Just as we approach the midpoint of summer — a time that should be filled with joy and contentment — the Jewish world is once again facing some sobering truths.
Eighteen years to the day after a massive bomb destroyed the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, taking countless innocent lives, terror struck again on July 18, this time in Bulgaria. The victims were Israelis on a bus leaving the airport. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately pointed to Iran and its surrogate Hezbollah as the culprits.
The same terror group has always been suspected in the earlier South American bombing.
A recent Jewish Telegraphic Agency story on the Bulgarian bus bombing quoted from an official statement issued last week in which Netanyahu called on "the world's leading powers" to recognize "that Iran is the country that stands behind this terror campaign. Iran must be exposed by the international community as the premiere terrorist-supporting state that it is."
Iran has, of course, denied all responsibility.
This deplorable act of murder must send a chill through most Jews as they now watch athletes preparing to compete at the summer Olympics in London. Whether on the ground in England or via TV, we can't help but dwell on the Munich Olympics and the horrific slaying of 11 Israeli athletes there 40 years ago.
But this is not just another sorrowful anniversary in Jewish history. It has taken on added meaning because of the insensitivity of officials from the International Olympic Committee. We've been forced to remember not only because of what occurred in Bulgaria, but also because of the worldwide effort to force the head of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, to set aside a moment of remembrance at the opening ceremony in honor of the murdered Israelis — and not some token gesture as he did earlier this week.
Rogge has refused all calls for such an observance. He has been quoted as saying, "We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident." Such callousness seems unfathomable in the face of the depths of this crime.
But as Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt recently wrote in Tablet magazine: "This was the greatest tragedy to ever occur during the Olympic Games. Yet the IOC has made it quite clear that these victims are not worth 60 seconds."
Groups should continue to push to change Rogge's decision, right up to the opening ceremonies on Friday night if necessary. But if it doesn't work, as it may not, we Jews should then use the Tisha B'Av holiday — which falls on Sunday and commemorates the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and other tragedies in Jewish history — to set aside time to recall all the victims of our faith, both past and present.