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

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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”.

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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… Read more »

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

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?

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.

Then I guess Schindlers list is racist too against Germans?