Don't Just Blame "Klinghoffer", Blame Yourselves

Protesting, while important, is not the answer. The Jewish intellectual community can do better.

Giulio Meotti

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צילום: עצמי

The Metropolitan Opera is ready for the premiere of “The Death of Klinghoffer” by John Adams. The director of the Met, Peter Gelb, has not succumbed to the demands of the Jewish community to suspend Adams’ work. There is also a website:

The campaign to boycott the Adams opera, however, had an unprecedented effect in the history of the Met: the theatre simulcast has been canceled and the family of Leon Klinghoffer was offered the opportunity to let the people know their opinion on the opera.

For Adams fans and Mr. Gelb, the opera is a religious drama, like the Greek tragedies, the Passions of Bach, the Persian Taziyeh or an oratorio by Handel. Everybody knows that John Adams’ opera is pure anti-Semitism. That is why it has been modified since it first came out in 1991.

The Met’s proscenium will be covered with yellowish sand. The sand of "Palestine". There are two graffiti: “Warsaw, 1943, Bethlehem, 2005”. And Arab terroristas will be justified for their “idealism”.

Musicologist Richard Taruskin wrote in The New York Times that one of the problems of Adams’ “Klinghoffer” is that the Palestinian chorus is followed by the chorus of the neighbors of the disabled Jew murdered by Arab terrorists. They gossip about the upcoming cruise in the Mediterranean. The portrait of the suffering Palestinian Arabs is thus compared to the portrait of the vulgar and materialistic American Jews.

Anti-Jewish terrorism should never be edifying. This is John Adams' problem: his opera creates a tension, a sense of restless waiting, which leads to emotional release on the part of the public, a fatal and sinister catharsis nourished by moral equivalence between terrorists and Jewish victims.

I understand why so many Jews in New York protested against the opera. And I agree with them. But the Jewish intellectual community, the Jewish élite, should first blame themselves.

Protests act as a palliative to make this ongoing war against the Jews easier to bear.

Anti-Semites have artists such as John Adams and the world's most important theatres at their beck and call. Philo-Semites and Jews have only blogs.

Why isn’t there a single Jewish artist who created a counter “Klinghoffer” opera? Where are all the Jewish writers?

Why have Israeli artists left the massacres of the Second Intifada unheard, unseen?

Is it possible that all that US Jewry has to offer to the public is the sexual pathology of Philip Roth, the psycho-convulsions of Woody Allen or the homosexual melancholy of Tony Kushner?

Why don't Jewish artists such as David Mamet produce art which stands for Israel and truth?

Instead of trying to ban operas, which, to some, makes it seem that Jews are moving closer to the Muslim fanatics who in Europe are destroying freedom of expression by banning operas such as “Aisha”, Jews should compete with anti-Semites on their own ground. That of journalism and culture. Israel and world Jewry are losing that battle because of their own lack of self-confidence.

Leon Klinghoffer, who was killed in my beautiful Italian sea, with the complicity of my cowardly political authorities, deserved more than prayers and protests in New York. He deserved an opera immortalizing his Jewish martyrdom for the generations to come.