In what may have been a response to the mounting pressure on his organization, Rogge led an impromptu moment of silence yesterday in front of about 100 people in the athlete's village and paid tribute to the slain Olympians. But the families angrily dismissed the gesture as a "fig leaf" so that the IOC could avoid the larger commemoration and are vowing to continue their battle with the IOC.
Ankie Spitzer, the widow of slain Israeli fencing coach Andre Spitzer, says that thanks to the petition and resolutions calling for a moment of silence from legislatures worldwide, the Israeli families feel they have made progress in their fight for a commemoration they say is necessary to accord a measure of closure for their grief.
But in the poisoned atmosphere of Palestinian-Israeli relations, the Israeli request is seen by Palestinians as a political stunt. Leading Palestinian politicians oppose the moment of silence, viewing it as a ploy to cast Israel as the victim in the conflict and to distract attention from Israeli practices today, including the military occupation of the West Bank.
''They want to remind the world of what happened a long time ago, to show they were suffering, so that the world will focus on other issues and that they will not be seen as the aggressive side," says Hasan Khreisheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. "But the world knows they are the ones carrying out aggression against our people and our land."