This Monday, starting at 4:30 p.m. ET, a rally is taking place on the steps of Lincoln Center. The rally is intended to give a voice and add faces to the ongoing furor over the Metropolitan Opera staging a wildly anti-Semitic opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer.”
The opera was first staged in 1991, and is based on the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, by Palestinian Arab terrorists. The initial goal of the hijackers was to hold the ship, passengers and crew hostage until 50 convicted Palestinian Arab prisoners were released from Israeli jails.
Instead, the terrorists negotiated for safe passage in exchange for the release of the ship, passengers and crew, with one exception. The terrorists singled out a 69 year old disabled Jew, confined to a wheelchair. When the Arab prisoners were not released by the pre-set hour, the terrorists shot Klinghoffer through the head and chest, and had the old dying man, along with his wheelchair, thrown overboard.
The many ways in which the opera, especially the libretto, written by Alice Goodman (born a reform Jew, now an Anglican priest) are an insult to the memory of Leon Klinghoffer, is anti-Semitic, ahistorical, engages in the most grotesque moral equivalence and romanticizes the terrorists while degrading the Jews has been the subject of many articles, including a recent one in The Jewish Press.
An important story – one on some levels even more important than the staging of this monstrous “work of art” in New York City – is the level of activity engaged in by concerned citizens who were so disturbed by having the opera staged in their midst that they have spent months working to ensure that as many people as possible are educated about its significant flaws, and ensuring that as many people as possible participate in this effort.
A careful review of the participants and sponsors of the effort to get the Metropolitan Opera to cancel the engagement, and after that proved (at least until now) unsuccessful, reveals several important points.
Not one mainstream Jewish organization has lent its name or its resources to this effort.
The Anti-Defamation League did initially engage in negotiations with the Met, but it considered its work done when the Met agreed to remove this heinous opera from the list of work it sends out across the globe in simulcast. While that was an important success, the failure to convince the Met to cancel the eight performances of “Klinghoffer” in New York is simply unfathomable. Had the ADL cast the result as a sad loss and continued in its fight to convince the Met not to stage the opera at all, then that organization would be included in the list of stalwart defenders of Jewish pride. Instead, the ADL joins the sadly long list of major Jewish organizations, all of which have budgets which far exceed any of the participating organizations, which have gone missing when it came to leadership on this issue.
The mostly small, and some quite tiny pro-Israel organizations which have been working tirelessly to fight the Met’s decision to stage “Klinghoffer” are (this is all of them): Advocates for Israel, AMCHA, Americans for a Safe Israel, the Bridge Project, Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art, Catholic League, Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign, Congregation Oheb Zedek, Congregaton Or Zarua, Endowment for Middle East Truth, Hasbara Fellowship, Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam, International Committee for the Land of Israel, Israel Forever Foundation, Israel’s Voice, JCCWatch.org, Jewish Action Alliance, JewishJewish Political Education Foundation, MERCL, Mothers Against Terrorism, One Israel Fund, Rambam Mesivta High School, Shalhevet High School for Girls, Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, Strength to Strength, Westchester Hebrew High School, Zionist Organization of America.