JNS.org – New York’s Metropolitan Opera (Met) canceled an HD transmission of the anti-Israel opera The Death of Klinghoffer following significant outreach efforts from the Jewish community, but eight live performances of the opera will proceed as scheduled this fall.
The opera, about the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship and Palestinian terrorists’ murder of one of its Jewish passengers, has been heavily criticized for its sanitization of Palestinian terrorism and invoking of anti-Semitic canards. Klinghoffer’s daughters, Lisa and Ilsa, have written regarding the opera for The New York Times, “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.”
Myron Kaplan, senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), was the first commentator to publicly criticize the Met’s planned Nov. 15 simulcast of the anti-Israel opera. In an open letter to Gelb that was published by JNS.org, Kaplan wrote that the HD transmission would give “wide international distribution to what is, at its heart, an anti-Jewish slander,” Kaplan wrote.
Kaplan’s letter sparked a broader Jewish community campaign against the Met’s simulcast and live showings of the opera. The Met then announced Tuesday that it would pull the simulcast—but not its eight live performances of the opera from Oct. 20 to Nov. 15—following discussions between Met General Manager Peter Gelb and Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman.
“I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic,” Gelb said in a statement. “But I’ve also become convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.”
Gelb had responded to Kaplan’s letter that composer John Adams “has said that in composing ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ he tried to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists, as well as in their victims.” Kaplan responded to Gelb in a second letter for JNS.org, “The opera’s search for the ‘humanity’ of the murderers echoes the French saying that ‘to understand is to excuse,’ but one reason terrorism is a crime under international law is because terrorists deny the humanity of their victims.”