Demonstrators protest Klinghoffer opera at Met season opening

Protesters say production, depicting 1985 murder by Palestinian terrorists of wheelchair-bound 69-year-old Jewish-American man, promotes terrorism and anti-Semitism

Leon Klinghoffer, 1916-1985 (screen capture: Youtube)
Leon Klinghoffer, 1916-1985 (screen capture: Youtube)

Protesters calling for the Metropolitan Opera to cancel its production of “The Death of Klinghoffer” rallied outside the Met on its opening night Monday.

A coalition of groups in a statement called for the Monday afternoon protest at Lincoln Center, across from the Lincoln Center Plaza in Manhattan. Organizers say thousands are expected for the demonstration against a production that they contend promotes terrorism and anti-Semitism.

The opera depicting the 1985 murder by Palestinian terrorists of Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old Jewish-American man in a wheelchair, is set to premiere in October.

“This sends a message to terrorists that you can do this kind of thing and you’re going to be presented in a glorified, sympathetic way,” Rabbi Avi Weiss said in an address to demonstrators, according to CBS. (** See editor’s note at the end of this article.)

“I mean, it’s absolutely insane to do this,” New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) said, adding that he will try to cut funding to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which houses the Metropolitan Opera House.

Several high-profile participants were expected to join the protest, including former New York Gov. George Pataki and ex-US Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

The sponsoring organizations included the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Zionist Organization of America, Americans for a Safe Israel, AMCHA, the Catholic League, the Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign, several New York congregations, One Israel Fund, StandWithUs, Strength to Strength and others.

A letter written by Judea Pearl, the father of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by militants in Pakistan in 2002, will also be read.

It reads, in part: “Choreographing an operatic drama around criminal pathology is not an artistic prerogative, but a blatant betrayal of public trust. We do not stage operas for rapists and child molesters, and we do not compose symphonies for penetrating the minds of ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as the Islamic State] executioners.”

(** Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article included a quotation incorrectly attributed to Rabbi Weiss. We apologize for the error.)

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