It is troubling that Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman asserts that because one of many anti-Semitic passages was removed, the “Death of Klinghoffer” opera to be performed at the Met is no longer anti-Semitic (“High Drama Over ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera,” June 27).
The opera still contains outrageous libels stating that Jews cheat, exploit, pollute virgins, defame, break laws, are idolaters, and get fat from the poor. By contrast, terrorists who murdered a disabled elderly American Jew sing, “We are soldiers fighting a war, we are not criminals, we are not vandals, we are men of ideals.” A passenger even sings that the terrorist “Omar” was “extremely nice.”
The opera’s falsification of history to malign Israel’s Jews (to “justify” murdering an American Jew) is also anti-Semitism. The opera DVD begins with a little Arab girl watching Jews shoot at, beat and chase Arab women and children from their homes. Israeli Jews are falsely accused of “razing” and “laying waste” to Arab homes in 1948. In fact, contemporaneous British police reports and numerous other independent sources documented that Israeli Jews begged the Arabs to stay in their homes and live together in peace. The Arab High Committee and seven Arab nations invading the fledgling State of Israel in 1948 told the Arabs to leave, to make the job of killing Israel’s Jews easier.
The opera also leaves the false impression that Jews massacred Muslims in Sabra and Shatilla as another “justification” for murdering Klinghoffer (when it was Christians who massacred Muslims), and falsely portrays what the Nazis did to the Jews as similar to what Jews do to the Arabs.
The Met’s own form letter openly states that “Death of Klinghoffer” tries to show the “humanity of the terrorists.” Would the Met perform an opera showing the “humanity” of the murderers of three Israeli boys earlier this month, or the killers of Muslims, blacks or Hispanics?
Especially in this time of increasing anti-Semitism, the Met should cancel its still-planned eight live performances of the opera this fall. Morton Klein President, The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)
Elizabeth Berney, Esq. Long-Island/Queens Region Executive Director, ZOA
Klinghoffer Daughters Protest Opera
By ALLAN KOZINN Published: September 11, 1991
Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, the daughters of Leon Klinghoffer, have expressed their disapproval of a new opera by the composer John Adams and the librettist Alice Goodman. The work, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” is about the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists in 1985, during which Mr. Kling hoffer was murdered.
The opera, which has been performed in Brussels, Vienna and Lyons, France, is running at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through Friday. It also portrays their mother, Marilyn, who died in 1986.
“We are outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the coldblooded murder of our father as the centerpiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic,” the Kling hoffers said in a statement issued by their personal representative, Letty Simon. “While we understand artistic license, when it so clearly favors one point of view it is biased. Moreover, the juxtaposition of the plight of the Palestinian people with the coldblooded murder of an innocent disabled American Jew is both historically naive and appalling.”
Ms. Simon said that she released the statement in response to a question from The Los Angeles Times and that the Klinghoffers would have no further comment. The Klinghoffers, who live in Manhattan, had been invited by the Brooklyn Academy to attend a performance of the work, but Ms. Simon said they declined the invitation because they preferred to buy their own tickets and to attend anonymously. They saw the opera on Saturday evening.
Moral clarity in Gaza [See statement in this article that the Klinghoffer opera is “deeply sympathetic to the killers”]
Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.
And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.
The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution. This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago.
And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel. Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. . . . [NOTE: The STOP Coalition notes that just this point is not entirely accurate. The Hamas rockets have killed Israeli children such as Daniel Viflic, who died a painful death from his injuries after a Hamas rocket hit his school bus. Other Israeli men, women and children have died from the rockets too. Hamas IS trying to kill and terrorize Israeli civilians with rockets and with its planned tunnel attacks. Hamas’s goals include BOTH murdering innocent Israelis AND drawing counterfire.]
It makes no sense. Unless you understand, as Tuesday’s Post editorial explained, that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire.
This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.
To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.
In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, the depravity of Hamas begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera — both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years that nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.
It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.
Met Opera Cancels Broadcast of Anti-Semitic “Klinghoffer” Promoting Anti-Israel Lies/Humanizing Terrorists, ZOA Had Spoken To Movie Officials, Donor Connections; The Met Must Also Cancel Live NY Performances
[NOTE: The Met Still Plans to Have 8 Live NY Performances of “Death of Klinghoffer” This Fall]
“Death of Klinghoffer” is a bigoted opera, filled with breath-taking propaganda lies against Israel and the Jewish people. It legitimizes, romanticizes and humanizes Arab terrorist killers of Jews.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) welcomes the Metropolitan Opera and AMC Theaters decision canceling the planned live HD transmission of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Opera “Death of Klinghoffer” to 2,000 theaters in 66 countries around the world. But it is distressing that the Metropolitan Opera has still not canceled the eight live performances of “Death of Klinghoffer” in New York City this fall, commencing on October 20. This must be done as soon as possible.
As ZOA’s press release last week explained, “Death of Klinghoffer” revises history to malign Israel, in an attempt to justify and “humanize” the Palestinian terrorists who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 and murdered an innocent disabled Jewish-American passenger named Leon Klinghoffer in cold blood.
ZOA is especially grateful for and appreciative of the sensitivity and prompt actions of AMC Theaters. As part of ZOA’s campaign against “Death of Klinghoffer,” ZOA contacted AMC, which owns the theaters throughout the United States where “Klinghoffer” was scheduled for broadcast. AMC is headquartered in Kansas – a state which recently experienced the horrible results of inciting anti-Semitism; this past April, a gunman murdered three innocent people at a Jewish center and Jewish retirement home. As soon as ZOA described to AMC how “Death of Klinghoffer” falsely revises history to malign Jews, and employs other vicious anti-Semitic canards, AMC immediately understood the anti-Semitic nature and perils of “Death of Klinghoffer” and took action, including contacting and conferring with officials at the Met Opera. AMC kindly called ZOA afterwards to tell us of their actions, and we were able to express our appreciation to the company in person.
ZOA President Mort Klein stated:
“In this era when too many excuse hatred against Jews and Israel, it was gratifying to find a company which understood the anti-Semitic nature of this opera, and immediately took action.”
ZOA is also grateful to many others who have joined our efforts to stop performances and broadcasts of “Death of Klinghoffer.” ZOA contacted large donors to the Met, and friends of these donors, who have been helping with ZOA’s efforts.
ZOA’s press release last week also provided information for writing to the Met’s General Manager Peter Gelb and contacting opera board members. We are very gratified that so many members of the public wrote and called Mr. Gelb and did and are doing everything they can to help.
ZOA would also like to especially thank Myron Kaplan, an avid opera-goer and Camera senior analyst, who played the important role of first raising the issue of this anti-Semitic opera, in Mr. Kaplan’s open letter to Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb.
Unfortunately, however, as of now, the Met plans to perform the opera 8 times in New York. ZOA urges the public to continue joining our continuing efforts to stop these shameful performances. If you did not see our press release last week, please click here to see Met General Manager Peter Gelb’s address and other helpful information.
Please also contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to assist with our planned protests at the Met this fall if the Met insists on performing an opera which justifies the murder of innocent Jews. ZOA President Mort Klein stated: “We welcome the Metropolitan Opera canceling the simulcast of the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic opera “Death of Klinghoffer.” But the Met must also cancel the live New York performances of this bigoted play, filled with breath-taking propaganda lies against Israel and the Jewish people. This play legitimizes, romanticizes and humanizes Arab terrorist killers of Jews.
The Metropolitan Opera’s own form letter to those complaining about this play openly states that this opera “looks for humanity in the terrorists.” If one “humanizes” killers of gay people, you are anti-gay. If one “humanizes” killers of blacks, you are anti-black. If one “humanizes” killers of Jews, you are anti-Semitic. In this opera, an Arab killer says “We are soldiers fighting a war; we are not criminals; we are not vandals; we are men of ideals” – while the Jews are portrayed as fat, cheaters, exploiters, defilers, defamers and polluters.
While the opera complains about the Arab “refugees” of the 1948 war, the opera never mentions the Arab’s refusal to accept the state offered to them in 1948, which would have prevented the “refugee” issue. Moreover, if seven Arab countries had not invaded Israel in 1948 in an attempt to destroy the fledging Jewish state and murder its Jewish citizens, and if the Arab leaders had not told Arabs to leave so that the invading Arab armies could more easily murder Jews, there would have been no refugee issue.”
While we are pleased that there now will be far less exposure for “Death of Klinghoffer,” our job is not complete until there are no performances of this anti-Semitic opera.
We take our seat to see the controversial opera, and wish we hadn’t.
English National Opera, London WC2
Oppressors? Alan Opie and Michaela Martens as Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer
John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer trails controversy in its wake. The eminent musicologist Richard Taruskin has called it antisemitic. Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters described it in the JC last month as “disingenuous and appalling”, saying that it “perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to rationalise, legitimise, and explain it”.
The English National Opera production has certainly not been short of publicity – just the sort that promoters love, driving the curious to see what the fuss is all about. But this time that does not seem to have helped ticket sales. There were many empty seats. I wish mine had been one of them. My main reaction at the end was that three hours of my life had been wasted on a pile of tosh.
Because whatever else The Death of Klinghoffer may be, it is deeply, yawn-inducingly boring. I cannot think how anyone – from any perspective on the Middle East – could gain anything from seeing it. The characters, when they are given a personality, are as one-dimensional as the “Israel bad, Palestinians noble” politics. The drama (it is really not an opera but an oratorio) is entirely non-existent. And the production is at best banal, at worst tendentious and misleading.
Musically, I was reminded of Rossini’s comment that “Mr Wagner has beautiful moments but bad quarters of an hour”. Adams’s quarters of an hour drag interminably. Indeed, what Adams and his librettist Alice Goodman have to say could easily be expressed in a couple of minutes: Palestinians are the blameless victims of beastly Israelis. . . .
[T]he opera is no more than another dreary, predictable piece of unthinking Israel-bashing. You know where you are heading with the very first lines of the opera, sung by the Chorus of Palestinian Exiles: “My father’s house was razed In 1948 When the Israelis Passed over our street”. Then we are told – four times, just to be sure we get it – that “Israel laid all to waste”. The Palestinians’ pity is paraded before us, driven to terrorism as the inevitable and unavoidable consequence of having had their land stolen by the Israelis.
The hijackers of the Achille Lauro are given back-stories, each representing an archetype. One is a poet, his flowery words presumably meant to show us the romantic heart that beats inside him, suppressed by the brutal Israelis. Another wears a suit. One is, yes, a thug. And the Palestinian who shoots Klinghoffer is, it emerges, not even responsible for his behaviour. The opera flashes back to his mother brainwashing him into becoming a martyr for his people’s cause. You see, he had no choice but to murder a Jew in cold blood. It was his mother’s fault.
Other than Mr and Mrs Klinghoffer, none of the Jewish captives are given any personality. They move around the stage in a block, interchangeable. They are simply representatives of the oppressors. As for Leon Klinghoffer: he expresses his anger at the Palestinians and calls them “shits”. And that is about as far as his character is drawn.
Tom Morris’s production simply adds to the one-dimensional mindset behind the opera. The set is built around a representation of the West Bank security wall (which did not even exist when Klinghoffer was murdered). In case you do not dig what the composer and librettist are saying, then you will get it visually. It is all about Israeli oppression, see. It seems to me that Adams’s real intent is revealed at the end. The ship’s Captain is berating the terrorists’ leader. You had done such a good job, the Captain says. You stirred the conscience of a sleepy world. And then you went and ruined it by killing Klinghoffer. That, surely, is the voice of Adams and Goodman.
Here are more articles about this opera which “humanizes,” idealizes and excuses PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) terrorists’ murder of an innocent, disabled, elderly, wheelchair-bound Jewish-American:
ZOA Urges Cancellation of Metropolitan Opera’s Planned Anti-Semitic Anti-Israel Performances and Worldwide Broadcast of Death of Klinghoffer
Anti-Israel Production to be Viewed Live by Hundreds of Thousands, by Myron Kaplan
Jewish Group: Show Should Not Go On At Metropolitan Opera (CBS) Met Opera Cancels Broadcast of Anti-Semitic Klinghoffer Opera Promoting Anti-Israel Lies, Humanizing Terrorists; ZOA had Spoken to Movie Officials, Donor Connections; Met Must Also Cancel Live Performances
The Silent Majority No More ZOA Is Shocked, Mystified That ADL Foxman Wrongly States Klinghoffer Opera Is Not Anti-Semitic [This article details 20 outrageous issues with the opera.]
Klinghoffer the Opera: Biased and Banal (Jewish Standard)
Music’s Dangers and the Case for Control, by Richard Taruskin (The New York Times).