Photo Credit: Richard Lobell
NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.

The protest lasted for hours and more than two dozen speakers shared their personal and organizational objections to the “Death” opera. As Knesset member Nissim Zeev pointed out when it was his turn to speak, “Met,” as in the Metropolitan Opera, means “died” in Hebrew. Was that a prediction or a description of the Met?

Helen Freedman, longtime Zionist advocate and executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel, also spoke to the huge crowd of protesters. She asked, “who is funding this opera?” There is an anonymous funder of the Klinghoffer opera.

Lincoln Center, site of the Metropolitan Opera, was the site of a rally protesting the staging of the ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ opera. Sept. 22, 2014.
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The administration of West Chester Hebrew High School, Rambam and Yeshiva Hebrew High School were immediately supportive of having students come to join in the protest. Three speakers from WCHHS and YHHS spoke out eloquently against staging the opera at the Metropolitan Opera.

High school students from (R and L) West Chester Hebrew High School, and DRS High School (C) spoke at the rally opposing the Klinghoffer opera on Sept. 22, 2014.

Dr. Paul Brody of the Coalition to Stop the Terrorist Opera, read a message blasting the opera from Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl HY’D.

Dr. Paul Brody reading the letter from Dr. Judea Pearl

More than 400 Rambam and Shalhevet students joined over a thousand demonstrators across from the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, and on the plaza, on September 22nd, to vigorously protest the production of the pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

At center of Rambam students is Rosh Mesivta, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, with his son Aaron, Director of Operations to his right; Dr. Paul Brody of the Coalition to Stop the Terrorist Opera, next to his son, Rambam freshman Joey Brody, holding sign with freshman Itai Eliach, standing next to his father, Rabbi Yotav Eliach, Principal. Hillel Goldman, assistant Principal, is behind them, hoisting protest sign.

Beth Gilinsky, executive director of the National Conference for Jewish Affairs, spoke clearly and forcefully. Her speech crystalized much of what many of the other speakers and sponsors felt. An excerpt from Gilinsky’s talk follows:

I’d like to tell you a true story. Some years ago, I was invited to a party in Manhattan. I was one of only a couple of Americans there, and the rest of the guests were Arab ambassadors and consular officials.

After dinner, a guest decided to tell a joke: “What does P.L.O. stand for?”

The room went quiet. Someone said, “I don’t know, what does P.L.O. stand for?”

The jokester stood up and said, “P.L.O.! Push Leon OVER!”

Loud, cruel laughter filled the room. At first I didn’t understand, and the man next to me, between fits of laughter, explained, “Leon! Leon Klinghoffer, of course! As the laughter continued, I got up and left.

Ladies and Gentlemen: this kind of callous disregard for human suffering and contempt for innocent victims of terrorist violence has sadly mushroomed to the point where, here we are, standing here at Lincoln Center, a place that once represented everything fine and beautiful and uplifting, and now is sullied by having sold its soul in celebration of terrorism.

I ask the following of the Metropolitan Opera Board and management, and of those who are considering attending this artistic abomination called “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

Have you no shame?

Have you no feeling for the Klinghoffer family?

Have you no feeling for the victims of terror in Israel? And the victims of terror across the globe? How about those right here in New York?

Have you no feeling for the Christians now being massacred in small villages in the Middle East?

No feeling for the women and young girls who are being raped and mutilated and beaten, burned, disfigured and sold as slaves? No feeling for the children witnessing public beheadings?

What would it take to make you give up this ill-conceived opera and understand that what you are doing is not art, it is DANGEROUS! What would it take for you to open your eyes an see — a public beheading by ISIS for Metropolitan Opera-goers to witness as they sip their champagne on the balcony?

The gunman who shot Leon Klinghoffer to death confessed that they chose a disabled, paralyzed senior citizen “so that everyone would know that we did not have any pity for anyone.”

And yet, composer John Adams has said that he wants the audience to understand the “humanity” of the terrorists.

The thousands of protesters were informed that if the Metropolitan decides to continue with its ill-advised plan to stage the “Death” Opera, there will be another protest on Oct. 20th, starting at 6:30 p.m., again in front of Lincoln Center Plaza, where the Metropolitan Opera is located. For this opera there will be protesters in 100 wheelchairs.

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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

45 COMMENTS

  1. This is about respect for the dead. Klingerhoff's surviving children have said “We are outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the cold-blooded murder of our father as the centerpiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic.”

    If this so is so desperately important to show, show it somewhere else. Don't grant this opera any legitimacy by showing it at the Met Opera.

  2. Don't let the Met Opera make money off a murder victim.

    Leon Klinghoffer's surviving children have said “We are outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the cold-blooded murder of our father as the centerpiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic.”

  3. what about Alex Odeh and my claim for the reward? I''ve assigned a portion of it to the Odeh Estate and to the Progressive List For Peace! This type of staging the “Death of Klinghoffer” hate is prohibited by US law and which is why I advocate the establishment of a UN Regional Human Rights Terrorism Court in East Jerusalem as I proposed to UNESCO Amman and which was endorsed by Ehud Olmert when I was a student at Portland State University and Portland Community College and had an interview scheduled to meet with Olmert and his special assistant to establish a trade agreement and said UN Court under a Regional UN Security Arrangement and Mid East Peace Treaty

  4. Buy a ticket. Go see it. No one has censored art. No one would dream of trying to stop the writing of the libretto. The Metropolitan Opera has the right to put this opera on. I have a right to object to that choice. They do not put on every opera ever written. Do not mix up free speech and censorship with s supposed right to have something performed on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. I am sure it would peak your interest to see an opera that glorified, or at least understood, the point of view of lynch mobs. Moral equivalency seems quite popular to Mr. Gelb. As to Donald Levinson, I am a Democrat who is quite riled up. Cong. Elliot Engel is a Democrat. This is not a left right divide. Peter Gelb wants it to be so, but it isn't.

  5. I heard that "John, the Humanitarian Mujahideen" will open on 9/11 of next year. It will be an interactive show, with his asking for volunteers from the audience to demonstrate the proper way to behead a person.

  6. Suppose we changed some of the plot.Instead of a Jewish American being killed by an Arab it was an Italian in a wheel chair shot by a Russian?It would simply be called a murder which cannot be justified!
    However Klinghoffer was a Jew so murdering the poor man was acceptable,after all Jews are supposed to be murdered,aren't they?When Jews are murdered it is called political activism.

  7. Shame! Shame! Shame! Question? Where are the major Jewish Organizations such as AJC, ADL, JCC, etc? Where was Gov. Cuomo?
    Where was Hillary and Bill Clinton? Where was the Major of N.Y.-Bill De Blasio? NOWHERE! I am quite certain that back in the days of the JDL and Rabbi Kahane, this disgraceful "event" would not have occurred. Shame on the Met and Shame on those fools who will actually attend this outrage! Mr. Gelb should regret looking at himself each morning in the mirror while he shaves!

  8. Dan Silagi If you believe in something then why would you want to hide your identity. Now you claim it is harassing and intimidating not censorship. Supporting terrorism and anti semitism is OK according to you. By the way when are you coming to tell me all these nice things? I"m waiting.

  9. Lincoln Center and the Met – its jeweled centerpiece now forever tarnished – could not have been brought into existence without the enormous financial generosity of philanthropic Jews. I hope ethical contributors of all faiths and ethnicities will now leave off their current and future funding. What a terrible shame!!!!!!

  10. I saw the opera last night at the Met, opening night. I did not see any romanticization or glorification of terrorism. The murder was shown as a senseless act of violence, and the human tragedy and loss was movingly portrayed. Honestly I do not understand what all the protests were based on. Opera often has murder in it, this is not a support of murder. Carmen gets killed, that is not a glorification of murder. The daughter of Rigoletto gets killed, that is not a glorification of murder. And neither is the Death of Klinghoffer a glorification of murder or terrorism.

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