Photo Credit: JCCWatch.org
NYers will protest outside opening night of the Metropolitan Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer'

Peter Gelb has generated a drama worthy of an important new opera about the American Jewish community. And here, in The Jewish Press, is an exclusive of the cast and the story line.

Gelb is the managing director of the Metropolitan Opera. It was Gelb’s decision to stage John Adams’ opera about the terrorist murder of a disabled, elderly American man, Leon Klinghoffer. The Arab terrorists shot Klinghoffer in the head and in the chest and had him and his wheelchair thrown overboard as evidence of their unyielding position to swap innocent lives for convicted terrorist Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.

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Klinghoffer was selected for the sacrificial murder because he was a Jew. Not an Israeli, but a Jew.

John Adams, along with Alice Goodman (born a Reform Jew, now an anti-Semitic Anglican minister), who wrote the heinous librettos, in their own words, set out to “humanize” the terrorists. That is the goal of the opera.

For the past six months, a stalwart collection of grass roots activists, largely based in the New York City area, have been working to inform a critical mass of Americans that it was a grotesquely offensive decision to stage the Klinghoffer opera (falsely titled: the “Death of Klinghoffer” – he didn’t just die, just as Daniel Pearl did not just die – each was murdered because, as Jews, they were powerful propaganda tools).

Should a dramatist decide to write an opera about the sturm und drang on the streets of New York regarding the Klinghoffer opera, there would be three distinct types being cast.

PROUD KLINGHOFFER JEWS

The first type to be cast would be what we’ll call the Proud Klinghoffer Jews, PKJ. This is a new group of actors/activists on the scene. These are the ones who have been forged in the crucible created by years of passive Jewish leadership and streetwise but unwieldy passion. It has been unleashed by the staging of what many consider an inciteful (not insightful), anti-Semitic, philo-terrorist opera at a time of rising anti-Semitism and global terrorism. There would be starring roles amongst these singers.

One, certainly, would be Richard Allen, the fifty-something New York businessman who – completely against type – has emerged as the ultimate grass roots Jewish, effective pro-Israel activist. Allen is not a grandstander; he prefers to remain in the background, dishing out credit to his fellow activists the way most ringleaders dish out criticism. Instead of claiming credit, Allen gets the job done. The man is the ultimate terrier – he puts his teeth in the calves of organizations whose acts harm Israel, and does not let up until he has accomplished more than anyone thought possible.

Another player – probably a baritone would be cast – is Jeffrey Wiesenfeld. Wiesenfeld is a businessman but also a seasoned political operator, having worked in the D’Amato, Koch and Pataki administrations. More of an “insider” than Allen, Wiesenfeld sits on the board of the City University of New York (where he’s made waves of his own as a principled pro-Israel Jewish New Yorker). It is Wiesenfeld who is usually the master of ceremonies at the larger, more effective and unequivocally pro-Israel Jewish rallies in New York.

And a newcomer to the stage: Leonard J. Weiss. The ultimate White Knight who, very publicly, bolted from what had been his beloved Metropolitan Opera. Weiss, recognizing the stench of moral decay, chose to very publicly redirect the money he had been donating to the Met to assist in helping his new comrades create a public astringent, hoping to cleanse the rot.

And Weiss has led the way for other Jews to stand up against this desecration of art. Eugene Grant, a real estate developer, announced that he was suspending his $5 million gift to the Met.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Not so sure about that. C-Span broadcast a symposium that took place at the 92nd St Y in Manhattan a while back. One of the panelists was Arthur Gelb, father of said Peter Gelb. Arthur was a retired managing editor of the NY Times. I am paraphrasing what he said: “during the War (WWII) Sulzberger decreed that stories about acts against Jews were to be downplayed or not reported at all.” A person with a conscience might have resigned his position.

  2. The likelihood that this opera if a sincere apology for the murder driven by self-reflection on the part of the perpetrator is zero-to-none. So, why we must ask would the MET embrace this project. It bespeaks self-hatred at the highest levels of our society. Celebrating are the the Nazis and anti-Semitists. “Abomination” is the correct word. The lesson that need be taken from this is a whole other matter. I don’t believe it is to act like them, but rather practice teshuva “return” – a return to God and, more importantly, a return to the person we are meant to be.

  3. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone threw Peter Gelb, John Adams, along with Alice Goodman off of a balcony at the MET. Is that Artistic interpretation or freedom of speech. Personally I think it is like throwing garbage away.

  4. “Humanizing” terrorists makes Adams, Goodman and Gelb nothing less than terrorists. To try to justify CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY (last I checked, Jews were still considered members of humanity, though somewhat expendable at times) shows these three disgusting exemplars of depraved humanity as nothing more than murderous terrorists themselves!

  5. Not so sure about that. C-Span broadcast a symposium that took place at the 92nd St Y in Manhattan a while back. One of the panelists was Arthur Gelb, father of said Peter Gelb. Arthur was a retired managing editor of the NY Times. I am paraphrasing what he said: "during the War (WWII) Sulzberger decreed that stories about acts against Jews were to be downplayed or not reported at all." A person with a conscience might have resigned his position.

  6. The likelihood that this opera if a sincere apology for the murder driven by self-reflection on the part of the perpetrator is zero-to-none. So, why we must ask would the MET embrace this project. It bespeaks self-hatred at the highest levels of our society. Celebrating are the the Nazis and anti-Semitists. "Abomination" is the correct word. The lesson that need be taken from this is a whole other matter. I don't believe it is to act like them, but rather practice teshuva “return” – a return to God and, more importantly, a return to the person we are meant to be.

  7. AS disgusted as I am with Gelb…I can’t help but wonder why none of the musicians or singers haven’t taken a public stand. 1) why would they ever take the role in the first place and/or 2) since having heard of all the public outcry – and controversy…. walked away or at least be vocal. One’s principles should outweigh other pressures.

  8. "Humanizing" terrorists makes Adams, Goodman and Gelb nothing less than terrorists. To try to justify CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY (last I checked, Jews were still considered members of humanity, though somewhat expendable at times) shows these three disgusting exemplars of depraved humanity as nothing more than murderous terrorists themselves!

  9. AS disgusted as I am with Gelb…I can't help but wonder why none of the musicians or singers haven't taken a public stand. 1) why would they ever take the role in the first place and/or 2) since having heard of all the public outcry – and controversy…. walked away or at least be vocal. One's principles should outweigh other pressures.

  10. Could this be a “Springtime for Hitler” type of satire-against type..? Have not read the libretto nor listened to the “music” — and do not intend to.. As an abomination, really cannot go any further, would think..but with all anti-Semites (anti-Jewish) mindsets, this might just be the opening salvo. Wish I could go to New York an protest, vigorously, myself!!

  11. Could this be a "Springtime for Hitler" type of satire-against type..? Have not read the libretto nor listened to the "music" — and do not intend to.. As an abomination, really cannot go any further, would think..but with all anti-Semites (anti-Jewish) mindsets, this might just be the opening salvo. Wish I could go to New York an protest, vigorously, myself!!

  12. John Adams claims, in an interview, that the reason some people think his Klinghoffer opera should not be produced is that it’s “too sensitive.”
    The problem, though, is that the work’s libretto is in fact INsensitive, and disrespectful, to the expressed wishes of Klinghoffer’s family, and most of the Jewish community.
    I sympathize with them.
    But I also find it interesting that defenders of the Met production deplore those who condemn the opera without having seen it.
    It reminds me of the problems two operas had right after 9/11.
    One of them was this opera; the Boston Symphony decided not to perform choruses from it, out of sensitivity to the NY & DC victims.
    The other was a work commissioned from Marc Blitzstein for the Met in 1960 and completed by this writer in Feb. 2001. After the semi-staged premiere in CT in Aug. 2001, Opera News printed a diatribe against the opera’s completion by a man who had attended a symposium on the work, but no performance of it. This prompted what the magazine itself called “A Storm of Protest” letters – 14, of which they printed 5, including a supportive one from the Blitzstein family. But there was no follow-up; portraying anarchists (even innocent ones) as heroes was not what post-9/11 America wanted to see.
    So now the Met has put itself behind a work about a family that calls the piece anti-Semitic, compromising only in not sharing it with a world abroad that has become increasingly anti-Israel. Maybe, in the interests of balance, it should consider the piece written for it (much of it in Israel, in fact) that was praised by the family involved, and every critic who saw it:
    SACCO AND VANZETTI – by Marc Blitzstein and

    Leonard Lehrman

    See ljlehrman.artists-in-residence.com/SaccoAndVanzetti.html

  13. John Adams claims, in an interview, that the reason some people think his Klinghoffer opera should not be produced is that it's "too sensitive."
    The problem, though, is that the work's libretto is in fact INsensitive, and disrespectful, to the expressed wishes of Klinghoffer's family, and most of the Jewish community.
    I sympathize with them.
    But I also find it interesting that defenders of the Met production deplore those who condemn the opera without having seen it.
    It reminds me of the problems two operas had right after 9/11.
    One of them was this opera; the Boston Symphony decided not to perform choruses from it, out of sensitivity to the NY & DC victims.
    The other was a work commissioned from Marc Blitzstein for the Met in 1960 and completed by this writer in Feb. 2001. After the semi-staged premiere in CT in Aug. 2001, Opera News printed a diatribe against the opera's completion by a man who had attended a symposium on the work, but no performance of it. This prompted what the magazine itself called "A Storm of Protest" letters – 14, of which they printed 5, including a supportive one from the Blitzstein family. But there was no follow-up; portraying anarchists (even innocent ones) as heroes was not what post-9/11 America wanted to see.
    So now the Met has put itself behind a work about a family that calls the piece anti-Semitic, compromising only in not sharing it with a world abroad that has become increasingly anti-Israel. Maybe, in the interests of balance, it should consider the piece written for it (much of it in Israel, in fact) that was praised by the family involved, and every critic who saw it:
    SACCO AND VANZETTI – by Marc Blitzstein and

    Leonard Lehrman

    See ljlehrman.artists-in-residence.com/SaccoAndVanzetti.html

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