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.
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.Lori Lowenthal Marcus