Thousands expected to protest 'Death of Klinghoffer'
In a bit more than an hour, thousands of people are expected outside New York's Lincoln Center to protest the premiere of 'Death of Klinghoffer
' by the Metropolitan Opera.
The Lincoln Square Business Improvement District sent an email last
Friday, alerting area businesses and residents about the protests:
have been informed by the New York City Police Department that there
will be a protest on Monday, October 20, 2014, between the hours of
4:00pm and 8:00pm in and around Dante Park (across from Lincoln Center
between 63rd and 64th Street), in connection with The Metropolitan
Opera's Opening Night Performance of The Death of Klinghoffer. It is our
understanding that the NYPD expects 3,000-4,000 people to attend, with
protesters gathering at approximately 2:00pm. The parking lane alongside
Dante Park on Columbus Avenue between 63rd and 64th Street will be
cordoned off with police barricades, which may be moved further west to
close traffic lanes if necessary. It is also our understanding that
there will be a platform set up in the parking lane near West 63rd
The majority of the demonstrators will be in Dante Park; however, there
will be approximately 40-50 additional demonstrators in front of Lincoln
Center's Josie Robertson Plaza. Expect to see "No Parking" signs
around the perimeter of Dante Park on Monday, October 20 and, depending
on the turnout, there may be temporary lane/crosswalk closures in and
around the Dante Park area. The NYPD will maintain a presence
throughout the event. We will also have our public safety officers
On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement by Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer
, the daughters of Leon Klinghoffer HY"D (May God Avenge his blood). The statement also appears in the Metropolitan Opera's Playbill program that is being distributed at the Opera, a measure of how much impact the protests have had.
Twenty nine years
ago, our 69 year old, wheel chair-bound father, Leon Klinghoffer, was
shot in the head by Palestinian hijackers on the Achille Lauro cruise
ship. The terrorists threw his body, along with his wheelchair,
overboard into the Mediterranean. A few days later, his body washed up
on the Syrian shore.
Tonight, as you watch The Death of Klinghoffer, a baritone will play the role of Leon Klinghoffer, and sing The Aria of the Falling Body
as he artfully falls into the sea. Competing choruses will highlight
Jewish and Palestinian narratives of suffering and oppression,
selectively presenting the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The terrorists, portrayed by four distinguished opera singers, will be
given a back story, an "explanation" for their brutal act of terror and
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. It presents false moral equivalencies without
context, and offers no real insight into the historical reality and the
senseless murder of an American Jew. It rationalizes, romanticizes and
legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father. Our family was not
consulted by the composer and librettist and had no role in the
development of the opera.
Our father was one
of the first American victims of Middle Eastern terrorism. Nearly three
decades later, after PanAm 103, 9/11, and countless other attacks and
threats, Americans live under the deadly threat of terrorism each and
For our family,
the impact of terrorism is obviously deeply personal. We lost our father
because of the violent political agenda of these terrorists. The trauma
of his murder never goes away. Our father was caring, creative,
thoughtful and smart. As a young man, he invented the rotisserie oven,
the first of its kind. After his stroke, our father continued to use his
one good arm to repair anything that needed fixing. With the help of
our mother, he never allowed his disability to limit his enjoyment of
good times with his family and friends, who meant everything to him. He
loved life and lived it to the fullest. He was an inspiration to us. It
is particularly sad that the life of such a vibrant and gentle man could
end suddenly in such a hate-filled and violent manner.
Our father is also
a universal symbol of the threat terrorism poses to our societies, our
values and our lives. Indeed, we have dedicated our lives since this
tragedy to educating about terrorism, and putting a personal face on the
victims and their families.
be rationalized. It cannot be understood. It can never be tolerated as a
vehicle for political expression or grievance. Unfortunately, The Death of Klinghoffer does all this, and sullies the memory of a fine, principled, sweet man in the process.
In June, following
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, the Met announced that
it would cancel a global simulcast of the controversial John Adams opera
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. At that time, Mr.
Foxman said: "Obviously from our point of view and from that of the
Klinghoffer sisters, we would have hoped that the Metropolitan Opera
would have stayed away from mounting such a problematic opera," Mr.
Foxman said. "We certainly did not want to see the Met production
simulcast into theaters around the world. The Met was very open to
hearing our concerns. After listening to our views, they have agreed to
cancel the simulcasts and to take steps to ensure that the Klinghoffer
family’s perspective is clearly heard by opera patrons."
In 1986, the Klinghoffer family established the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation of the Anti-Defamation League, which is dedicated to which is dedicated to developing educational, legislative and legal responses to terrorism.
Even Metropolitan Opera director Peter Gelb understands that the public is furious
over the eight performances that are to begin tonight in Lincoln Center.
In anticipation of the rally, there will be a
“heavy police presence” at Monday night’s opening, the New York Post
reported, citing police sources.
“It’s been a steady diet of e-mails, phone
calls and letters for a couple of months now,” Met director Peter Gelb
told the Sunday Times. “The people who don’t want this opera to be
performed are not silly; they are very angry.”
The Jewish organizations will host a press
conference at 5 p.m. ahead of the protest. Rabbi Avi Weiss and other
rabbinical leaders are set to host a vigil outside Lincoln Center in
memory of Klinghoffer ahead of the protest.
The rally is organized by some 50 Jewish and
Catholic groups, including the Zionist Organization of America, One
Israel Fund, One Family Fund, Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Catholic
League. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani reportedly will be the
keynote speaker at the event.
Labels: Achille Lauro, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish anti-Semitism, Leon Klinghoffer, Metropolitan Opera, New York City