How the Munich Massacre relates to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Online Athens

Posted By on May 14, 2022

Ronald Gerson| Columnist

In the next few columns, I am going to reflect on some important anniversaries that are marking fifty years, going back to 1972.

For Jews and all people who value liberty and decency, Sept.5 and 6, 1972, represent an absolutely horrible day.

The setting, as you may recall, was the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.In what is supposed to be an occasion of sportsmanship and goodwill, the Black September Palestinian terrorist group took Israeli athletes hostage. Theykilled six Israeli coaches and five athletes. In 2005, this was documented in the popular movie, "Munich."

(On a personal note, this happened a few days before our High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah, the NewYear.As a Rabbinic student, I was about to preach my very first holy day sermon in the Staunton, Virginia, synagogue.Can you imagine a young twenty-five-year-old faced with preaching on a subject such as this?)

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What was the overall purpose of the Black September massacre?It was their violent expression, that Jews should not be allowed to live in the free state of Israel.But, obviously,seeing the vibrant free country of Israel today, they failed miserably.

So, in light of this, fast forward to now,the Russian onslaught upon Ukraine which has been going on for weeks.WhateverVladimir Putin says - his political rationalizations about the invasion - this is, again, the denial of a people's freedom, the brutal idea that Ukraine should not be a sovereign, free country.And, needless to say, President Zelenskyy and his people are fighting valiantly for that freedom.

The common nature of these two events - fifty years apart - the attack upon a people's liberty... There is something very horrible about it, beyond the daily news flashes.

Human freedom is more than an event - it is a divine imperative.It is the condition that God wants for human beings.In the Biblical book of Genesis at creation, we read:"And God said, "Let us make man (and woman) in our image" (Genesis 1: 26). Man and woman cannot be God, but, in His image, likeGod, they have free will.To take that away is to take away a God-given right.It is to deny God Himself.That is what Black September was attempting, and this is what Putin is attempting.

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It is interesting how Americans continue to look back with great pride at our struggle to win World War II.It has become known as the "Good War."For this was a fight to save freedom for people around the world.To preserve the divine ideal of freedom.As President Franklin Roosevelt voiced in his 1944 State of the Union address, it was a "sacred obligation."

In the end, I believe that Ukraine will sustain itself.Because freedom is God's will, much stronger than brutality.This is the enduring message of Munich, fifty years ago.

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How the Munich Massacre relates to Russia's invasion of Ukraine - Online Athens

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