On August 19, the world woke up to the horrific news that an American reporter, James Foley, was brutally murdered by an Islamic Jihad called ISIS. Foley, who was captured by this terrorist group was viciously beheaded in order to send a message to President Obama, that American attempts to oppose them would result in more beheadings and massacres. Approximately two weeks later on September 2, ISIS struck again, beheading thirty one-year-old Steven Sotloff, whose mother had just pleaded for her sons release on humanitarian grounds. For the record, Foley and Sotloff were not the only individuals murdered in cold blood by ISIS, as recent reports have indicated that they have summarily shot hundreds of people who refused to succumb to their religious demands, throwing those bodies into mass graves.
Strikingly, there was nary a protest or condemnation of these actions by Hamas, Hezbollah , Palestinian Authority or their thousands of human rights supporters around the world. One begins to wonder whether or not they were being hypocritical and exhibiting a double standard or whether in fact they felt some type of justification in Foley’s murder. Nonetheless, the Western world was reviled and filled with a sense of disgust for the terrorists who massacred innocent men. I too, was filled with contempt for the perpetrators, unable to find any justification or excuse for their actions. That was until I came upon the much lauded work of John Adams and Alice Goodman , whose cultural feat, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” has reached the point of acclaim that Peter Gelb and the Metropolitan Opera have decided to highlight it this upcoming season.
Amazingly enough, this “important” piece of culture provides rationalizations for the murder of a 69-year-old wheelchair-bound Jew, Leon Klinghoffer, who was shot and thrown overboard while celebrating his 36th anniversary with his wife and 11 friends on a cruise of the Mediterranean. Interestingly, the opera sanitizes the murder…and simply labels it as “The Death of Klinghoffer” as if he happened to die while on the Achille Lauro, a cruise ship which coincidently happened to be hijacked by Palestinian “freedom fighters.”
While Mr. Gelb has recognized that this piece of art has seriously offended the surviving relatives of Mr. Klinghoffer and has been viewed by many in the Jewish community as anti-Semitic, he has resisted all calls for canceling the performance, saying that the performance is designed to be thought-provoking.
This made me think. Perhaps Mr. Gelb is right. Perhaps ISIS is only a bunch of disenfranchised freedom fighters simply looking to express their religious freedom. Perhaps their frustration level with the West runs so deep that they felt they had no choice but to bring about the death of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Perhaps both were not really beheaded but rather simply died. Perhaps if the Western world were to open up and engage ISIS in dialogue, as former President Carter suggested Israel do with Hamas, the lives of other ISIS hostages could be spared.
To be perfectly logical, accepting Gelb’s approach to understand the mindset of the terrorist, should lead us to understanding and perhaps empathizing with ISIS and their ilk. Accordingly, sponsors and guests of “The Death of Klinghoffer” opera, should eagerly sponsor it’s logical sequel of, “The Passing of Foley and Sotloff.”
If however you find no distinction between the brutal beheading of innocent American reporters by Islamic Jihadists and the vicious murder of a wheelchair-bound elderly Jew, by the movement which spawned terrorist attacks on Western targets, I strongly suggest that you not attend this particular opera.
Where do Mr. Howard Solomon and Mrs Sarah Billinghurst Solomon, recently honored by the Met, stand on the issue of killing innocents? Does Deutsche Bank, one of the corporate sponsors of the Met, endorse the notion that Israel is to be equated with Nazi Germany? Aren’t they aware that the play opens with Palestinians complaining about their oppression against the backdrop of a scene from that equates the Warsaw Ghetto to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, intending to signal that Israel is today’s Nazi? Are sponsors comfortable with the characterization in the opera of America as “one big Jew”? Is this markedly different from labeling New York as “Hymietown”? Do Gelb and the patrons of the arts honestly believe the part of the libretto that proclaims “Whenever poor men are gathered they can find Jews getting fat? You know how they cheat the simple, exploit the virgin.”
We should challenge Gelb and the patrons of Opera to cancel this particular event and admit that promoting an anti-Semitic, pro-Jihadist culture is not culture at all. Patrons of the Met will be celebrating the opening season with a special dinner at the MET’s annual Gala on Monday evening September 22 .
Approximately 300 students from Rambam Mesivta High School for Boys and Shalhevet High School for Girls will be joining others in a peaceful protest outside the MET’s Gala reception as its patrons arrive, asking them to follow Mr Gelb’s advice and ‘think’ about their continued support of this upcoming, anti – Semitic performance.