Protesters, including a former mayor and governor, gathered outside of the Metropolitan Opera on Monday afternoon to protest the opening of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”
The contemporary opera, which is written by John Adams and was first performed in 1991, is viewed as anti-Semitic by the protesters, many of whom believe the performance depicts terrorism, not art. The opera is about the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists, and the killing of Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer.
Among the hundreds of demonstrators, many sat in wheelchairs as a form of protest. Klinghoffer was 69 and wheelchair-bound when he was shot and thrown overboard.
“We’re here because we feel this play desecrates the memory of Leon Klinghoffer. We’re troubled by the play,” said Rabbi Ari Hart, 32, from the Bronx.
In June, the Met announced they would cancel a live broadcast of the opera, scheduled for November. At the time, General Manager Peter Gelb said he was “convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic,” but that he was concerned the broadcast would be “inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.”
On Monday afternoon, protestors chanted “Shame on the Met!” and brandished signs that read “MET OPERA GLORIFIES TERRORISM.”
“It’s a form of hate that’s being represented,” said 28-year-old Ana Izquierdo, “I don’t necessarily think that it’s art, when it’s against a community or people or a person.”
There are eight scheduled performance of the show until November 15, and the Met said “The Death of Klinghoffer” has been “presented without incident” at the Juilliard School, in St. Louis and California.