NYT Praises Anti-semitic opera 'The Death of Klinghoffer'

If everything goes as planned, the New York Metropolitan Opera will stage the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel opera “The Death of Klinghoffer,” starting Monday, Oct. 20. The opera, which has drawn an outpouring of massive protests, is based on an all-too-real episode -- the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by terrorists of the Palestine Liberation Front. The terrorists shot and killed Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound passenger, and threw him into the sea.

John Adams’s opera, however, turns the story upside down so that it becomes a vehicle for humanizing terrorist killers and vilifying Jews and Israelis.

For example, an Arab chorus blames the 1948 founding of modern Israel as the source of all regional mishaps. Israeli soldiers are portrayed as brutally driving Arabs from their homes, chanting “Israel laid all to waste” -- a gross slander that ignores repeated Israeli appeals to Arabs to remain in their homes with guarantees of full civil and political rights.

The opera also tags Jews with classic anti-Semitic stereotypes -- “When poor men are gathered they can find Jews getting fat, cheating exploiters, defilers of virgins.”  In sharp contrast, Palestinian terrorists are depicted as “men of ideals.”

Additionally, critics of the opera object to its misleading title -- The “death” of Klinghoffer. A way of disguising a horrific murder that also becomes a way of cleansing terrorists.

Notwithstanding the opera’s rancid anti-Semitism, the Times has become its No. 1 defender. On Sept. 19, it published an editorial calling on the Metropolitan Opera’s board of directors to stand firm against rising protests. The editorial omitted all anti-Semitic passages of the libretto, instead asking readers to trust the Times that the opera is “nuanced” and “gives voice to all sides.” The Times also cited artistic freedom as a rationale to keep the opera on the Met’s performance roster.

The Times followed with an Oct. 15 “news” article that described the opera as “critically acclaimed.” Acclaimed by whom?  By the Times, of course.

And again, the Times shied from publishing anti-Semitic excerpts of the libretto, trying to keep its readers in the dark about the real content of the opera.

The Met’s only concession has been a note by Klinghoffer’s daughters, Lisa and Ilsa,that takes strong issue with staging the opera -- “It rationalizes, romanticizes, and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”  Their note will be included in the program of “The Death of Klinghoffer.” Small consolation for Klinghoffer’s kin.

As for the late Leon Klinghoffer, he has been murdered twice -- once aboard the Achille Lauro and now by the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers