"There aren't many things left worth fighting for in this world. Art is one of them." - FoM
In his 2008 memoir, Hallelujah Junction, John Adams devotes an entire chapter to his opera The Death of Klinghoffer, which he completed in 1991 just six years following the event on which it's based: the hijacking of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro and the murder of retired American businessman Leon Klinghoffer. Adams writes:
"I knew that this subject would inevitably be a hot potato and likely draw us into any number of heated controversies with all sides of the Middle East conflict. But I found myself instantly drawn to the story, principally because the murder of this man, Leon Klinghoffer, possessed a strange, almost biblical feeling. On the one hand...it had the nervous, highly charged immediacy of a fast-moving media event. On the other, the man's murder, played out against a background of impassioned claims of Jews and Palestinians alike, touched a nerve that went deep into the body politic of our lives as comfortable, self-satisfied Americans."
Adams makes no attempt to mask his view that the Palestinian cause has been under and/or misrepresented in this country, where any debate over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians over the past 60 years is often "short-circuited by charges of anti-Semitism." At the same time, Adams embraces the "unique moral status" granted to Jews by virtue of their millenia-long suffering and courage, particularly in the last century.
Point being: while Adams insists that he and librettist Alice Goodman made no deliberate attempt to be evenhanded in their approach, both sides get their due in this opera. Which has in itself proven sufficient to spark repeated outrage in the American-Jewish community at staged and concert performances of Klinghoffer over the past 23 years. In a special note inserted into the Met program, Leon Klinghoffer's daughters Lisa and Ilsa write:
"The Death of Klinghoffer presents false moral equivalencies without context and offers no real insight into the historical reality and the senseless murder of an American Jew...Terrorism cannot be rationalized. It cannot be understood. It can never be tolerated as a vehicle for political expression or grievance. Unfortunately, The Death of Klinghoffer does all this..."