ISGAP Program on Antisemitic Opera

JBS exclusive of an ISGAP discussion of "The Normalization of Antisemitism" reflected in the Metropolitan Opera's "The Death of Klinghoffer" (Oct 20, 2014). With Charles Small (ISGAP), Phyllis Chesler (feminist leader and author), Jeffrey Wiesenfeld (Jewish activist), and a panel discussion with Ben Cohen (Commentary Magazine), Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary Magazine), Omri Ceren (Commentary Magazine), Dahn Hiuni (artist and activist), Simon Deng (Sudanese human rights activist), Betty Ehrenberg (World Jewish Congress). Including interviews with Mark S. Golub. From the Walter Reade Theater in New York City.


PBS Youtube of Antisemitic Opera: Klinghoffer

An opera at the Met in New York has stirred very strong feelings beyond the arts community. "The Death of Klinghoffer" is based on a real and recent tragedy: the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship and the murder of a disabled Jewish-American passenger in 1985. Jeffrey Brown examines the criticism that the production glorifies terrorism.


The Death of Klinghoffer - An Inappropriate Opera


Dear Friends, 

In recent weeks we have witnessed a surge in anti-Semitism around the world in response to Israel's efforts to defend itself against an aggressor who is sworn to its destruction.  This anti-Semitism, hiding behind a facade of anti-Zionism, is unparalleled since Nazi Germany. 

Most of the more egregious incidents have occurred abroad, but there is one particularly blatant example of anti-Semitism here in the U.S. that should not be ignored. 

The Metropolitan Opera, despite vigorous opposition from many parts of  the Jewish Community, is forging ahead with its plans to present the opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer," during its Fall 2014 season.  After a campaign of letter writing, demonstrations, and articles in the Jewish press, the Met has refused to remove the opera from its schedule, offering only to "compromise" by cancelling its worldwide HD simulcast programs, but not the production at the Metropolitan Opera House itself. 

This opera presents the takeover of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985  by Palestinian terrorists, and their murder of 69 year old, wheel-chair bound Leon Klinghoffer, as justified, not only by Palestinian grievances against Israel, but also by the alleged evil and exploitative actions of Jews against others around the world.  The terrorists are humanized and presented as freedom fighters, who have been forced by Jewish and Zionist oppression to take extreme actions. 

In the opera's libretto, there are passages that defame the Jews as a people. For example, the principal terrorist says,“Wherever poor men are gathered, they can find Jews getting fat. You know how to cheat the simple, exploit the virgin, pollute where you have exploited, defame those you cheated, and break your own law with idolatry.” 

At one stage, the terrorist leader says to Klinghoffer, “America is one big Jew.” 

The opening scene honors terrorists. It is set against a backdrop of graffiti on a wall proclaiming “Warsaw 1943, Bethlehem 2005,” implying a moral equivalence between the acts of the Nazis and current day Jews. 

The Palestinians sing, “We are soldiers fighting a war. We are not criminals and we are not vandals but men of ideals.”

An excellent, short video titled "The Death of Klinghoffer - An Inappropriate 'Opera'" has been produced by the organization Stand With Us. It illustrates the moral depravity of this opera.

Many in the artistic world and in the mainstream press (e.g. the NYTimes and The New Yorker) have failed to see this opera as anti-Semitic.  They have defended it as "dialogue" on a difficult subject or on the basis of artistic freedom.  

Many people ask "What can I do as one individual" to stem the growing tide of anti-Semitic sentiment around the world? 

One simple and concrete step that you can take is to call or email Peter Gelb, director of the Metropolitan Opera.  Tell him in your own words that you oppose the Met's production of this anti-Semitic opera, and urge him to cancel its appearance at this venerable institution. You won't be alone. In addition to thousands of individuals protesting this production, prestigious institutions are already abandoning the Met's anti-Semitic Klinghoffer production. The Guggenheim Museum, which had scheduled as part of its "works and progress" series an event that would have included Metropolitan Opera performers performing excerpts from the “Klinghoffer” opera, has just announced a cancellation of its production. 

We urge you to let your voice be heard now. Time is of the essence if we are to stop the production from going forward this season.               

Phone Peter Gelb at: 212-799-3100, extension 2891
Email Peter Gelb at:

Please share this email with your friends and associates who are concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism.