Sunday, July 22, 2012

Perplexed About Minute of Silence Etiquette

A few weeks ago I wrote this post about the efforts to persuade the International Olympic Commmittee to hold a minute of silence at the opening ceremony in honour of the 11 Israeli Athletes who were murdered 40 years ago at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

As it became obvious that this was probably not going to happen, people started to concentrate on what could be achieved to honour the 11 Israeli Athletes and remember them on this 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre.

One nice idea was for everyone to hold a personal minute of silence at a pre-arranged time. I was invited to attend this facebook 'event': Virtual Moment of Silence for Murdered Olympic Athletes started by Roni Bat-lavi and Ariana Heiderman.

I 'joined' and forwarded the invitation to my entire friends list of about 550 people (many of whom I've heard of but mostly Jewish nevertheless - not that non-Jews don't or shouldn't care about this). At the time of writing there are 1,828 people 'going' and163 maybes out of 14,669 invited. The minute of silence is called for 7.30 pm (UK) on Friday 27th July to coincide with the beginning of the opening ceremony.

Since then I've been invited to two other similar events. The Minute for Munich (public event, 8,733 'going' and 542 maybes out of 70,410 invited) is called for 11 am (GMT +1) on Friday 27th July. This one uses the traditional 11 am remembrance time and does not interfere with Shabbat or the opening ceremony (whichever you are celebrating).

Just One Minute started by Pietro Fabris, Tali Israeli and 13 others (2,624 'going' and 460 maybes out of 14,625 invited) will be held on Thursday 26th July at 7pm (GMT+1), a whole day before Shabbat and  the opening ceremony.

I joined all three minutes of silence but did not pass the subsequent invitations on to my fb friends as I felt that would have been overkill. Shame it wasn't better coordinated and adding up the numbers doesn't tell us anything.

That being said, it is a nice idea. It won't change anything, it won't bring anybody back, and no one will know if you actually did it or not. I am going to do it (not sure which but possibly all three) as it is meaningful to me to take a minute to remember as we do on other solemn occasions.

So what am I perplexed about? Facebook informs me that over 100 of my friends are 'going' to the event I publicized. So far so great. I don't know how many of the maybes are my friends (I know at least one). This is a little bit perplexing. What does 'maybe' mean? If you have time? If you remember? If after having carried out further research you can see no reason not to?

However, the most perplexing thing is the number of my friends (about 20 I think) who have declined. Why? Why decline? No one is chasing you for an rsvp. No one needs to know the numbers for catering/security/cloakroom tickets. And I'm talking about righteous people who have values that I admire.

I realize that some people may not be able to do a minute of silence at the prescribed time. Maybe it is just when you are putting the children to bed or sitting down to eat. Maybe it is not the done thing on Shabbat or it may even be forbidden. But why actually click on 'decline'?

There is a purpose to these things other than simply being a good thing to do (in my opinion). As I said, it's personal and no one will know if you did or if you didn't. What will be known is that up to 100,000 people were invited to join these events and only 13,000 have responded positively. Btw, I have no problem with those who have a personal policy of not joining or sharing anything on fb.

I also have a policy not to pass on silly things (unless they are really funny or clever) and even "share if you are against child abuse" type posts I find a bit strange and I ignore them. Anything, in fact, that tells me what to do if I care and implies that I don't care if I don't follow the instructions, I tend to ignore. I wouldn't click on an option to decline caring about child abuse or any other real topic of concern. I may not do as I'm asked if I see no practical good that can come out of it but I wouldn't lessen the hosts' initiative by declining if they feel they are helping in some way.

I am not being judgemental here as I genuinely have no clue why anyone would actively announce that they decline to take a minute to remember the Israeli Athletes, rather than just ignoring the invitation for whatever personal reasons they have. If anyone can shed some light on this I would be happy to read your comment.


  1. Sorry I can't shed any light but can only agree - how weird!

    1. There was quite a discussion on facebook about this but, unfortunately, many contributors didn't actually read the post so they only explained how some ppl don't like to join or get involved with fb events. I understand that but no one really answered my question adequately. One person came close by saying she's a bit OCD about the little numbers on the left and likes to get rid of them. But I explained that deleting the invitation has the same effect. Oh well, I'm still perplexed. Thanks for commenting.