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February 13, 2015  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Israeli Olympian who survived 1972 Munich Massacre to speak here


Dan Alon was a 27-year-old fencer when terrorists took him and 14 other Israeli team members hostage. Eleven died. For more than 30 years, Alon did not talk about his experience. Dan Alon was a 27-year-old fencer when terrorists took him and 14 other Israeli team members hostage. Eleven died. For more than 30 years, Alon did not talk about his experience. Dan Alon had reached the pinnacle to which every serious athlete aspires: He had made the Olympics.

Alon was a 27-year-old fencer for the Israeli Olympic team. The year was 1972, and the place was Munich. At 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 5, Alon was awakened in his Olympic Village apartment by gunfire and frantic shouting. The horrific event that came to be known as the Munich Massacre was under way. By the time it was over, 11 Israeli Olympians lay dead at the hands of the Black September terrorist group. Alon and four teammates miraculously survived.

On Sunday, March 15, Alon will recount his harrowing experience at the St. Petersburg College Music Center, 6605 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. Doors open at 2:30 p.m., and the presentation begins at 3 p.m.

“We are deeply honored to host Dan Alon for his first Tampa Bay area appearance ever,” said Rabbi Alter Korf of Chabad of St. Petersburg, which is organizing the event. “Mr. Alon’s appearance provides a special opportunity for the community to connect directly with someone who personally lived through an iconic historical event.”

Following the tragedy, Alon went on with his life and, for more than three decades, barely mentioned Munich. “I really didn’t talk about it, not even to my family or my friends,” says Alon. “I tried to stay busy with my business, with my family.”

That changed in 2005 with the release of Steven Spielberg’s Munich, an epic film about the attack and Israel’s subsequent effort to hunt down those responsible.

“People started to call me and ask me questions,” says Alon, who lives in Tel Aviv. That led Alon 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 a day, then resumed. Alon says 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 says. “I believe still that the Olympics are very, very good at trying to unite people around the world.”

Tickets are $15 before March 10; $20 after March 10. Sponsor tickets are $72, which include admission and a VIP meeting with Dan Alon following the event. For more information and to order tickets, visit www.ChabadSP.com or call (727) 344-4900.


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