By Bruce Blakeman
On October 7, 1985, Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old Jewish U.S. citizen, was on a cruise on the Achille Lauro with his wife, Marilyn, to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary, when four hijackers from the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) took control of the liner off Egypt. It had been sailing from Alexandria to Port Said, Egypt.
The morning of the hijacking, many of the passengers had already disembarked at Port Said for a day trip to the Sphinx. It was impossible for Leon to get on and off tour buses, since he was wheelchair-bound, so he and Marilyn stayed on board.
The four Palestinian terrorists had planned to get off in Israel, just like the Klinghoffers. They had planned a terror attack and bloodbath in the port of Ashdod. But around midday on October 8, a ship’s steward discovered the Palestinian terrorists cleaning their guns. The Palestinians panicked. They couldn’t wait for Ashdod. They charged into the dining room while lunch was being served, shooting into the air. “Get down! Get down!” shouted the terrorists. Leon couldn’t get down. “Everyone to the deck!” the Palestinian terrorists demanded. Marilyn tried pushing Leon’s wheelchair, or even just staying with him, saying, “I’m not going anywhere without my husband.” She was forced to go to the deck, without her husband, at gunpoint. “Don’t worry,” said the Palestinian terrorist to Marilyn. “He’ll be taken care of.”
The ship’s passengers were forced to lie for hours in the sun. Marilyn’s head was smacked by a rifle butt.
As in Nazi Germany, as in the airport at Entebbe, the killers divided the prisoners: Jews here, non-Jews there. The Palestinian terrorists singled out Klinghoffer, a Jew, for murder, by shooting him in the forehead and chest as he sat in his wheelchair. “He couldn’t even defend himself,” said a fellow passenger, a witness to the cold-blooded murder. “They said he was useless anyway.” This horrific event, one example out of thousands of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel terror attacks, begs to be portrayed for what it is—a murderous hatred of Jews and of Israel.
On October 20, less than three weeks from today, the New York Metropolitan Opera is set to debut The Death of Klinghoffer, an opera that treats the victim and the perpetrators of a terrorist murder as morally equivalent. Many belonging to the New York liberal community have come out in support of an opera production that depicts and rationalizes anti-Semitism and the murder of Jews. At a time when Jew-hatred is on the rise around the globe, with anti-Semitic attacks occurring daily in the streets of European cities as well as on the streets of New York, the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb—a fellow Jew—has been commended for the Met being “true to its artistic mission.”
It is now fashionable to trash both Christians and Jews in the name of art. In 2012, a Manhattan art gallery held an exhibit that included a so-called work of art called Immersion (Piss Christ), which was defended by liberals as a work of art. The defenders of the Met’s decision to go on with the production of The Death of Klinghoffer seem to endorse the idea that hatred of Jews is something that may be justifiably debated rather than condemned—as would be the response to a production seen as racist.
The production of The Death of Klinghoffer is only the most recent example of how in recent years, anti-Semitism has crept in through the cracks from being a marginal occurrence to being accepted by mainstream society and given center stage at the Met for all the world to see and hear. That is exactly the meaning of an opera that equates terrorist and victim, and rationalizes the cold-blooded murderer of a wheelchair-bound man simply because he was a Jew.
The plague of anti-Semitism has grown in recent years, shaking Jewish communal life to its core. Mainstream society’s acceptance of anti-Semitic behavior and violence is largely in response to the glorification of terrorism when directed at Jews. Many of our Jewish liberal brethren are at the heart of this self-defeating tendency to deny the true implications of anti-Semitic content in all facets of activity: in the arts, in journalism, in economic policy, in academia—the list goes on and on.
This liberal attack on religion can only be explained in terms of both anti-Semitism and the belief that government should be the only religion in America. Government is not a religion, although the socialists believe that it is.
As a candidate for the 4th Congressional District, I will advocate legislation that will prohibit, by law, the use of taxpayer dollars on cultural expenditures that bring into the mainstream anti-Semitic and anti-Christian activities, and we can regain the moral high ground for all of America. v
Bruce Blakeman is the Republican candidate for New York’s 4th Congressional District. To learn more, visit bruceblakeman.com.