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August 23, 2017 4:25 pm

New York Times Publishes Paean to ‘Klinghoffer’ Opera Author

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

If there was any remaining doubt that the New York Times is biased specifically against traditional Judaism and not merely against all religions, the Times’ latest outrage — an adoring profile of an Anglican priest and writer of operas named Alice Goodman — ought to extinguish it.

The Times article begins on the front of the paper’s arts section, accompanied by a large color photograph of Goodman in Christian clerical garb. It jumps inside the section, where it occupies more than the top half of a full page and is accompanied by another three photographs. When was the last time a rabbi got such adoring or extensive treatment from the Times?

The article reports that Goodman “seemed to vanish from the scene after her subsequent collaboration with Mr. Adams and Mr. Sellars, the still-controversial ‘Death of Klinghoffer.’ Raised Jewish, she converted to Christianity in 1989 and in 2001 was ordained an Anglican priest in England.”

Why is the “Death of Klinghoffer” “controversial”? The Times further explains:

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In 1991, the “Nixon” team created “The Death of Klinghoffer,” which addressed the real-life hijacking of a cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists and their murder of a Jewish-American passenger in a wheelchair. Much of the action is stylized, but the opera has been dogged since its premiere by accusations that it is problematic, and even anti-Semitic, in its attempt to depict the deep historical roots of the terrorists’ anger.

“Anything I might say about the controversy would pour gasoline on the embers,” Ms. Goodman said, adding, “I doubt I’ll ever write anything better than the libretto of ‘The Death of Klinghoffer.’”

The firestorm over “Klinghoffer” took Mr. Adams away from opera for years.

Imagine if someone wrote an opera that was “dogged” by “accusations” that it was sexist, racist or homophobic. Would the author of that opera be treated to a flattering front-of-the-arts section profile on the basis of the thin excuse of the occasion of the earlier-in-the-summer release of a paperback collection of already-released works?

Only antisemitism is a bias that the Times can shrug off as a kind of minor nuisance, something to be overlooked amid breathlessly positive assertions about how Goodman is “often underrated” and “crucial to the development of American opera.”

Meanwhile, a lot of Jewish authors who haven’t converted to Christianity and whose works aren’t dogged by accusations of antisemitism have their books totally ignored by the Times, the same newspaper that lavishes favorable attention on Goodman.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.


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  • ricardo

    This opera made my blood curl. It was so disgusting and revolting that I completely lost interest in all operas, even the great ones written by Mozart and Tchaikovsky. When I start watching any of those operas, my first thought comes back to Klinghoffer and the way he was murdered and the fact that 30 years later someone wrote a justification for his murder.

    The only thing that gives me peace is the knowledge that I will be dead when someone like Ms Goodman in the future makes a similar opera in which Mohammed Attah is the hero against American tiranny in the 2001 attacks that murdered thousands of people.

  • dante

    the swinish, ignorant, hateful goodman & nyt: kindred spirits. despicable.