The Klinghoffer Tragedy

This letter originally appeared in The New York Times on June 21, 2014

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times

To the Editor:

It pained us deeply to read “The Klinghoffer Tragedy” (editorial, June 20), criticizing the Metropolitan Opera’s decision not to simulcast John Adams’s opera “The Death of Klinghoffer,” and defending the opera against its critics by claiming that it “gives voice to all sides in this terrible murder.”

The Met should be praised, not faulted, for taking a step that will prevent this biased and flawed opera from appearing in 66 countries, including in some regions where anti-Semitism is disturbingly on the rise.

The Met did not “bow” to our wishes in canceling the global simulcast scheduled for this fall, but rather listened to our concerns and acted appropriately. We are strongly opposed to censorship and resent the implication that we would want to censor an artistic event.

Our 69-year-old father was singled out and killed by Palestinian terrorists on his wedding anniversary cruise in 1985 solely because he was Jewish. His memory is trivialized in an opera that rationalizes terrorism and tries to find moral equivalence between the murderers and the murdered.

Imagine if Mr. Adams had written an opera about the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, and sought to balance their worldview with that of those who perished in the twin towers. The outcry would be immediate and overwhelming.

But “Klinghoffer” is justified as a “work of art” and an opportunity to “debate” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is an outrage. These terrorists hijacked an Italian ship with American tourists and murdered an American Jew. What, precisely, did this have to do with Israel? Absolutely nothing.

Our father’s death should serve as a reminder of the lethality of terrorists who kill civilians, including women, children and the elderly, without compunction, and of the imperative to stop others from striking again. Any effort to politicize that message is a distortion of our father’s horrific death. People of all faiths should be concerned and appalled. There is never a justification for terrorism.

Lisa Klinghoffer
Ilsa Klinghoffer

The writers are co-founders of the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation of the Anti-Defamation League.

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