Metropolitan Opera opens anti-Semitic opera: ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’

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By Lauri Regan

In the face of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s decision to produce The Death of Klinghoffer despite pleas from thousands including Met Opera subscription holders, New Yorkers, clergymen, politicians, journalists, dignitaries and citizens, the opera’s composer John Adams stated,“for all of the brutality and the moral wrong that they perpetrated in killing this man, they’re still human beings and there still has to be reasons why they did this act.” 

It is this moral equivalence that is not only repugnant but that resulted in what I would estimate was over 1,000 protestors rallying across the street from the Met at the opera’s opening night Monday. 

Organized by a group of individuals who came together united against the Met’s production of an anti-Semitic opera that glorifies terrorism, the rally was beyond a success.  With months of press both positive and negative, the Met’s Peter Gelb stood stubbornly by his decision, refusing to recognize the danger that this production poses – and the moral disgrace of producing such an offensive work.  Instead, he had the audacity to assume that the danger lurked in the ranks of the peaceful protestors when he stated his gratitude for the large police presence and insinuated that the angry mob might turn violent.

The Stop the Klinghoffer Opera Coalition’s organizers included Jeff Wiesenfeld, Helen Friedman and Richard Allen, who organized an “angry” mob that included Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the Honorable Michael Mukasey, Congressman Eliot Engel, Congressman Peter King, Governor David Paterson, The Institute for Study of Global Anti-Semitism’ and Policy’s Dr. Charles Small, The Lawfare Project’s Brooke Goldstein, American’s For a Safe Israel’s Helen Freeman and Mark Langfan, JCC Watch’s Richard Allen, Rabbi David Algaze, and many others.  For two and a half hours, the crowd cheered, sang, and chanted in support of the speakers and against Gelb’s horrific decision.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters wrote the following in response to the production of the opera:

It presents false moral equivalencies without context and offers no real insight into the historical reality and the senseless murder of an American Jew. The opera rationalizes, romanticizes and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father….

Terrorism is irrational. It should never be explained away or justified. Nor should the death of innocent civilians be misunderstood as an acceptable means for drawing attention to perceived political grievances. Unfortunately, “The Death of Klinghoffer” does all of this and sullies the memory of our father in the process.


So what was accomplished on Monday night at the Stop Death of Klinghoffer Rally?  As Rabbi Algaze so insightfully pointed out, in the face of this irrational insanity, the Jewish people rose up and said enough, we will not be silent.  Anti-Semitism is taking hold across the world including in the opera houses of New York City and the message that was sent on Monday night is that we will not go quietly.  Despite the left’s politically correct and narcissistic desire to foist false and dangerous narratives upon a people who have dangerously joined their ranks, we are aware of what happens when we do not fight for our survival and against those who seek our destruction. “Never Again” may very well have a place in the 21st century after all.

As the President of the New York chapter of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, I was honored to join the ranks of the distinguished speakers at the rally.  I share my comments here:

I have a blue dress the color of Israel’s flag that I like to wear at pro-Israel events – but not today.  Today I’m wearing black because we’re mourning. We are in mourning because the New York Metropolitan Opera has chosen to murder Leon Klinghoffer a second time – almost to the day of the 29th anniversary of his death at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. 

But we’re also mourning the death of the saying “Never Again” for when Peter Gelb, a Jew, chooses to produce an opera in the City with the world’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel – an opera that humanizes and glorifies terrorists who murdered an innocent Jewish man whose only crime was choosing to board a cruise ship to celebrate his anniversary with his wife – we should all mourn the sad state of our people.

What do composer John Adams, Peter Gelb and the Metropolitan Opera have in common with Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian Authority?  They all choose to glorify terrorism and honor terrorists who murder Jews.  When Peter Gelb produces “The Death of Klinghoffer,” he is no different than Arafat and Abbas who name public squares after suicide murderers who blow themselves up in order to kill as many Jews as possible.  There is no moral equivalence between the terrorists who murdered Leon Klinghoffer or who blew up a Sbarros pizza restaurant in Tel Aviv and their tragic victims and to suggest otherwise is simply psychotic – and dangerous.  And the false narrative that somehow the murder of an innocent, disabled Jewish man can be justified by the suffering endured by his murderers, presents a danger to all of our survival.  This psychosis did not begin with the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “The Death of Klinghoffer.” But we must do our part to see that it ends here.  As Israel is demonized the world over by anti-Semitism couched as anti-Zionism, any humanization or defense of terrorism endangers not only the Jewish people on the front lines in Israel, but all of us the world over.

Art is a lovely and important part of any culture but when it becomes an excuse to replace reason and morality with insanity, we Jews have a problem.  Peter Gelb is more concerned with bringing Adams’ opera to the Met than he is with taking a moral stand in the fight against good versus evil.  In this regard he is no different than pre-WW2 German Jews who enjoyed attended concerts listening to compositions by the anti-Semitic Wagner whose legacy one historian described as helping “to define European anti-Semitism” and dubbed, “is nothing less than the sweeping imprint of racial ideology across the length and breadth of modern classical music.”  In other words, Gelb is furthering a legacy that justifies terrorism at the expense of its innocent victims.

I’m reminded of a school paper that my son wrote several years ago in 8th grade on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  In the margin next to the paragraph on the glorification of terrorists through the naming of streets and arenas after these murderers, his teacher, Mr. Friedman, circled the word terrorist and wrote, “Be very careful with your word choice.  One country’s terrorist is another’s hero.”  This is what our children are being taught in school – by fellow Jews! 

This must end!  This opera must be a wake-up call to all of us that anti-Semitism does not just exist in the Mideast and Europe.  It is being mainstreamed – it is flourishing – and it now exists in New York City opera houses in 2014.  Today we are mourning and it must end here.


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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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