Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - March 14, 2014

1972 Munich Massacre survivor to speak

Olympian Dan Alon wrote book about carnage

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The 1972 attack on the Israeli team in the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany was on everyone's minds last month as world athletes gathered in Sochi, Russia. Violence was avoided this year but for Dan Alon, horror at the Olympics happened: He was a 27-year-old Israeli fencer, awakened at 4:30 a.m. Sept. 5, 1972, by gunfire and frantic shouting.

What came to be known as the Munich Massacre resulted in the murder of 11 Israeli Olympians at the hands of Black September, a terrorist group. Alon and four teammates survived.

On March 27, Alon will recount his harrowing experience for an audience at the Amador Theater.

"We are deeply honored to host Dan Alon for his first Bay Area appearance ever," said Raleigh Resnick, Rabbi of Chabad of the Tri Valley, the event organizer. "Mr. Alon's appearance provides a special opportunity for the community to connect directly with someone who personally lived through an iconic historical event."

After the tragedy, Alon returned to his life in Israel and barely mentioned the traumatic events in Munich.

"I really didn't talk about it, not even to my family or my friends," Alon said. "I tried to stay busy with my business, with my family."

Then in 2005, Steven Spielberg released "Munich," a film about the attack and Israel's subsequent efforts to hunt down those responsible.

"People started to call me and ask me questions," said Alon, who lives in Tel Aviv.

The subsequent conversations and resurrected memories led him to write a book, "Munich Memoir," and to hit the lecture circuit. Alon has spoken at universities and in communities around the world.

After the killings in 1972, the Munich Olympics paused for one day and then resumed. Alon agrees that was the right course of action because it would have been unwise to "surrender to terror" and unfair to deny athletes the chance to compete.

"For me, the Olympics are a sacred space for sportsmen," he said. "I believe still that the Olympics are very, very good at trying to unite people around the world."

Tickets cost $20; $15 students and seniors. VIP tickets are $54, to include priority seating and private reception. Visit www.JewishTriValley.com or call 846-0700.

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