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CABGU Screens Fascinating Documentary "After Munich"

June 15, 2022


Canadian Friends of Ben-Gurion University screened the Francine Zuckerberg’s  2019 documentary After Munich , dealing  with the  horrific1972 Munich Olympics tragedy , which occurred when the Palestinian terror group Black September’s infiltrated Munich’s Olympic Village to hold Israeli athletes hostage, resulting in 11 Israeli Olympians being  murdered in cold blood.(The Munich Olympics were the first games to be held in Germany since the Hitler’s Nazi regime oversaw the 1936 Olympics).


Although there are other documentary films about this event, Zuckerberg documentary is unique because it focuses on events that occurred in the wake of the Munich massacre. The film  examines the unique perspectives of  several different women whose lives were forever impacted by the event.



Ankie Spitzer, a prominent interviewee in the film, was left widowed with a baby, after her husband, Andre, an Israeli fencing coach, was murdered. She worked tirelesslys to get an official memorial for the 11 victims, which she was finally able to do for the 2016 Rio Games. Her efforts expose the reluctance of the Olympic Committee to bring attention to the disaster in any way. Spitzer, a reporter for Belgian and Dutch TV based in Israel, is also a strong proponent of the Path to Peace mosaic on the wall dividing the Gaza Strip and Israel, and  she and others have said they hope the project will lead to a peaceful future. Like Spitzer, her daughter indicates in After Munich that it wasn’t “all the Arabs who killed my father, but just a small group who did.” 



Esther Roth Shahamorov, another woman featured in the film,  was an Israeli track and field athlete, whose Olympic dreams were cut short with the murder of her coach in the '72 Massacre. She would eventually compete in the 1976 Games, and went on to become a coach.


Since 1972 it was the first year the Olympics were televised, horrified audiences around the globe were able to watch the terrifying hostage situation, and the deaths of the athletes. As the film relates, this was especially traumatic for Spitzer and Roth-Shahamorov.


The  other two females featured in the documentary are former Mossad agents. Marianne Gladnikoff was brought in for a Norwegian mission, which was supposed to target the head of Black September. Unfortunately, when Gladnikoff warned that Israel had targeted the wrong individual in a case of mistaken identity, this warning was ignored by her superiors and an innocent man was killed. She was overwrought emotionally from the ordeal and never recovered. Sylvia Raphael was a Mossad agent, who lived undercover as a Canadian photographer. She was also involved with what became known as the “Lillehammer Affair,”  in which Mossad agents killed Ahmed Bouchikhi, a Moroccan waiter who they mistook for  their target for Ali Hassan Salameh, the chief of operations for Black September. Six of the Mossad team of fifteen,  were captured and convicted of complicity in the killing by the Norwegian justice system. Gladnikoff, Raphael, and the other agents involved all spent time in prison in Norway for the assassination.


“After Munich” includes extensive interviews with all four women, except for Raphael, who passed away in 2005 such that her segments are fictionally recreated. To bring added depth to Raphael’s story, there are also interviews with Raphael’s contemporaries who knew her during her years as a secret agent.


Zuckerberg's  documentary is both fascinating and unique, and a worthwhile experience.


I viewed the film online, but at the in-person event at the Berney Theatre, the film-maker, was on hand for a conversation with CTV  anchor Marolee Caruso.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.