Trending Topics:

After ADL says opera is ‘biased’ toward Palestinians, Met cancels broadcast, citing rising anti-Semitism

on 82 Comments
Foxman and the vice president at ADL centennial gala last week

Foxman and the vice president at ADL centennial gala last week

Amazing. The Metropolitan Opera has cancelled the simulcast of its performances of the opera The Death of Klinghoffer after protests from the Anti-Defamation League on behalf of the “Jewish community” alleging that an opera that exhibits sympathy to Palestinian terrorists will contribute to global anti-Semitism.

“I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-semitic,” Peter Gelb, general manager for the Met, said in a statement, “but I’ve also become convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.”

Gelb reflected the Anti-Defamation League’s own statement here. The ADL says that the 1991 opera is “biased” toward the Palestinian perspective:

ADL noted that while the opera itself is not anti-Semitic, there is a concern the opera could be used in foreign countries as a means to stir up anti-Israel sentiments or as a vehicle to promote anti-Semitism.

The ADL says its opposition was driven by the objection of Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters that the opera is biased, because it shows sympathy to the Palestinian terrorists who murdered him in 1985.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, have long held serious objections to the opera’s biased portrayal of their father’s death and its sympathetic view of his killers. The Met’s co-production with English National Opera is scheduled to premiere in New York on October 20.

WQXR says that the Anti-Defamation League drove the decision:

The Met said it decided to cancel the broadcasts after a series of discussions between its general manager Peter Gelb and Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. 

WQXR notes the unprecedented nature of the censorship:

The Met says it will include a message from the Klinghoffer daughters both on its Playbill and on its website during the eight stage performances of the opera, which take place from October 20 to November 15.

This is the first time that the Met has cancelled an HD broadcast since the series launched in 2006. The broadcasts are transmitted to 2,000 movie theaters in 67 countries around the world, including Israel.

So the Metropolitan has bowed to the objections of a family to a portrayal of a historic event. This is further evidence of the American Jewish community, such as it is, committing intellectual suicide.

The classical music station got this statement from the opera’s author:

John Adams, whose operas have been seen at the Met in recent seasons, condemned the cancellation. “My opera accords great dignity to the memory of Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer, and it roundly condemns his brutal murder,” he said in a statement provided by his publisher. “It acknowledges the dreams and the grievances of not only the Israeli but also the Palestinian people, and in no form condones or promotes violence, terrorism or anti-Semitism.”

Adams added, “The cancellation of the international telecast is a deeply regrettable decision and goes far beyond issues of ‘artistic freedom,’ and ends in promoting the same kind of intolerance that the opera’s detractors claim to be preventing.”

The Guardian:

Composed in 1991, The Death of Klinghoffer depicts the Palestine Liberation Front’s 1985 hijack of an Italian cruise ship. One man was murdered in the stand-off with authorities: 69-year-old Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish-American tourist.

The Anti-Defamation League lobbied against the production and claimed victory in the cancellation of the simulcast. It says that the opera is “biased” and could be used to foment anti-Semitism. My lord:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the Metropolitan Opera’s decision to cancel a global simulcast of the controversial John Adams opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” in response to concerns that the opera’s biased portrayal of events surrounding the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro could foment anti-Semitism globally or legitimize terrorism…

The decision came after a series of conversations between Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, representing the wishes of the Klinghoffer family, and Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Foxman raised the Jewish community’s concerns about the opera’s flawed attempt to dramatize the 1985 hijacking and the death of Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish American tourist who was shot in the head by Palestinian terrorists and pushed overboard in his wheelchair, and its implicit justification of terrorism through the juxtaposition of Palestinian and Jewish suffering.

The children of Klinghoffer said they have nothing against art, but (also from the ADL):

Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer stated: “The Death of Klinghoffer” perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to romanticize, rationalize, legitimize and explain it. The political approach of the composer and librettist is evident with the opera’s disingenuous and dangerous juxtaposition of the plight of the Palestinian people with the coldblooded, terrorist murder of an innocent disabled American Jew.

“We are strong supporters of the arts, and believe that theater and music can play a critical role in examining and understanding significant world events. “The Death of Klinghoffer” does no such thing.  Its rationalization of terrorism and false moral equivalencies provide no thoughtfulness or insight.”

Here’s more protest against the show from two rightwing pro-Israel groups:

In a joint project, National Conference on Jewish Affairs, based on the east coast, and Advocates for Israel, based on the west coast, are calling on members of the Jewish community across the country and abroad, as well as all friends of Israel, to step up now to prevent a truly disgraceful anti-Israel, anti-Semitic opera from being featured at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House….

We are organizing major protests at the Met for opening gala night and the opening of “The Death of Klinghoffer”.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

82 Responses

  1. Kay24 on June 18, 2014, 12:22 pm

    Oh the sensitivies of the zionists knows no bounds. In the land of free speech, here we go again, the ADL (mostly tilted to Israel, of course, hardly others), makes a hue and cry about an opera. We see/hear hate speeches against the President very freely in the media, then we had an exhibition of a naked Jesus Christ as a woman, the Virgin Mary exhibit with elephant dung, Pamela Geller’s ugly bigoted posters plastered in many subways attacking Muslims and insulting their religion, but oy vey, the ADL is so outraged and about an opera at the Met.
    The Palestinians MUST be portrayed as vicious terrorists, so this opera must be halted. The Israelis must continue to be helpless victims of the occupied. That must be behind the outrage.

    Meanwhile, in Haaretz, an article asks if “Virgin Mary was a virgin”? Is this anti Christian? Time for other religions to show such delicate sensitivities in our land of free speech, and act equally outraged. Be just as ridiculous.
    I wonder how many opera fans will watch this opera and come away feeling very anti-semitic.

  2. jenin on June 18, 2014, 12:23 pm

    this is simply absurd. Is there anything that can be done, in terms of contacting someone there? this sort of censorship is absolutely deplorable.

  3. just on June 18, 2014, 12:26 pm

    we have got to be the laughingstock of the world. the met bows to foxman.

    Democracy? hahahahaha. How is it that only performances/art that Jewish people object to are censored/canceled?

    remember “The Skies are Weeping” and Philip Munger?

    • Walid on June 18, 2014, 12:52 pm

      You’re going to miss him, just.

      From the Forward, February 2014:

      Abe Foxman, ‘Jewish Pope,’ Retires From ADL — and Communal World Gasps
      Iconic Figure Leaves the Stage After 50 Years

      By Nathan Guttman

      Finding New ADL Chief: Hard. Replacing Foxman: Impossible
      Not many communal leaders are referred to as the “Jewish pope,” but then not many find themselves regularly on the front page of The New York Times, or have the vice president sing “Happy Birthday” to them in front of a huge conference hall.
      This, in part, explains why the news of Abraham Foxman’s retirement next year sent shockwaves through the Jewish community, which had grown used to seeing the 73-year-old national director of the Anti-Defamation League as a kind of permanent fixture of American life. Many see the task of replacing him as an impossible endeavor.

      Just how difficult will it be to find a new “Jewish pope”? A special [statement] ]( that President Obama issued when news of Foxman’s announcement broke gave some indication. “Abe is irreplaceable,” Obama said succinctly.

      … In a February 8 letter, Foxman informed ADL board members that he will be stepping down as the organization’s national director on July 20, 2015, exactly 50 years since he joined the group. That includes a tenure of 28 years at the ADL’s helm, a period in which he grew the organization dramatically to make it a powerhouse on all human rights issues, beyond its original mandate of fighting anti-Semitism. Moreover, Foxman himself during this time became America’s “go-to Jewish voice,” as described by many in the community.

      One indication that ADL has been planning for Foxman’s retirement could be seen in a decision taken at the end of 2012 by the group’s board to award the national director with a $1.5 million retirement compensation package, above and beyond his salary.

      … Foxman will be leaving an organization that, despite some difficulties during the financial downturn, has been raising $50 million a year. The ADL also has an endowment fund of nearly $90 million. Much of the ADL’s success has been credited to Foxman’s personal fundraising abilities. He bonded strongly with major donors, many of whom came from his own age group and background. Critics from within the organization have noted, however, the aging profile of ADL donors as a source of concern for the future.

      Foxman’s gripping life story was also part of his unique ability to attract supporters. Born in Nazi-occupied Poland, Foxman survived World War II and the Holocaust thanks to a Catholic nanny who brought him up as a Christian before he reunited with his parents and moved with them to America. This background put a vivid human face on the ADL’s fight against anti-Semitism and bigotry.

      • just on June 18, 2014, 1:05 pm

        Not I, dear Walid! Foxman’s ADL is the Arab Defamation League. I disagree vehemently with Mr. Obama’s full statement:

        “For decades, Abe Foxman has been a tireless voice against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all of its forms, always calling us to reject hatred and embrace our common humanity. Michelle and I wish him well as he prepares to leave the leadership of the Anti-Defamation League – an organization that he built, and led with such passion and persistence. Abe is irreplaceable, but the causes that he has dedicated his life to will continue to inspire people in the United States, Israel, and around the world.”

        (from the WH website)

      • eljay on June 18, 2014, 1:15 pm

        >> Just how difficult will it be to find a new “Jewish pope”? … “Abe is irreplaceable,” Obama said succinctly.

        No, he’s not. Any Zio-supremacist is capable of screaming “anti-Semitism!” and “Holocaust!” at the drop of a hat. Zio-supremacists here on MW do it quite regularly.

      • RoHa on June 18, 2014, 7:53 pm

        I could do that. How much does the job pay?

    • Philip Munger on June 18, 2014, 1:45 pm


      I have tried to follow the performance history of Death of Klinghoffer since its premiere in 1991. At the time, I was seriously considering writing an opera about Edward Teller’s role in Project Chariot, a late 1950s plan to use four hydrogen bombs to create a new harbor in northwestern Alaska. I wanted to model it somewhat after John Adams’s first opera, Nixon in China, so was interested in how Adams’s voice was developing in his second opera.

      All through its history, some individuals and Zionist organizations, and members of the Klinghoffer family have objected to one aspect of the opera or another. The first objection to which Adams responded was his depiction of some of the Klinghoffer’s friends, and his creation of fictional characters to portray them. They were perceived to be caricatures of some sort of Jewish stereotype. Adams deleted the scene. At least two scholarly papers have been written about how this deletion marred the opera’s form and balance.

      The most authoritative person to claim the opera is anti-Semitic and romanticizes terrorism is the curmudgeonly Richard Taruskin, now a professor of musicology at Cal Berkeley.

      As recently as last winter, the LA Opera pulled out of a co-production of the opera, leaving Long Beach Opera to produce it alone, which was a heavy financial burden for the company.

      The most often-performed extract from the opera is a set of choruses, depicting displaced Jews and displaced Palestinians, in turns. They are choral masterpieces. Before September 11th, 2001, the Boston Symphony and chorus has programmed the work to be performed that fall. They cancelled after numerous complaints that the choruses “romanticize terrorists.”

      The composer’s responses to criticisms and cancellations over the work’s 23-year history are studies in restraint. The opera is more like an oratorio or passion than what we generally consider to be an opera. More opera-like than most of those by fellow minimalist Philip Glass, Adams really does succeed in having a neutral point of view. Apparently that isn’t enough for some who are upset whenever Palestinians are treated even-handedly in comparison to Israelis or to Jews.

      On the other hand, my cantata, The Skies Are Weeping, which you refer to above, does not take a neutral point of view. When some local Zionist friends suggested I change it to give it a neutral point of view, I replied that to do so would not honor Rachel Corrie’s memory. My work, like Adams’s, has been criticized for “romanticizing terrorism,” by which the complainants are referring to Rachel Corrie. I find that characterization of her to be deeply offensive.

      I was looking forward to seeing this opera in the HD format. Adams’s Dr. Atomic was presented that way by the Met two seasons ago, in a vibrant production. This sucks.

      • ritzl on June 18, 2014, 2:04 pm

        Hi Phillip, I read in the Jeff Pezzati hate-mail quoted in the wiki that just linked to, that John Adams was part of a group that supported blacklisting you. Is that claim real or fiction?

        You’ve probably explained this a million times, but was Adams a part of any organized opposition to the performance of “The Skies are Weeping?”

      • Philip Munger on June 18, 2014, 2:25 pm

        Jeff Pezzati was a nom-de-blog of a white supremacist punk rocker in the LA area. He sent me the blacklisting letter as a hoax. I had my college’s police and Arts and Sciences Dean investigate the letter. Neither John Adams nor any other composer has complained about The Skies Are Weeping.

      • ritzl on June 18, 2014, 2:57 pm

        Good news. Thanks. You’re a very conscientious and courageous man, imho.

      • just on June 18, 2014, 2:23 pm

        ” My work, like Adams’s, has been criticized for “romanticizing terrorism,” by which the complainants are referring to Rachel Corrie. I find that characterization of her to be deeply offensive.”

        It is offensive and there was nothing neutral about her murder.

        You continue to be a man that I admire for your honor, your artistry, and your stance on issues.

        This does suck.

      • Boomer on June 18, 2014, 7:43 pm

        Thank you for this background information (mostly new to me) and for your thoughtful analysis.

      • Walid on June 19, 2014, 12:20 pm

        Boomer, you could also look into the actual story behind which this opera was based, the hijacking of the Italian ship the Achille Lauro on its stretch of its cruise between Alexandria and Ashdod by 4 Palestinian terrorists to have 50 Palestinian prisoners freed. They asked that the ship dock at Tartus, Syria but when the Syrians refused them that permission, they shot in cold blood, Leon Klinghoffer, a retired American-Jew that was wheelchair bound and had his body thrown overboard.

        The hijacking assassins eventually negotiated their way out of the mess at Port Said and were allowed to board a plane to be flown to Tunis but on the way, US Navy fighter jets forced the plane to land in Sicily and the 4 were captured, tried and jailed. Eventually, the PLO reached a financial settlement with the Klinghoffer family.

        There has been another version of the story going around that this was actually an Israeli black flag operation that used unsuspecting Palestinians to commit the heinous crime. Of course, it could be written off as another conspiracy theory, but since Israel is involved, everything is possible including this theory. Israel has a long track record of false flag operations so nobody really knows what was behind it.

        The “Israeli instigated operation” story was first related by Ari Ben-Menashe, a former special intelligence advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir -in his book, “Profits of War.”

        Details of what may or may not have been a conspiracy theory from Israel Shamir’s Newsletter, but interesting nonetheless:


      • SQ Debris on June 19, 2014, 1:29 pm

        Walid’s allusion to the idea that the entire Achille Lauro hijacking might have been “an Israeli black flag operation ” actually has some causal weight. Recall that Arafat was supposed to address the U.N. in October 1985, for the first time since 1974. The ship was hijacked a week before he was scheduled to appear. I always figured it for another one of collaborator Hafez al-Asad’s sabotage jobs for his client, Israel. And it worked. See

      • ritzl on June 19, 2014, 1:57 pm

        @Walid- “Eventually, the PLO reached a financial settlement with the Klinghoffer family.”

        I never knew that. With that as a guideline, is Israel in a deep financial hole or what? Well, more abyss than hole really.

        The families of thousands upon thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese casually killed by Israel over decades can make the same claim. ~$T?.

      • jd65 on June 18, 2014, 10:54 pm

        “some local Zionist friends suggested I change it to give it a neutral point of view…”

        You can’t be neutral on a moving train. You are right Philip to not “neutralize” yourself. Your Zionist friends’ suggestion of neutrality is the same technique as the “balance” canard in the media. Creating an image of balance out of an obviously unbalanced situation is simply inaccurate. Be neutral? That’s like standing with a bucket of water in your hand next to a man on fire and opting to wait for it to rain ‘cuz you don’t feel you should “interfere.”

        Prediction: This cancellation of Adams’s work is so outrageous that it will have repercussions many years into the future. Adams is a giant figure in American music, and in music history generally. This is a MAJOR event. The Met fucked up. But big…

  4. Walid on June 18, 2014, 12:35 pm

    The opera is from 1991 and only now the family has decided against it? Foxman must have whispered sweet nothings in their ears; holocaust, duty to Israel and all that.

    • Philip Munger on June 18, 2014, 2:03 pm

      Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, Leon’s daughters, have objected to the opera’s portrayal of their father from its first production through the present. The composer has addressed their concerns since they became known.

      • Walid on June 18, 2014, 2:29 pm

        Thanks, Philip.

  5. Justpassingby on June 18, 2014, 12:35 pm

    Then I guess Schindlers list is racist too against Germans?

    • bilal a on June 18, 2014, 2:51 pm

      we were raised on anti german racism

      the miscegenation humor seems a bit ugly now

      Blazing Saddles (7/10) Movie CLIP – Lili Goes Black (1974)

    • piotr on June 18, 2014, 3:46 pm

      Sometimes I am almost loosing my faith in humanity. You simply cannot be racist against Germans, or you cannot make objections on that basis, or if you do, nobody will give a damn. But one could object a sympathetic portrayal of Germans, like the Schindler himself, which undermines the Zionist narrative that Israel is necessary due to innate and eternal anti-Semitism among the nations, and thus the core of Jewish values, so Schindler List is objectively anti-Semitic.

  6. irmep on June 18, 2014, 12:46 pm

    The National Conference on Jewish Affairs (no IRS form 990) and Advocates for Israel, ($5,500 filing in 2006, none since) appear to be bogus astroturf pressure groups.

    It continues to amaze that after all the revelations of graft, spying, abuses and infiltration the ADL is still a going concern.

  7. Woody Tanaka on June 18, 2014, 1:00 pm

    Yes, because God forbid we have a sympathetic portrayal of the plight of the Palestinians. These people are racists and a menace to freedom of speech in America.

  8. talknic on June 18, 2014, 1:50 pm

    Cultural boycott. A heavy handed touch of hypocrisy

  9. Philip Munger on June 18, 2014, 1:54 pm

    I love this comment at the WQXR article Phil Weiss links to above:

    In response to concerns expressed by the Roma, Mr. Gelb has agreed to no longer produce Carmen, as it portrays Gypsies as thieving smugglers with loose morals. The Met will also cancel all productions of La Boheme and La Traviata, due to concerns expressed by the Tuberculosis Foundation and various anti-vaccination groups. And last I heard, both the Japanese-American Citizens League and the US Navy are in discussions with Mr. Gelb concerning depictions of Japanese people and US Navy officers in Madama Butterfly…

    • just on June 18, 2014, 2:15 pm

      That’s a keeper!

      • DaBakr on June 19, 2014, 12:54 am

        none of the aforementioned operas have an actual human being in their titles and refer to the murder of said human. I think that makes a big difference and had Klinghoffer not been referred to specifically-there would never have been a case.

      • eljay on June 19, 2014, 7:24 am

        >> … had Klinghoffer not been referred to specifically-there would never have been a case.

        Just about anything that fails to paint…
        – Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims as nothing more than Jew-hating terrorists ready to commit the next Holocaust; and/or
        – Israelis/Jews as anything other than good and moral people who are made to suffer for no reason other than who they are,
        …is cause for cries of “anti-Semitism”.

        So, yes, there would have been a case, and you know it.

    • RoHa on June 19, 2014, 1:56 am

      What about the anti-Babylonianism in Nabucco?

  10. Ismail on June 18, 2014, 1:55 pm

    So Abe Foxman thinks it’s fine to suppress the broadcast of this opera on the grounds that it may stimulate haters to commit terrible acts?

    He must have had a change of heart. Here he is gassing on about the Danish Mohammed cartoons:

    ” In a democratic society, newspapers need to be free to publish controversial content without fear of censorship or intimidation of their writers and editors.”

    See, controversial content must be protected, without regard to the possible mischief that it might cost.

    Except, of course, when it mustn’t.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on June 18, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Well spotted.

      But then, everyone supports ‘freedom of speech’ when they approve of what’s being said, don’t they? A bit like how Zionists like Foxman support liberalism, pluralism and minority rights in the US, but not in Israel.

    • lysias on June 18, 2014, 2:38 pm

      That was Gelb’s excuse, but I suspect his real reason was a threat to the Met’s finances, either a threatened refusal to donate or a threatened refusal to attend the opera or both.

      By the way, I have seen this opera on DVD, and it is an excellent opera, which treats both sides with respect.

    • DaveS on June 18, 2014, 3:07 pm

      That is an excellent point, Ismail

    • Kay24 on June 18, 2014, 4:58 pm

      That’s a great comment. Of course, it is selective when it comes to the zionists.
      P. Geller puts up Islamaphobic posters, and insults Islam, but whenever some puts up a poster criticizing ISRAEL, she gets a hissy fit (must be horrible sight).

  11. hophmi on June 18, 2014, 2:00 pm

    But you want to ban Israelis from speaking in American and reduce the ability of Jews who express Zionist opinions from expressing them publicly. So how can you criticize a vastly less comprehensive campaign, restricting the presentation of The Death of Klinghoffer to the Met instead of broadcasting it in Europe, where anti-Zionism is often given as an excuse for antisemitic activity.

    I’m sorry; I don’t see how it’s not committing “intellectual suicide” to ban Israelis from speaking but committing intellectual suicide to advocate cancelling the showing of a controversial opera in a place where Jews have faced an uptick in antisemitic persecution.

    • lysias on June 18, 2014, 3:15 pm

      Unless I am mistaken, the cancellation also applies to the simulcast within the U.S. It also sounds as if it applies to the radio Live at the Met broadcasts within the U.S.

      • Philip Munger on June 18, 2014, 5:52 pm

        I don’t believe it applies to the Met radio network, just to the in-theater HD performances, which are almost uniformly superb, and a great, inexpensive way to introduce kids and opera skeptics to the genre. John Adams is one of America’s most distinguished artists, a Pulitzer Prize winner with five Grammies and a number of honorary doctorates from prestigious universities such as Harvard sand Yale, etc. To do this to someone so highly esteemed means that some very explicit, perhaps nasty funding threats were made from past and current donors to the Met.

        I prefer the other John Adams, John Luther Adams, who just won the Pulitzer Prize for Become Ocean, recently performed in NYC by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. I call John Luther Adams “the real John Adams,” but I’m biased – he’s a longtime, dear friend.

    • piotr on June 18, 2014, 3:52 pm

      There is a gamut of Zionist opinion, but the modern standard (as exemplifed by GoI, 9/10 commentators there, 99/100 of comment writers there and our colonialist-wanna-be’s in USA) is frankly racist, so I have no problem with heckling such frank racists etc. Nobody is closing their newspapers or TV stations, arresting and at occasion, killing, the workers in their media, nor I would recommend doing so.

      If Zionists want to heckle Met, it is their prerogative, but nixing the performance (or the broadcast) of a work of widely recognized merit is something of a different order of magnitude.

  12. Maximus Decimus Meridius on June 18, 2014, 2:22 pm

    Like I said in another post, the narcissism of Zionists knows no bounds. The world revolves around them and their highly selective ‘sensitivities’.

  13. wondering jew on June 18, 2014, 2:37 pm

    When one prevents Judith Butler from speaking about Kafka that is a form of intellectual suicide. When one objects to an opera that depicts the murder of a man in a wheelchair and uses that episode to explore the Palestinian cause, that is not a form of intellectual suicide. You can call it censorship, an abuse of the specter of antisemitism, a type of intolerance, maybe (I have not seen or read the libretto) even an act of good taste being pushed by bullies in the name of the daughters of a murder victim who do not enjoy seeing their father’s murder in the context of the entire conflict, but it is NOT an act of intellectual suicide.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on June 18, 2014, 2:40 pm

      ”in the name of the daughters of a murder victim who do not enjoy seeing their father’s murder in the context of the entire conflict, ”

      The play was first performed 23 years ago. Why all the outrage now?

      And if Klinghoffer’s daughters object, they are free to do so. The ADL is not acting on their behalf.

    • just on June 18, 2014, 2:51 pm

      You can find out more about the librettist here:

      “What, 21 years on, does Goodman think of the Klinghoffer controversy? She smiles wryly. “All clergy have to have spiritual directors, the way a psychiatrist goes to see a psychiatrist.” I think of Tony Soprano’s shrink’s weekly visits to her own shrink. “I saw my director yesterday, and I mentioned this had caused a great amount of controversy and had been very tough and that I hadn’t done anything else since and he said, ‘Why was that?’ And I said, ‘Well, because the bad people in it are not entirely bad and the good people are not entirely good.'”

      This, she argues, was her mistake: to depict terrorists as human beings and their victims as flawed. In one particularly caustic attack in the New York Times in 2001, Richard Taruskin denounced the opera for “romanticising terrorists”. Taruskin noted that Adams had said the opera owed its structure to Bach’s Passions. But in Bach’s Passions, argued Taruskin, every time Jesus is heard, an aureole of violins and violas gives Christ the musical equivalent of a halo. Klinghoffer has no such halo, while the Palestinian choruses are accompanied by the most beautiful music in the opera.

      “What upset Taruskin was giving beautiful music to terrorists,” snaps Goodman. “They have to sing ugly music. There has to be the equivalent of a drumroll when [1960s cartoon villain] Snidely Whiplash comes in because – God help us – we can’t have complexity. People will love evil if we give terrorists beautiful music to sing and we can’t have that, can we? Sorry, I can hear my voice becoming high-pitched and irritable.

      We start talking about Auschwitz. “The guards at Auschwitz were able to do what they did because they had dehumanised the people who came through. It’s that whole process of dehumanising that I hate. To have made Klinghoffer into the Klinghoffer the critics wanted would have been to play into that enterprise of dehumanising – dehumanising your enemy, dehumanising your friends as well.”

      And yet you can understand why Klinghoffer’s daughters hated the depiction of their father. Goodman tells me they could have been involved in the project but she resisted. “They had already been consultants for two docudramas.” One starred Karl Malden, the other Burt Lancaster. “So it seemed to me they didn’t really need a third. Also, having been advisers to these docudramas, they couldn’t really say this is all a private family matter because it had become part of the public discourse.””

  14. DaveS on June 18, 2014, 3:05 pm

    I was planning to see this opera live (not that I’m a regular patron) but when I saw it would be simulcast I figured I might choose to save the couple hundred bucks. Now that the simulcast is canceled, my first thought was to see it live after all. I am a little ambivalent about rewarding the Met’s capitulation by buying tickets, since I also think people should buy tickets rather than boycott the opera. I’m just pissed at this awful decision, and hope it will somehow backfire on those who pressured the Met.

    • lysias on June 18, 2014, 3:17 pm

      I don’t know if they still have standing room at the Met, but, in the 1980’s, when I lived in Princeton and regularly attended live performances at the Met, standing room was a very economical way to see Met operas. (And there were often empty seats that you could sit in after the end of the first act.)

  15. James North on June 18, 2014, 3:18 pm

    Let’s not forget that the Palestine Liberation Front — the group that murdered Mr. Klinghoffer — was a tiny organization with highly suspicious origins that represented hardly any Palestinians.

  16. Elisabeth on June 18, 2014, 4:18 pm

    There it is again: “Rising anti-semitism especially in Europe.” Not in America of course, but somewhere far away, where your bullshit radar doesn’t reach.
    What part of Europe? France again? A lot of the anti Semitic incidents in France reported in the American press (Newsweek for instance) turned out to be bogus.

    • Dutch on June 18, 2014, 7:25 pm

      Yep. Red alert. We’re in the middle of a storm over here – except that we can’t find the storm. And neither can all these Israeli’s that settle down in cities like Berlin and Amsterdam. What the hell is Gelb talking about?

      Let one thing be clear. We have no problem with ‘Rising anti-Semitism’, but the US has a big problem with the Israel lobby. Gelb just showed how deep he bent over for it with his sickening ‘excuse’.

      • CloakAndDagger on June 19, 2014, 6:50 pm

        I am in Munich this week. Walking to terminal 2 at the airport there is an Israeli stall smack dab in the middle of the food court selling Dead Sea products. I must have scowled as I walked past it, as this young man walked up to me from the stall.
        ” Excuse me, where are you from?” – he asked me with a heavy mideastern accent.
        “I am from the US ” – I replied.
        “Oh really? Do you know about the Dead Sea? ”
        “Yes, it’s in Palestine “-I replied.
        “In Israel ” – he corrected me firmly.
        He then proceeded to coax me to try a sample of some cream, which I politely refused.
        I was about the launch into a tirade about products from occupied territories, but thought better of it being in a foreign country.

        As an aside, I find the people in Munich to be just lovely and I did not detect any anti-Semitism from the passerbys around this Israeli stall.

  17. amigo on June 18, 2014, 4:37 pm

    I do not recall foxman attempting to censor the FB page calling for the death of an Arab every hour which up to yesterday had 17,000 thumbs up.

    The man is a gross hypocrite and one has to wonder what he would be capable of if there were zero constraints on his efforts, in the pursuit of condemning any words that do not fawn over all things Jewish.

    He disgusts me and that which he stands for.He creates antisemitism.

    He should just shut up unless he is willing to be impartial in his endeavors.

  18. Dutch on June 18, 2014, 7:31 pm

    Completely off-topic. World champion Spain out of the World Cup after second loss (0-2, Chile).

  19. Boomer on June 18, 2014, 7:39 pm

    It seems that for Zionists, feeling empathy for Palestinians–seeing them as suffering humans–is itself suspect: dangerous for Israel at best, and likely antisemitic.

  20. traintosiberia on June 18, 2014, 7:51 pm

    The Book Exodus glorifies violences perpetrated on many fronts against Palestine. It ravaged the memory and disorients the moral compass. It should have been banned .
    The memoirs and the observances of the birthdays of Zionist historical figures should be banned for all of them were terrorist or terrorist sympathizes . The memorial that ate built in their name ,should be destroyed by the state and the counties.

    • RoHa on June 18, 2014, 9:32 pm

      This is true both of the Leon Uris novel and the OT book. Both should be banned.

    • lysias on June 19, 2014, 10:38 am

      Actually, the Book of Exodus does not recount any violence committed against the Canaanites, only violence by God against the Egyptians. In the book, God does promise the Land of Canaan to the Jews, but the book ends with them in Sinai, before they enter Canaan. They don’t enter and conquer Canaan (and commit violence against the Canaanites) until the Book of Joshua.

      • traintosiberia on June 19, 2014, 1:24 pm

        I meant Leon Uris.

      • RoHa on June 19, 2014, 8:15 pm

        Thanks, lysias. Memory played me false.

        But ban it anyway, for the anti-Egyptianism. Ban Joshua, too.

  21. traintosiberia on June 18, 2014, 7:56 pm

    To understand the behaviors of ADL and the future implications of the activities of ADL, one has to look into the different historical periods where and when similar false alarms were raised by individuals or organizations about antisemitism .
    It was always to create false and destructive narrative , be it against Poles, Russian, Germany or Arab to gain advantage and to influence the local politics.

  22. RoHa on June 18, 2014, 7:58 pm

    Opera is a terrible abuse of music, theatre, and the human voice. If it is not banned on those grounds (and it should be) then it certainly should not be banned because the ADL thinks it might arouse anti-Semitism somewhere in darkest Europe.

  23. Nevada Ned on June 18, 2014, 8:24 pm

    Why Abe Foxman should not be taken seriously

    Our story begins back in 2009, when Alison Weir, a journalist and critic of Israel, ran an article on the CounterPunch website about Israeli Organ Harvesting.
    Weir picked up on an article published the previous week in a Swedish newspaper.

    Weir declared that “Testimony and circumstantial evidence indicating that Israelis may have been harvesting internal organs from Palestinian prisoners without consent for many years”.

    On August 23, 2009, The New York Times cautiously addressed the story under the headline “Accusation of Organ Theft Stokes Ire in Israel”.

    Abe Foxman, quoted by the JTA, denounced the accusation, declaring (in a Sept 17 2009 interview) that “This is a new variation of the ancient blood libel.” Foxman didn’t bother to give his reasons for believing that the story was false.

    The Israeli story has been sloshing around for years. Five years earlier, the NY Times had run a story (May 23, 2004) under the headline

    THE ORGAN TRADE: A Global Black Market; Tracking the Sale of a Kidney on a path of poverty and hope. The NYT reporter tracked a kidney through four continents, from Brazil to Brooklyn.

    “In Alberty da Silva’s case, the authorities here say, the organ’s odyssey began with two middlemen based in this gritty port city of 1.5 million people: Gedalya Tauber, a former Israeli police officer, and his partner, Ivan Bonifacio da Silva, a retired Brazilian military police officer.” So in 2004, the Times was reporting Israeli involvement.
    Everybody agrees that people from many counties are involved in trafficking in body parts. It is not an Israeli monopoly. But Israelis are involved.
    Foxman did not denounce the NYT for repeating blood libel.

    Now bring the story forward to October 2011, when a Brooklynite, an immigrant from Israel named Rosenbaum pleaded guilty to organ trafficking.

    The next year, 2012, the NYT ran an article by reporter Dan Bilefsky,
    Black Market for Body Parts spreads among the poor in Europe. Bilefsky’s story says,

    In late May [2012], the Israeli police detained 10 members of an international crime ring suspected of organ trafficking in Europe, European Union law enforcement officials said. The officials said the suspects had targeted impoverished people in Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

    This is the only mention of Israel in the story.
    Recall that Abe Foxman declared back in 2009 that it’s all an anti-Semitic conspiracy, blood libel,etc.

    Now let’s bring the story forward to just last year, to June 20, 2013.
    Haaretz ran a story with a headline
    “Israeli MDs harvesting organs for international trafficking ring.

    What’s the take-home lesson here? Nobody should take Abe Foxman seriously. Nobody.

  24. Philip Munger on June 18, 2014, 10:21 pm

    The Chorus of Exiled Palestinians from The Death of Klinghoffer by John Adams. From Penny Woolcock’s film of the opera:

  25. Accentitude on June 19, 2014, 2:43 am

    You know what’s anti-semitic? Demonizing Palestinians, denying them their rights and funding and promoting a culture of violence against them because they’re Palestinians. Lest we forget that Palestinians are one of the original Semitic tribes and therefore are Semites but of course the ADL is only concerned about fighting anti-semitism against one of thos tribes, the Jews, all others be damned. I also think the ADL should change its name. because victims of “Defamation” are not exclusively Jewish. However, I don’t see ADL fighting against the defamation of anyone else. Do you?

    • Kay24 on June 19, 2014, 7:36 am

      From their website to their actions, it is ALL about Israel, and defending what the world now considers a brutal occupier, warmonger, with a ruthless military.
      Foxman, has served his nation (and it is not the US) well.

  26. MHughes976 on June 19, 2014, 11:42 am

    I think that there is quite good reason for thinking that the Philistines originally spoke an Indo-European language, though they may have come to use the Syrian-Canaanite language as time went on. The place name ending ‘-ina’ is so typically IE, the relationship of their ceramic styles to Mycenae’s so well agreed, the etymology from phyle/hestia (giving ‘Palestine’ the rather charming meaning of ‘Land of Hearth and Home’) so plausible (to my mind) that I would think that the Philistines must have formed part of the arc of IE-speakers extending from Hatti to Cyprus and some way south-east. So perhaps prejudice against Palestinians, ancient or modern, is not anti-Semitism but anti-Mycenism, which would sound much more civilised.

  27. Philip Munger on June 19, 2014, 12:30 pm

    Today’s NYT has an extended interview with John Adams about this. In it, he states that the radio transmission will also be cancelled, which wasn’t clear yesterday, as WQXR radio seemed to indicate the radio transmission would not be censored:

    Mr. Adams, one of America’s foremost composers, said that he did not understand why the cinema transmission and radio broadcast were still being canceled if Mr. Gelb and the Anti-Defamation League agreed that the work is not anti-Semitic, though some critics have said otherwise. And he said he had been concerned by what he called “the really completely unjust charges” about his opera, especially by people who have not heard it.

    “The really ironic and sad fact is that the content of this opera is more relevant in 2014 than it was even in 1991, when it was premiered,” Mr. Adams said. “I think the people that are inflamed and upset about its production are people who are intent about trying to control their message. By canceling it, the Met has yielded to that intimidation.”

    Mr. Adams, who praised Mr. Gelb’s support of his work and his “grit and determination” to stage “Klinghoffer,” said that he feared that without the global transmission, which is often followed by television broadcasts, many thousands of people would be deprived of the chance to see the work and make up their own minds about it.

    “I’m just afraid that most people will have a sort of Wikipedia opinion about this opera,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s the opera that’s been accused of anti-Semitism,’ and leave it at that. And that’s really very sad — it’s very hard when something’s been stained with an accusation like that, it’s almost impossible to wash it out.” [emphasis added]

    • just on June 19, 2014, 12:44 pm

      Mr. Adams is correct, of course.

      That kind of “staining” has been a weapon of choice for a long time, thanks to the efforts of the ADL and other Zio-centric entities.

      What a crying shame.

      • ritzl on June 19, 2014, 2:13 pm

        It only stains if you let it. Gelb and/or Adams are in a reasonable position to give the Joseph Welch “no sense of decency, sir” comeback, but they’re not going to.

        At some point someone will.

        (@ :50)

    • lysias on June 19, 2014, 12:44 pm

      What does cancelling the simulcast within the U.S. and the radio broadcast (also within the U.S.) have to do with Gelb’s excuse of stirring up anti-Semitism in Europe? Surely that could be made into an issue to force Gelb to back down?

      • karendevito on June 19, 2014, 7:12 pm

        It has already been performed in Europe and broadcast on British TV without any measurable repercussion. It is the weak excuse of a man afraid of losing funding.

  28. James Canning on June 19, 2014, 2:18 pm

    A number of Jewish terrorists murdered British soldiers in Palestine, and later the UK was obliged to receive them as leaders of Israel. Was this being “sympathetic” to terrorists?

    ADL is often full of cr*p.

  29. karendevito on June 19, 2014, 7:10 pm

    First, the opera is not antisemitic. It may be controversial to portray the two pillars of suffering that the conflict is built upon, but the music and the libretto tries to build a bridge toward reconciliation. In this work, the Captain of the ship is not only at the ship’s bridge, he IS the bridge–although he fails to prevent the violent act. The individual characters are portrayed with compassion and as people with souls.
    THe objections began to the original opera long before anyone had seen a production.
    Penny Woolcock directed a film version made in 2003 the DVD is a must see for anyone who thinks about this issue. Not an opera fan? No matter. It was filmed on an actual cruise ship in the Mediterranean–it is so gripping that one forgets that it is being sung.THe extras about the making of the film are equally fascinating— the director of the Met needs to take a look at this. Adams speaks about his rationale, the initial controversy, the sensitivity of the fact that it was based on an incident that was a tragedy for a real family.
    The notion that the broadcast would stir up antisemitism in Europe is ridiculous– it has been performed there and the film version broadcast on British television.
    We will look back on this controversy in years to come and regard it with a similar dismay that we regard protests of presenting The Laramie Project.

  30. Philip Munger on June 20, 2014, 12:39 am

    The content of the open letter I sent today to each of the Pulitzer Prize winners in musical composition since John Adams won in in 2003:

    Dear Pulitzer Prize in Music recipient,

    I am writing an open letter to each composer who has won the Pulitzer Prize in Music Composition since John Adams won it in 2003.

    I am asking you to support Mr. Adams.

    The Metropolitan Opera will present his 2nd opera, The Death of Klinghoffer this fall. On Tuesday, the opera’s general manager, Peter Gelb, announced that the Met will not broadcast the opera, as had been planned. He bowed to pressure from censors. This doesn’t normally happen these days.

    Mozart had to put up with censors in the 18th century. Verdi had to put up with censors in the 19th. Shostakovich had to deal with them throughout most of his career in the 20th, and Aaron Copland was blacklisted from the movies for ten years for not snitching on his colleagues.

    Mr. Adams stated Wednesday, responding to queries about this censorship and its impact on how people understand this work, “‘I’m just afraid that most people will have a sort of Wikipedia opinion about this opera,’ he said. ‘They’ll say, “Oh, that’s the opera that’s been accused of anti-Semitism,” and leave it at that. And that’s really very sad — it’s very hard when something’s been stained with an accusation like that, it’s almost impossible to wash it out.”

    Thank you for considering my request.

    Philip Munger

Leave a Reply