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October 19, 2014 1:14 pm

Klinghoffer Daughters in Playbill Ad: Play Romanticizes and Legitimizes Terrorist Murder of Our Father

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The Death of Klinghoffer. Photo:

The daughters of terror victim Leon Klinghoffer condemned the Metropolitan Opera’s upcoming performance about the slaying of their father in a statement that will be featured in the Opera’s playbill, Jewish human rights group The Anti-Defamation League said on Sunday in advance of the opera’s opening night on Monday.

“We are strong supporters of the arts, and believe that theater and music can play a critical role in examining and understanding significant world events. The Death of Klinghoffer does no such thing,” Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer said in the statement about the play. “It presents false moral equivalencies without context, and offers no real insight into the historical reality and the senseless murder of an American Jew. It rationalizes, romanticizes and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”

Wheel chair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, 69, was shot in the head and killed by Palestinian hijackers on the Achille Lauro cruise ship 29 years ago. The terrorists threw his body, along with his wheelchair, overboard into the Mediterranean Sea and his corpse washed up on the Syrian shoreline a few days later.

In their statement, the daughters said that audiences watching the opera will see competing choruses highlighting Jewish and Palestinian narratives of suffering and oppression, “selectively presenting the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” The terrorists, portrayed by four opera singers, will be given a back story, an “explanation” for their brutal act of terror and violence against their father, the sisters added.

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They also described their father as a “universal symbol” of the threat that terrorism poses to society, and said that they still struggle with the trauma of his murder.

“Our father was one of the first American victims of Middle Eastern terrorism. Nearly three decades later, after PanAm 103, 9/11, and countless other attacks and threats, Americans live under the deadly threat of terrorism each and every day,” the sisters said. “For our family, the impact of terrorism is obviously deeply personal. We lost our father because of the violent political agenda of these terrorists.

“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, and sullies the memory of a fine, principled, sweet man in the process.”

The sisters also noted that their family was not consulted by the opera’s composer and librettist, and “had no role in the development of the opera.”

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