WHO WAS BLACK SEPTEMBER?
In the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jordan illegally annexed Judea and Samaria to Jordan and renamed it the West Bank, referring to the “west bank” of the Jordan River.
In the decades that followed, the West Bank became the base for the Palestine Liberation Organization and two of its largest member groups, Fatah and the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
King Hussein of Jordan feared that the Palestine Liberation Organization would seize power from him. As such, he launched an armed attack in September of 1970. Around 4000 Palestinians were killed in the attack (more than Israel has ever killed in an entire war), and the conflict was subsequently called “Black September.”
Because of this attack, a new terrorist group, comprised of both members of Fatah and the PFLP and under the auspices of the Palestine Liberation Organization, emerged. The group called itself Black September.
Black September carried out a number of bloody terrorist attacks in the 1970s and early 1980s, the most notorious of which was the 1972 Munich Massacre.
THE MUNICH MASSACRE
The Munich Massacre was an attack on the Israeli Olympic team during the second week of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, perpetrated by the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September.
Prior to the Olympics, West Germany was eager to change its image from that of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, a highly militarized affair that was meant to showcase Nazi strength and the “superiority” of the Aryan race. For this reason, the 1972 Olympics had little police presence, and the officers that they did have were dressed inconspicuously.
The lack of armed police worried the Israeli delegation before they even arrived to Munich. The Israeli team was also housed in a relatively isolated part of the Olympic Village. West Germany assured Israel that extra security would be provided for them; the Israelis doubt that this actually happened.
On September 5, at 4:30 in the morning, eight members of Black September, dressed in tracksuits and carrying duffle bags filled with arms, climbed the fence into the Olympic Village, with the help of Canadian athletes who were sneaking in after an evening out.
Using stolen keys, the terrorists entered the apartments of the Israeli delegation. The first to be alerted to the sound was Yossef Gutreund, a wrestling referee. After investigating, he saw five armed men with guns. He shouted a warning, which alerted Tuvia Sokolovsky, a weightlifting coach, who smashed a window and escaped. Moshe Weinberg, another wrestling coach who attempted to fight the intruders, was shot and taken hostage.
After Weinberg was taken hostage, he led the attackers past Apartment 2, lying by claiming that the residents were not Israeli. Instead, he took them to Apartment 3, where the Israeli wrestlers and weightlifters were staying, probably because he felt that those athletes would have a better chance of fighting the terrorists off.
Once again, Weinberg tried to fight the terrorists, knocking one of them unconscious and stabbing another with a knife. He was shot to death. Meanwhile, Gad Tsobari, one of the athletes, was able to escape.
Another weightlifter, Yossef Romano, attempted to fight the terrorists. He was castrated and murdered. We don’t know if he was castrated before or after he was murdered. The attackers were left with nine hostages.
An athlete named Shaul Ladany, a Holocaust survivor who was staying in Apartment 2, heard the commotion and jumped out a second-story window. He ran to the American dormitory and alerted them of the situation.
The hostages were bound by the wrists, ankles, and to each other, and subjected to horrific torture, including beatings that broke their bones. Gutreund, the largest of all the hostages, was tied to a chair “like a mummy.”
BOTCHED RESCUE ATTEMPT
Unsuccessful hostage negotiations were held throughout the rest of the day. The West Germans felt that they were in a difficult position, considering that the hostages were Jewish and they wanted to change Germany’s image from that of the 1936 Olympics. They offered the terrorists an unlimited amount of money, but they refused. Two Egyptian advisors to the Arab League and one Egyptian member of the International Olympic Committee attempted to negotiate with the terrorists to no avail. Instead, they demanded the release of 236 Palestinian terrorists.
West Germany, which had no counterterrorism unit, refused assistance from the Mossad. As the German police scaled the building in an awkward attempt to rescue the Israelis, television cameras swarmed the surrounding areas. The rescue mission was televised live, for all of the world to see…which meant that the terrorists saw it too.
The terrorists eventually demanded that they and the hostages be flown to Egypt. The Germans agreed to fly them to the airport in a helicopter, where they intended to ambush them. Policemen disguised as “flight crew” and five poorly equipped sharpshooters on the ground were meant to surprise the terrorists, but the “flight crew” decided to abandon the mission at the last minute. When they arrived at the airport, the terrorists realized it was an ambush, and a shootout ensued. One of the terrorists threw a grenade, killing four Israelis, while the rest were shot.
Prior to the Olympic Games, a West German forensic psychologist came up with 26 possible terrorism scenarios, including the possibility of antisemitic or anti-Israel violence. “Situation 21” forecast the possibility of a Palestinian group invading Israeli headquarters, taking hostages, and murdering members of the Israeli delegation. However, because the West German organizers were determined to portray a “Carefree Games,” they did not adequately prepare for “Situation 21.”
In 2012, the German publication Der Spiegel published a report, based on a 2000-page file compiled by the Berlin authorities, which proved that the German authorities had been tipped off about the attack and failed to take action. In fact, the West German authorities had been told that the Palestinians were planning an “incident” three weeks before the massacre. According to the publication, the German authorities withheld nearly 4000 files regarding the massacre for 20 years.
The documents showed something else. Black September — a self-described “left-wing” Marxist Palestinian terrorist organization — had enlisted the help of two notorious German neo-Nazis, Willi Pohl and Wolfgang Abramowski, to carry out the attack, though apparently the neo-Nazis were unaware of their exact plans.
Specifically, Pohl aided Abu Daoud, the mastermind behind the Munich Massacre, by helping him obtain forged passports, credentials, and other documents. Even worse, he helped Daoud obtain weapons. According to Pohl himself, “[I] drove Abu Daoud around Germany, where he met Palestinians in various cities.”
A PRIME EXAMPLE OF RIGHT-WING AND LEFT-WING ANTISEMITES COLLABORATING
There is an ongoing debate both within and outside the Jewish community over whether left or right-wing antisemitism is “worse.” People on the left claim right-wing antisemitism is worse, and people on the right claim left-wing antisemitism is worse. I find this conversation absolutely exhausting, useless, and disingenuous. You are trying to absolve your side while pointing fingers at the other. You should want to fight antisemitism because antisemitism kills, not because you want to make the other side look bad.
I cannot stress this enough: you are missing the forest for the trees.
Left and right antisemitism work together, not apart. They utilize the same tropes, same conspiracies, and same stereotypes. Time and time again in history, and to the present day, right-wing antisemites have collaborated with left-wing antisemites with one ulterior mission: to hurt Jews. Antisemites always prioritize their antisemitism over their political views.
Sure, in the United States, white supremacist antisemitism has been more outwardly violent. But this white supremacist antisemitism has been aided, time and time again, by left-wing antisemitism. When left-wing antisemites spread antisemitic conspiracies, stereotypes, and tropes, white supremacists hear them loud and clear.
You cannot adequately fight right-wing antisemitism if you’re not also fighting left-wing antisemitism.
This year, a major academic study at King’s College London sought to figure out whether antisemitism is more prevalent on the left or the right. To the researchers’ surprise, the answer turned out to be neither. Instead, what the study found is that antisemitism is not so much predicated by where one stands politically, but rather, to susceptibility to conspiracy theories. Additionally, the study found that “antisemitism may be less closely linked to political beliefs than has previously been implied, and more closely linked to opinions and views on other topics such as religion, ethnic nationalism, and conspiracy theories.” Those with a propensity toward authoritarianism — regardless of which kind — were also found to be more antisemitic.
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