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October 7, 2015 0

ADL Marks the 30th Anniversary of the Murder of Leon Klinghoffer

The Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacked by terrorists

The Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacked by terrorists

Tomor­row – Octo­ber 8, 2015 – marks the thir­ti­eth anniver­sary of the death of Leon Klinghoffer.

Leon Kling­hof­fer was mur­dered on Octo­ber 8, 1985 when ter­ror­ists asso­ci­ated with the Pales­tin­ian Lib­er­a­tion Front hijacked the cruise ship the Achille Lauro on which he was trav­el­ing in cel­e­bra­tion of his 36th wed­ding anniver­sary. Kling­hof­fer, who was wheel­chair bound, was shot in the head by ter­ror­ists, who then threw him overboard.

The ter­ror­ists who hijacked the Achille Lauro sin­gled out the Jew­ish pas­sen­gers on the ship. Thirty years later, ter­ror­ism remains inex­tri­ca­bly bound with anti-Semitism. ADL recently released a new report on the link between ter­ror­ism and anti-Semitism titled Anti-Semitism: A Pil­lar of Islamic Extrem­ist Ide­ol­ogy.

The mur­der of Leon Kling­hof­fer brought the deadly real­ity of ter­ror­ism home to Jews and Amer­i­cans. It was not only a tragedy, but also a wake-up call.

The attack was per­son­ally dev­as­tat­ing to the fam­ily of Leon Kling­hof­fer but, to their last­ing credit, his daugh­ters Lisa and Ilsa were deter­mined to ensure that their father did not die in vain. Within months of the attack, they joined with the ADL to found the Leon and Mar­i­lyn Kling­hof­fer Memo­r­ial Foun­da­tion of the Anti-Defamation League, which serves to edu­cate about ter­ror­ism and its vic­tims to this day.

ADL will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in a panel com­mem­o­rat­ing the anniver­sary of the Achille Lauro tragedy on Octo­ber 8 at 8:30 AM. The panel, Com­bat­ing Ter­ror­ism through Amer­i­can Law: On the Occa­sion of the 30th Anniver­sary of the Mur­der of Leon Kling­hof­fer, is pre­sented by the Cen­ter for Jew­ish His­tory and the Amer­i­can Jew­ish His­tor­i­cal Society.

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June 25, 2014 0

Reactions to the Met’s Cancelation of ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Simulcast

Fol­low­ing the announce­ment by Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera Direc­tor Peter Gelb that the Met was can­cel­ing it simul­cast of the con­tro­ver­sial “Death of Kling­hof­fer” per­for­mance, due to con­cerns that the screen­ing could inflame the already ris­ing tide of global anti-Semitism or legit­imize ter­ror­ism, there have been strong reac­tions from all sides of the spectrum.

Many in the artis­tic com­mu­nity have long argued that the opera is purely a work of art and not a polit­i­cal state­ment, and num­ber of media out­lets and indi­vid­u­als have described the Met’s deci­sion as a capit­u­la­tion to pres­sure from out­side groups and indi­vid­u­als. They argue that the opera is not intended to glo­rify or even jus­tify the mur­der of Leon Kling­hof­fer, but rather offers an artis­tic per­spec­tive on the his­tory of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict and the tragic events of the Achille Lauro.

Metropolitan_Opera_HouseFrom the NY Times edi­to­r­ial page:

“Art can be provoca­tive and con­tro­ver­sial. Many crit­ics of this opera have not actu­ally seen it, though they are cer­tainly free to express their con­cern or even out­rage. Their polit­i­cal and per­sonal views, how­ever, should not cause the Met to reverse its artis­tic judgment.”

Oppos­ing voices have argued that sim­ply can­cel­ing the simul­cast is insuf­fi­cient, and the Met should drop alto­gether the entire Fall per­for­mance of the “Death of Kling­hof­fer.” A num­ber of these indi­vid­u­als and groups claim that cer­tain scenes por­tray­ing the ter­ror­ists’ point of view are, at best, highly insen­si­tive to the Kling­hof­fer fam­ily, or, at worse, anti-Semitic. They argue that just as the Met would never per­form an opera show­cas­ing the “human­ity” of the 9/11 ter­ror­ists, they should not host one which attempts to human­ize terrorists.

From the NY Post:

“[Peter Gelb, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera’s gen­eral man­ager] said, ‘John Adams has said that in com­pos­ing ‘The Death of Kling­hof­fer’ he tried to under­stand the hijack­ers and their moti­va­tions, and to look for human­ity in the ter­ror­ists . . .’ What human­ity can — or should — be found in the mur­der­ers of inno­cents? When do we get an opera paint­ing the 9/11 bombers as “men of ideals?”

In response to the wide­spread crit­i­cism of the Met’s deci­sion, Lisa and Ilsa Kling­hof­fer, daugh­ters of Leon Kling­hof­fer, wrote a let­ter to the New York Times defend­ing the Met. They argue that, while they strongly believe the opera triv­i­al­izes their father’s death and ratio­nal­izes ter­ror­ism, the Met did not capit­u­late to their request by can­cel­ing the simul­cast, nor do they sup­port the notion of cen­sor­ing an artis­tic event.

From their let­ter:

“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.”

Their let­ter con­cludes with a strong mes­sage about the dan­gers posed by ter­ror­ists to inno­cent civil­ians, and an impor­tant reminder to opera goers and oth­ers that “any effort to politi­cize that mes­sage is a dis­tor­tion of our father’s hor­rific death.”

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