As the world prepares to celebrate the Summer Olympics in London in the shadow of this week's murder of innocent Israeli and Bulgarian civilians, we are painfully reminded of not just how much work is still left to do in eradicating international terrorism 40 years after the massacre of 11 Israeli Olympians at the 1972 Munich Summer Games, but also how grateful we are to be Minnesotans and Americans.
While the investigation is still ongoing, according to The New York Times, "a senior American official confirmed Israel’s assertions on Thursday that the suicide bomber who killed five Israelis in an attack here on Wednesday was a member of a Hezbollah cell operating in Bulgaria." Moreover, the "official said the current American intelligence assessment is that the bomber was 'acting under broad guidance' to hit Israeli targets when the opportunity presented itself. That guidance was given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by its primary sponsor, Iran, he said."
Notably, this attack in Bulgaria came on the 18th anniversary of the Hezbollah-Iranian terrorist attack against the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded over 600. It is unknown whether the perpetrators of the Bulgaria attack were aware that in Judaism the numeric value for the Hebrew word chai, which means life, is 18. We appreciate that President Barack Obama has rightfully condemned the attack in Burgas as "barbaric" and appropriately called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offering assistance to bring "the perpetrators to justice." We also cannot help but note that this latest barbaric act by Iran and her proxies, which comes on the heels of similar recent attacks in Thailand and the Republic of Georgia, demonstrates once again how completely unacceptable it would be for the genocidal regime in Tehran to acquire the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, a nuclear bomb.
Though there is of course no direct relationship between this year's Summer Olympics and the tragedy in Bulgaria, the failure of the international community to adequately confront terrorism and hate, and truly honor the memory of its victims has painfully been on display by the International Olympic Committee's stubborn and inexplicable refusal to adequately honor the memory of the 11 slain Israeli Olympians next week in London on this the 40th anniversary of their murders.
Thankfully, Bob Costas, who will host NBC's Olympic telecast, has already pledged to honor their memory with a moment of silence. We also appreciate the strong bipartisan public support from the United States Senate and President Obama in urging the IOC to do the right thing and appropriately honor not just the 11 Israelis murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, but unite the entire world together in a shared moment of repudiation of terrorism, both historically and today.
Here in Minnesota, we are also fortunate to live in a community which more often than not successfully celebrates our increasing diversity and the enduring American right of the freedom of worship. Along these lines, I was heartened to read the July 19th Star Tribune article noting the accommodations made throughout the Twin Cities to Muslim religious practice in connection with Ramadan. One of the remarkable narratives of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and throughout Minnesota, are the triumphs and struggles of our diaspora communities whether Somali, Hmong, or Latin American. My friend, Zafar Siddiqui, of the Islamic Resource Group notes the challenge of long summer days and work while maintaining the fast of Ramadan in the Star Tribune article. Minnesotans are hardworking, but we find ways to accommodate religious observance and the needs of the workplace--although it's not always easy.
Finally, as the disintegration of Syria and elsewhere unfolds before our eyes in a cataclysm of violent government repression, bombings and sectarian and tribal killings, we both mourn the loss of human life and acknowledge how grateful we are to live in a country of relative stability and where our differences expressed in debate, in elections, in rhetoric, but rarely in violence. Moreover, as reaffirmed in recent days by leaders such as Senator John McCain, Speaker John Boehner, and Representative Keith Ellison, we are proud to live in a country where a person's loyalty is not considered a function of their religion or race, but by their actions and patriotism.