an official Israeli delegation to return to this place. The Munich Olympics became the blood Olympics.”Members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage on September 5, 1972, at the poorly secured athletes village by Palestinians from the Black September group.Eleven Israelis, a German policeman as well as five of the Palestinian gunmen died after a standoff at the village and then a nearby airfield, as police rescue efforts failed.The memorial offers some comfort for relatives who have also long demanded a minute’s silence at the Opening Ceremonies of Olympics Games, only to be consistently turned down by the IOC.Steinmeier said it had taken too long for the memorial to be built.“It is high time and we owe it firstly to you, the relatives,” Steinmeier said. “The Olympic village became a place of Palestinian terrorists, a stage for their boundless hatred for Israel. It should never have happened.”Ankie Spitzer, whose fencing coach husband, Andre, was one of the victims, and Ilana Romano, wife of weightlifter Joseph Romano, have waged a decades-long campaign to get a commemoration at the Games’ opening ceremony.“We wanted this memorial. In the years after we heard voices that we Israelis brought war to Germany and the terrorists were hailed as freedom fighters,” Romano said.“That hurt so much but we did not give up. We knew our way was the right one … for the future of our children and the next generations,” she added.The IOC, whose president Thomas Bach was also present, has said opening ceremonies are not the appropriate platform and has instead made other gestures to remember the victims.At last year’s Rio de Janeiro Games the IOC inaugurated the ‘Place of Mourning’, a small park which will be a feature at every Olympics.
September 17, 2020
On Thursday, USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative hosted Gene Simmons at the University Club as a guest speaker for 60 students currently in the program.Path to success · Former KISS star Gene Simmons speaks to Neighborhood Academic Initiative participants at the University Club on Thursday evening about his own experiences facing adversity as an immigrant. – Austin Vogel | Daily TrojanOthers in attendance included Pavel Krapivin, vice president of Warner Bros. and former student of the USC Math, Science and Technology High School, and Kim Thomas-Barrio, executive director of NAI.NAI is a college access and success program with neighborhood students in grades six through 12 in conjunction with the university.“[This program] allows the academic rigor students need and the support families need for first generation college-goers from underrepresented minority groups,” Thomas-Barrios said.Since its first graduating class in 1997, NAI has graduated more than 700 students. Forty percent of those graduates attended USC with a full four-and-a-half year scholarship package, not including loans.“All of this is in a neighborhood where about 50 percent of the students who attend neighborhood high schools drop out before graduating from high school,” Thomas-Barrios said.Thomas-Barrios said the decision to have Gene Simmons speak to a group of NAI students was an easy one for her and colleagues, who knew that students could relate well to Simmons, who immigrated to the United States from Israel with his mother when he was only 9 years old.“I am you; you are me,” Simmons said. “I wasn’t born here … when I first came to the United States of America, I heard the words, ‘What are you, stupid? Can’t you speak English?’”Simmons, like many of the students at the USC magnet schools, did not speak English as a first language. Simmons encouraged every student to do what he did: work as hard as possible each and every day, rather than giving up in the face of adversity.“When you take a look at the most powerful people in the world, they’re not the prettiest, they’re not the tallest … they may not be the smartest. They worked the hardest,” Simmons said.Pavel Krapivin, a colleague of Simmons’ and a former student of Thomas-Barrios’, was also able to relate to the current students of NAI as an immigrant who did not speak English as his first language, but taught it to himself by reading science textbooks.Krapivin, who attended USC after high school, has stayed close to NAI and his former professor and principal. His success story is one of the many inspirations current NAI students have.“When the school opened, I wanted to come here to learn, and I am very happy to come back here because all of you are going to do great things and once you do, you’ll want to give back,” Krapivin told the students. “It feels good to come back and to do things for other people.”Simmons, known for his role in the rock band KISS, encouraged students to ignore unsupportive people and to always believe that they are extraordinary.“Anybody that makes you feel bad, get rid of them — get them out of your life,” Simmons said. “You don’t have time for them, because they’re just vampires — they’re going to suck the life out of you.”One of the things Simmons emphasized to the students was that nobody was stopping them from succeeding except themselves.“All the information in the world, finally, for the first time in history, is available to you and to the richest and the most powerful, for free. … There’s nothing preventing you from scaling the heights — nothing — except you. All the opportunity you’ve got here, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”