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Klinghoffer Opera Still Anti-Semitic
Tue, 07/15/2014 - 20:00

It is troubling that Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman asserts that because one of many anti-Semitic passages was removed, the “Death of Klinghoffer” opera to be performed at the Met is no longer anti-Semitic (“High Drama Over ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera,” June 27).

The opera still contains outrageous libels stating that Jews cheat, exploit, pollute virgins, defame, break laws, are idolaters, and get fat from the poor. By contrast, terrorists who murdered a disabled elderly American Jew sing, “We are soldiers fighting a war, we are not criminals, we are not vandals, we are men of ideals.” A passenger even sings that the terrorist “Omar” was “extremely nice.”

The opera’s falsification of history to malign Israel’s Jews (to “justify” murdering an American Jew) is also anti-Semitism. The opera DVD begins with a little Arab girl watching Jews shoot at, beat and chase Arab women and children from their homes. Israeli Jews are falsely accused of “razing” and “laying waste” to Arab homes in 1948. In fact, contemporaneous British police reports and numerous other independent sources documented that Israeli Jews begged the Arabs to stay in their homes and live together in peace. The Arab High Committee and seven Arab nations invading the fledgling State of Israel in 1948 told the Arabs to leave, to make the job of killing Israel’s Jews easier.

The opera also leaves the false impression that Jews massacred Muslims in Sabra and Shatilla as another “justification” for murdering Klinghoffer (when it was Christians who massacred Muslims), and portrays what the Nazis did to the Jews as similar to what Jews do to the Arabs.

The Met’s own form letter openly states that “Death of Klinghoffer” tries to show the “humanity of the terrorists.” Would the Met perform an opera showing the “humanity” of the murderers of three Israeli boys earlier this month, or the killers of gays, Muslims, blacks or Hispanics?

Especially in this time of increasing anti-Semitism, the Met should cancel its still-planned eight live performances of the opera this fall.

Morton Klein President, The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) 

Elizabeth Berney, Esq. Long-Island/Queens Region Executive Director, ZOA


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The composer is not simply trying to portray the minds of terrorists here. Rather, the composer is propagandizing for the "Palestinian" revisionist version of history as a means to justify terrorism. The composer stated in an interview that he read a lot of Edward Said - one of the foremost propagandists for "Palestinians." Composer Adams appears to have been influenced by Said. For instance, putting words and a false version of history into a characters' mouth - while never showing that the character's statements are false - is a typical propagandists' method of promoting the character's statements. "Death of Klinghoffer" presents its anti-Semitic views of American Jews and anti-Semitic falsification of Israel's history as factual, and uses a variety of methods to do so. No one ever contradicts the "Palestinian exile chorus"'s false statements that Israel destroyed Arab homes in 1948 and drove the Arabs out. The so-called "Jewish exile chorus" in fact supports the "Palestinian exile chorus." The "Jewish Exile chorus" criticizes Chassidim, claims to have come late to Israel with an empty suitcase, and, like the "Palestinian exile chorus," denies the long-time Jewish presence in Israel throughout the centuries. (For instance, Jews were in fact a majority in Jerusalem since the mid 1800s, and there were centuries-old Jewish communities in Hebron, Jerusalem, Sfat and elsewhere.) No one ever corrects the opera's false impression that Jews massacred Arabs in Sabra and Shatila (when it was Christians versus Muslims). Adams also belittles the Klinghoffers: Until she learns of her husband's death, Mrs. Klinghoffer is portrayed as a kvetch who just speaks about bodily ailments. By contrast, the terrorists are portrayed as "idealistic." Adams uses numerous other references and mechanisms (including the use of romantic music when the terrorists speak and trite music when Jews speak) to uplift the terrorists and denigrate their innocent victims. I'm happy to speak to your synagogue or other group about the opera at length and can be reached at

I'm sorry, but I have to strongly disagree with your stance on the issue with this opera. The composer was only trying to portray the minds of terrorists, the reasoning behind their actions, how they arrived at the point in time with that reasoning, and how their actions are lead by shared, emotional traits that all humans possess. Yes, the characters in the opera are anti-semetic, but Adams is not promoting their anti-semitism. Yes, their actions were horribly wrong, but so are many actions today by people of all races and religions. One is not supposed to look at the victims as the cause of the horrible murders, but as victims, plain and simple. One persons victim is another persons bully. One persons terrorist is another persons freedom fighter. Adams shows that all persons are human, regardless of how terrible that person is, and that they all love, possess anger, and can allow emotions to overcome rationality, and humanism. This is all he is trying to do.