Why is MET broadcasting antisemitism?
The Jewish News Service published an open letter
to Peter Gelb, general manager of The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln
Center in New York, concerning the HD transmission of a live performance
of the opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer."
The letter, written by Myron Kaplan, an analyst from the
organization CAMERA, which monitors anti-Israel and antisemitic media
for accuracy in reporting, calls upon the venerable Metropolitan Opera
to reject the opera for its "tendentious story line and an inflammatory
libretto that falsely maligns Israel and the Jewish people."
The opera is based on the 1985 murder of a 69-year-old American
Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, confined to a wheelchair, who was shot in
the head while vacationing with his wife on a cruise ship in the
Mediterranean Sea. He was murdered by Palestinian Arab hijackers
belonging to the Palestine Liberation Front, and his body dumped into
the water. As Kaplan points out, the opera would more appropriately be
titled, "The Murder of Klinghoffer."
Kaplan cites several examples of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel
lyrics from the opera. It has been reported that Klinghoffer’s two
daughters, Lisa and Ilsa, attended a New York production of the opera in
1991, which they described as "appalling" and "antisemitic."
In response to the open letter, the Met responded, in part, "'The
Death of Klinghoffer' is an opera about a terrible incident that has
become part of a pattern of violence that in the ensuing decades
continues to repeat itself. Mr. [John] Adams (composer) has said that in
writing the opera he tried to understand the hijackers and their
motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists, as well as in
their victims. Tom Morris, the director of the Met's new production,
believes that the opera’s most important contribution is in providing an
opportunity for the audience to wrestle with the almost unanswerable
questions that arise from this seemingly endless conflict.
"Since this opera dramatizes a horrific act of violence, the Met
acknowledges that some members of its audience may disagree with the
decision to present this work. However, the Met believes that in staging
it, audiences are being given the opportunity to hear one of the best
operas of the late 20th century."