"Death of Klinghoffer" Is Immoral, but Not an Endorsement of Terrorism https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/uncategorized/2014/10/death-of-klinghoffer-is-immoral-but-not-an-endorsement-of-terrorism/

October 22, 2014 | Walter Russell Mead
About the author: Walter Russell Mead is a distinguished fellow at Hudson Institute, professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College, and editor-at-large of the American Interest. His books include Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (2004), God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World (2007), and The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People (forthcoming 2017).

There is nothing inherently wrong with making an opera about a terrorist attack, argues Walter Russell Mead in his review of the Met’s production of The Death of Klinghoffer. The opera does not defend the terrorists who murdered Leon Klinghoffer, even if its attempts at moral sophistication fall flat. Nor is the problem the music, although it frequently calls to mind words “like boring, cliché, and predictable,” or the libretto, “a self-conscious and not particularly successful effort to achieve a high poetic tone [that] often comes across as awkward and long.” The opera’s real failing lies elsewhere, writes Mead:

If I were [Met Director] Peter Gelb, I would have declined to put the opera on, but not on political grounds. I would not have wanted to associate myself with what amounts to psychological rape, and I would not have staged it against the wishes of the murdered man’s family. Dehumanizing Leon Klinghoffer, turning him from a human being into a symbol in their political theater, is what the terrorists did on the Achille Lauro; John Adams and Alice Goodman echo this violation by trampling on the family’s privacy and wishes, stripping the Klinghoffers of their rights and dignity and using them as props.

Read more on American Interest: http://www.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2014/10/21/klinghoffer-a-night-at-the-opera/

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now