By Larry Domnitch
American Jews have yet another chance to stand up against anti-Israel invective, where Palestinian terror is equated with the sufferings of its victims. The upcoming re-showing of the Opera ‘The Death of Leon Klinghoffer’, who was a disabled American Jew, murdered and thrown off the Achille Lauro ship in 1986, by Palestinian terrorists, is another example of such confused im-moral equivalence in which Israel bashing runs amok.
It is the narrative of Arab terrorists as the victims rather than the reality of being the aggressors who fight by any means against the existence of a Zionist state on any borders.
The Death of Klinghoffer contains anti-Semitic vitriol, promoting stereotypes. In one such line, “You Jews are always complaining of your own suffering, but you get fat off the poor, cheat the simple, exploit the virgin, pollute where you’ve been exploited-America is one big Jew.”
As it soon opens for the throngs of culture lovers, now is the time to stand up and decry such folly.
Almost ten years ago, on January 16, 2004, one individual took a stand. Israeli Ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, attended a Stockholm art show as part of an international conference on preventing genocide. At the event, there was a large exhibit venerating a Palestinian terrorist who murdered 21 Israelis at Haifa’s Maxim restaurant three months earlier. It was called, “Snow White and the Madness of Truth,” displaying a tiny sailboat floating on a rectangular basin of red water. On the boat was a photo of the female bomber Hanadi Jaradat, with a smile. Mazel reacted most undiplomatically. As an act of protest, he pulled the plugs out from three spotlights and knocked over one light fixture, which he had turned off. He was then asked to leave.
The ambassador explained that “The exhibit was the culmination of dozens of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish events in Sweden. When you don’t protest, it gets worse and worse. It had to be stopped somehow, even by deviating from the behavior of the bottomed down diplomat.”
The Israeli government backed Mazel. A statement read, “A formal protest would merely have been ‘duly registered,’ filtered and lost in the back channels of European diplomacy. So he chose to scream. But screaming was the only option Europe now gives Israel.”
Operas! Art exhibits! It’s all art, some argue. But it is hateful and biased. Should art arouse hatred? Klinghoffer’s daughters Elsa and Lisa, told the New York Times after viewing opera’s premier, “We are outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the cold blooded murder of our father as a centerpiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic” They added, “While we understand creative license, when it so clearly favors one point of view it is biased. Moreover, the juxtaposition of the plight of the Palestinian people with the coldblooded murder of an innocent disabled American Jew is both historically naïve and appalling.”
This type of production should disgust decent people.
But Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, vice president for philanthropy at the World Union for Progressive Judaism also saw the opera at its premier and expressed eagerness to see it again stating, “Great art is not meant to soothe, it’s meant to provoke.”
The Rabbi should have indeed felt provoked by the attacks upon Israel. He should have also felt enraged at the assassination of the truth!
Would the presentation of blood libel accusations as a pretext for a pogrom fit that bill as well? Or perhaps the reinventing of Protocols of the Elders of Zion for the stage, as an excuse to incite against the Jews! Would such displays of art be sufficiently provocative?
Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera in a letter to Myron Kaplan, a senior research analyst at CAMERA, an advocacy group supporting fair media coverage of Israel, called it “one of the most important musical compositions in the late 20th century.” So Mr. Gelb, what’s the next gem to be shown at the Met? The beheadings by Isis! The sufferings of the Christians of Iraq and other parts of the Middle East who have the audacity not to accept the imposition of Islam by fanatics!
Turning a blind eye to this insult against Israel solves nothing. It will only encourage more expressions of animus against Israel in the future. Look the other way and it will only get worse.
As the day of the opening approaches, concerned citizens have the opportunity to express their indignation and proclaim that there is no place in civilized society for justifying Jihad and disseminating anti-Israel and anti-Jewish vitriol.