Jewish groups in New York will be protesting the presentation of an opera called “The Death of Klinghoffer,” which they say is anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. According to a spokesperson for Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI), “this opera should be entitled, “The Murder of Klinghoffer.”
First produced in Brussels and New York in 1991, the opera is based on the hijacking of the passenger liner Achille Lauro by the Palestine Liberation Front in 1985, and the hijackers' murder of wheelchair-bound Jewish-American passenger Leon Klinghoffer. The opera seeks to describe the reasons behind the hijacking, portraying it as an act of desparate liberation on the part of the PLO freedom fighters, AFSI said.
According to its producers, the opera seeks to give “equal voice to both sides of the Middle East controversy,” but many of those who have attended – including Lisa Klinghoffer and Ilsa Klinghoffer, the daughters of Leon and his wife Marilyn Klinghoffer – said that the production was full of anti-Semitic stereotypes and anti-Israel propaganda.
The opera is set to play at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City this fall, and AFSI said it would hold protests all summer until the Met agreed to cancel the performances. Sponsoring the protests is AFSI and “a coalition of concerned citizens, first responders, 9/11 victims, protesting against an opera that asks for sympathy for terrorists and preaches hatred against Jews,” the organization said.
“The Met is asking audiences to 'look for the humanity in the terrorists, asking people to accept them as 'men of ideals,'” the group said. “We cannot romanticize terrorists and idealize their evil executions. The vicious anti-Semitic libels that are contained in the libretto, and the historical revisionism of the Israeli/Arab war of 1948 are extremely offensive and dangerous at any time, but especially egregious today when terrorists are terrorizing and killing civilians world-wide.”