Photo Credit: YouTube
A scene from the opera "Death of Klinghoffer." Protests at Lincoln Center start Sept. 22, at 4:30.

The most important thing to know about the Metropolitan Opera’s staging of the provocation piece “The Death of Klinghoffer,” is that the first of what should be many protests against it will be on Monday, Sept 22, starting at 4:30 p.m., at the Metropolitan Opera, which is nestled in the Lincoln Center Complex, at Broadway and West 65th Street in New York City.

The opera itself is still set to run at the Met for eight performances, starting on Monday, Oct. 20, running through mid-November. But in a concession that should serve as an admission, the Met pulled “Death” from its line-up of operas it simulcasts to theaters around the world.

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Why?

Because as Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager admitted in a statement issued in mid-June, the international Jewish community is genuinely concerned that “the live transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.” 

It beggars the imagination that Gelb and his board recognized and acted in deference to genuine concern about the effect the opera could have for Jews in Europe, but shuts his ears to the genuine concern and outrage over staging it in New York City, where there is one of the largest concentration of Jews in the world.

What is wrong with this opera, you ask?  Spending hours listening to scenes from the opera only undergirds the enmity expressed towards the opera by concerned ranks of the Jewish community.

AMERICAN JEWS GETTING FAT WHEREVER POOR PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING

There are lines in this opera that are simply blatantly anti-Semitic. Lines such as this, sung by one of the terrorists to Klinghoffer: “wherever poor people are gathered they can find Jews getting fat. America is one big Jew.”

And then there is this line sung about the Jews: “You know how to cheat the simple, exploit the virgin, pollute where you have exploited, defame those you cheated, and break your own law with idolatry.”

Yes, those lines are both flat-footed and bigoted and should not have been written nor sung. If you think not, can you imagine an opera made about Ferguson in which Michael Brown and all black people are described with all the worst stereotypical insults leveled at African Americans? Of course not.

But the problems with the opera go far beyond several unforgivably offensive lines spoken by a romanticized Arab terrorist. And it’s even worse than the decision to title the opera using a magic wand that converts a pathological act of brutal violence into a passive act for which no one, at least not the actual murderer and his accomplices, are to blame.

KLINGHOFFER DID NOT JUST ‘DIE’

Leon Klinghoffer did not just “die.”

On Oct. 7, 1985, Leon Klinghoffer was murdered in cold blood by Arab terrorist members of the Palestine Liberation Front. Klinghoffer was shot point blank in the head and in the chest as he sat in his wheelchair on the deck of the cruise ship on which he was traveling with his wife to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary. Shot in the head and in the chest, and then thrown overboard, he and his wheelchair, simply because he was a Jew. A 69-year old disabled American Jew. It was murder, not death. If there must be an opera about this atrocity, at least have the decency to use the proper term.

ART MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY?

The opera begins with two choruses. The “Chorus of Exiled Palestinians” and the “Chorus of Exiled Jews.” The story of the “Exiled Palestinians” starts in 1948. It starts with the Jews arriving and destroying the homes of the “Palestinians.” Those homes where “no one was turned away” and the doorway had been worn down from all the guests. But then, as the crescendo builds, the chorus intones:

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the JewishPress.com. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com

41 COMMENTS

  1. Is Peter Gelb insane, to have an anti-Semitic "opera" in the middle of Manhattan. ?Any Jew or gentile who participate in this outrage is a terrorist. Anti-Semitism creates the Holocaust. I assume most opera lovers contribute financially to the Met. They should stop supporting the Met, boycott the Met, Gelb should instantly be fired, what a "shmock", why is he doing that?
    Holocaust survivor

  2. The Met is already in deep financial woe: Does the egotist and sorry excuse for manager Peter GelD/GelT think to encourage future patrons of the arts by his mendacious support for this ugly travesty? Sponsors of the Met are already pulling their longtime season's tickets from the organization, and earmarking the monies for more providential and less scrofulous recipients and causes. Can the Met afford this pointless notoriety, and why indeed should it attack its broadly supportive Jewish and caring non-Jewish patrons in this fashion, especially at a time of horrific and rising anti-Semitic attacks in our very country and city?
    What is Geld/Gelt being threatened with, or how is he personally pocketing benefit from his unprecedented flouting of decency and truth?
    He will capsize the limping Met, to no avail. His hubris is oceanic, pathetic and pusillanimous. His vision is 300:300–myopic and blind.

  3. What can be done, ultimately? Archbishop Tutu, four years AFTER receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, reinserted the Imprecations Prayers into the Easter Services of the South African 1989 Prayerbook. People welcome this horrific bigot into their midst with words normally reserved for saints. The same is true here. In the end, the more we complain about this garbage, it seems, the more money they rake in & the more they get to say they are "victims" of Jews.

  4. So anyone who attends a performance of this opera is a terrorist? I wasn't planning to go, but now that some ultra-rightwing circle-the-wagons MO-RON would accuse me of "terrorism" I just might, even if it bores me and my wife to tears. BTW, I'm a big Wagner fan. Does that make me a Nazi?

  5. I remember when Klinghoffer was murdered by the PLO butchers. I was a little boy in second grade but I will never forget it. In the days before moral relativists sanitised these evil people and deemed them moderate.
    How typical of the MET who has a long history of displaying offensive works of pornography, filth, and hate, masquerading as art.

  6. When this "opera" premiered in 1991–in both NYC and in Brussels–it did not get the criticism/protests that it deserves. I am glad that today's generation is standing up and calling it what it is–not art, but another way to get anti-Semitism in front of the public.

  7. Dan Silagi,
    To support an anti-Semitic opera when anti- Semitism is on the rise all over the globe, preparing for another Holocaust by Islamo Fascist is showing how you think. We are in the war against terrorism and you are supporting it. By all means see the opera with your wife, now we know on which side you and other sympathizer of terror are. So you think I am a moron, thank you for the compliment.

  8. Dan Silagi , without getting caught up in words and emotions, the question is would you see an opera written to explain the feelings that "rationalize" why the 9/11 terrorists chose to kill 3,000 Americans? Of course not. This is a scary time around the world and unless we want to see beheadings in America, and radical Islam spreading here we need to show that there is NEVER an excuse for barbaric murder to try to further your own political cause. I should hope that you agree with that.

  9. It is pure and simple anti-Semitism in front of the public. When American Jews and their charitable foundations stop supporting the New York Metropolitan Opera and other cultural institution that promote anti-Semitism under the disguise of free speech and human rights It will hopefully stop !

  10. It's not a bad idea to learn how some people think the way they do, starting with Hitler himself. What I object to is that some right-wing jerks here say that anyone who might want to so so is an anti-Semite and a "terrorist."

  11. The sin is this hideous act of murder is now being legitimized by the Metropolitan Opera production. It is not 'art' it is polished anti-Semitism. What's next an ISIL opera on the beheading of James Foley.
    The horror is it's the same and our highest cultural institution gives it support.

  12. It is a bitter pill that is coated in sugar. There is no humor in sadness. What is bad shall remain bad. This is a question of taste. I am not a Mapplethorpe fan and this play is as perverted as he was.

  13. Find a way to have the Opera not be performed. Let the Met fail a safety or health inspection? Get a list of all who purchased tickets so we can picket them? Hand out information that tells the truth of Jews in Israeli territory? Get a Court injunction to close it down based on false information? Some person that is more "creative" than I am will come up with something?

  14. Stop the opera by calling & emailing the Metropolitan Opera's Director Peter Gelb.

    Here's my email,

    "Mr. Gelb,

    Hate dressed up as art is still hate. Please cancel the anti-Semitic show “The Death of Klinghoffer”. In an attempt to create "dialogue" The New York Metropolitan Opera has become a tool of an organized effort that utilizes a sick tactic in the propaganda war against Israel & Jews by delegitimizing their history, rights as a people and nation; rewrites history and draws a moral equivalence between the acts of the Nazis, Israel & Jews today.

    There's a major difference between showing a human component to an evil character or movement and failing or purposely not reflecting an accurate history of events. As you know the show creates sympathy for the terrorists by comparing the Warsaw Ghetto to the Israeli separation barrier. Curious as to why the show would open with the wall to set the tone considering Klinghoffer was murdered in 1985 & the separation wall that Israel built to stop the Palestinians from launching suicide bombings against its civilians was constructed & completed in the 2000's. Needless to say the show fails to provide an accurate historical context of the creation of the modern State of Israel and the war launched against the Jews & Israel prior to any refugee "issue".

    The combination of selling a false history and giving voice to the terrorists with lines like, “Wherever poor men are gathered, they can find Jews getting fat” results in a false dialogue. The title of the opera is suspect by itself because the word "Death" was purposely selected instead of "Murder". Klinghoffer was murdered. Why isn't the word "Murder" being used in the title if not to try and soften the act of hate and violent murder that was committed against an American Jew and his family?

    I seriously doubt you would put on an opera and try to sell it as an attempt at “dialogue” if the KKK wrote an opera, or if an opera rewrote the history of slavery & the civil rights movement & gave undo sympathy to the people lynching African Americans.

    Thank you for your consideration".

    Stop the opera! Call or email Peter Gelb, director of the Metropolitan Opera, & demand the cancellation of the anti-Semitic & pro terror propaganda opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer": 212-799-3100, ext. 2891, pgelb@metopera.org

  15. DONE! I would like to take this opportunity to bring attention to the antisemitic rantings of David Icke of the UK. He has a tremendous following and will be speaking at Wembley Arena in Oct. Please write to them and protest his aiding and abetting of antisemitism. His rhetoric is potentially very dangerous. If you would like to research him first, he has a web site and a page on Facebook. I have also written to Jewish organizations in London. TY

  16. I wrote to the Met, to the board and its LEADER…they are perfectly aware of the anti-Semitism this so called opera exudes. They did cancel a web performance….admitting it could likely cause ill feelings… so why they have no issue with having it done live…is beyond me! In todays world…inciting hatred crosses the line of free speech.

  17. I'm considerably larger than you, runt, gauging by your picture. But if you insist on coming to NJ, and calling me a Nazi directly to my face, bring it on, you ultra-right imbecile. Just in case there's any doubt in your mind, I voted for Obama..

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