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The Met Opera’s new musical celebration ‘promoting bigotry’
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By Andrea Peyser
September 15, 2014

The Met Opera’s new musical celebration ‘promoting bigotry’

This is not just offensive. It’s dangerous.

The month after we observed the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the Metropolitan Opera, one of the world’s most prestigious cultural institutions, will bow to forces of anti-Semitism and pro-terrorist sentiment. The Met is to present an obscene opera titled “The Death of Klinghoffer” — a musical celebration of the senseless murder by Palestinian monsters of a defenseless, elderly Jewish New Yorker.

People of good conscience are not taking this artistic assault lying down.

“Are we in hell?” veteran actor Tony Lo Bianco asked me.

“I don’t know who we are anymore,” he said. “Our values have been destroyed. We’ve gone politically correct, and we’ve destroyed ourselves.”

Since it was first produced at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1991, “The Death of Klinghoffer” has outraged some audiences. But it also has inspired hatred among people of all religions with its romantic portrayal of an act of violence committed by creatures who don’t deserve to breathe air.

The opera, by American composer John Adams with a libretto by his countrywoman Alice Goodman, dramatizes the murder — not merely the “death,” as the title implies — of Leon Klinghoffer.

The retired 69-year old businessman, confined to a wheelchair after a stroke, was slain off the coast of Egypt as he took a cruise on the ship Achille Lauro with his wife, Marilyn, to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary in October 1985. Members of the Palestine Liberation Front hijacked the ship. Before they surrendered, a butcher shot Klinghoffer in the back.

While he still breathed, the savages dumped him, along with his wheelchair, into the Mediterranean Sea. Marilyn Klinghoffer, 58, died four months later of cancer in New York.

Here are a few lyrics:

“Whenever there is misery, you’ll find Jews getting fat,” sings a terrorist called Rambo.

“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

“America is one big Jew.”

Another idiot spouts: “We are soldiers fighting a war. We are not criminals and we are not vandals, but men of ideals.” Right.

Lo Bianco, who appeared in the 1971 film “The French Connection” and is about to reprise his one-man stage role in “Little Flower,” about the legendary New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, plans to speak at an anti-opera rally on Sept. 22.

“I’m a tremendous supporter of Israel,” said Lo Bianco, who has not seen the opera.

The rally, in front of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, is expected to draw more than 2,000 people, including some 500 high-school students from Westchester County and Long Island, plus representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human-rights organization. It coincides with the season’s opening-night gala for opera donors.

In June, Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager — who has been plagued lately by dwindling audiences and the need to cut union wages — canceled a simulcast of “Klinghoffer” that was set to beam a live performance into more than 2,000 movie theaters in 67 countries worldwide on Nov. 15. He tossed the show after striking a deal with Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who represented the Klinghoffers’ daughters, Lisa and Ilsa.

“‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to romanticize, rationalize, legitimize and explain it,” the Klinghoffer sisters said in a statement released by the ADL.

A message from the two women is to be posted on the Met’s Web site and in printed programs for the opera, which is set to run for eight performances beginning on Oct. 20.

Foxman told me he doesn’t consider the opera anti-Semitic — because, in its current form, the anti-Jewish sentiment is expressed by a terrorist. But he didn’t want it to play in Europe, where attacks on Jews are growing in number.

Is he rationalizing filth?

“Why would anyone want to do an opera about a hideous, hateful murder?” asked Foxman, who saw an earlier version he does consider anti-Jewish on videotape. “It’s not anti-Semitism, per se. It shows this murderer as an anti-Semite. I was more concerned that this opera will be shown all over the world, from Vienna to Madrid and, I don’t know, Algiers — was it playing in Algiers?”

Gelb, the Met’s general manager, did not return my call seeking comment.

This opera, staged in the heart of New York City, serves no purpose except to promote bigotry. Cancel it! There is still time.

Running circles around justice.

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