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October 7, 2015 Off

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 Off

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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