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Critics: Opera at Met Like Putting on a Production of an Islamic State Beheading

Rabbi: 'Stop believing that hatred is immoral'

Protesters attend the arrivals at Metropolitan Opera 2014-15 Season Opening on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in New York. The crowd was protesting the Met's decision to premiere a controversial opera "Death of Klinghoffer," about the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and the murder of Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer. / AP
• October 16, 2014 2:51 pm

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"The Death of Klinghoffer," an opera set to premiere October 20 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, has been consistently accused of anti-Semitic ideology.

Opposition to the work has increased, and the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy held a "Teach-in" on Tuesday at the Met's next-door neighbor, the Walter Reade Theater.

The Times of Israel reported that the institute turned to academics, activists, and experts on the medium to protest the Met's presentation.

John Adams penned the piece in 1991, drawing his story from the 1985 Palestinian Liberation Front’s seizure of the cruise liner "Achille Lauro" and murder of wheelchair-bound Jewish-American Leon Klinghoffer. Since its original publication, the opera has met innumerable accusations of painting its terrorist characters with sympathy and its Jewish figures with contempt.

Dahn Hiuni, playwright, broke down the structure of the opera, breaking down Klinghoffer as a character.

Furthermore, Hiuni took issue with the opera’s introduction, which is handed (as a "deliberate choice") almost exclusively to the terrorist characters. He asked, "Why wouldn’t [the play] start with Klinghoffer’s voice?"

Hiuni went on to highlight the sensitive timing of the opera, coming to life within six years of the terrorist attack. Positing that the event did not receive the reverence American culture affords to travesties of its kind, Hiuni asked, "When would it be okay to do the 9/11 opera? When would it be okay to do the James Foley beheading opera?"

The production of "Klinghoffer" drew comparisons to other terrorist attacks and concerns about the lack of gravity given to the public view on Jewish defamation.

Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, who attended the teach-in, gave his own take on how to handle anti-Semitism.

"Stop believing that hatred is immoral," he said, pointing to the "truly wicked" deeds of those driving the war against the Jewish population.

"If that’s not evil," Boteach said of the crimes committed by the slaughterers of Leon Klinghoffer, and all those engaged in terrorist activity worldwide, "then the word has no meaning."

 

Published under: Anti-Semitism, Terrorism