Guardian

Guardian contributor suggests Leon Klinghoffer’s murder wasn’t motivated by antisemitism


When it comes to the issue of antisemitism and Israel, ‘diversity’ at the Guardian generally signifies merely giving voice to contributors with differing reasons on why something or someone is not antisemitic, and the precise reason why Israel is of course in the wrong.   

An article published in their music section, titled ‘We took four New Yorkers to the Metropolitan Theater’s production of The Death of Klinghoffer: what was their verdict?‘, aired the views of four contributors, all of whom arrived at the inevitable conclusion: The Death of Klinghoffer is not antisemitic, and doesn’t justify terrorism or humanize terrorists.

Whilst we encourage you to read a review of the opera (based on the 1985 Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking and terrorist murder of a wheelchair bound Jewish passenger named Leon Klinghoffer), by CAMERA Senior Analyst Myron Kaplan, which provides one of the better arguments among those morally offended by the production, a passage in one of the Guardian reviews, by Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi, is especially worth noting as it aptly represents the quintessentially Guardian tick of obfuscating antisemitism.  

The Guardian chose its contributors for this opera review wisely.

Bayoumi:

Klinghoffer wants to collapse the complexities of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians into a timeless religious battle between Muslims and Jews.

Like the next guy, I find it annoying when historians pedantically tell you which little facts are wrong in a work of art based on history, but my point is not about the details. By suggesting that this conflict is based in religion and not in territory, Klinghoffer removes much of the history (and people) of this conflict and replaces it with a mythic clash of civilisations

It’s remarkable that we even need to point this out, but Klinghoffer was an innocent American Jew murdered – because he was a Jew – by Palestinian hijackers belonging to the Palestine Liberation Front, a component of Yasser Arafat’s PLO.

In other words, for the Palestinian terrorists who shot and killed the elderly Jewish man, and threw his body overboard, the conflict was indeed about their understanding of the “religious battle” against the Jews, and their antisemitic belief that no Jews anywhere in the world is innocent, and all are indeed legitimate targets.

The fact that the Palestinian national movement – whatever it’s pretense of merely representing the quest to reclaim lost territory – has always been motivated in large measure by extreme antisemitism would only be considered controversial by those steeped in the faux-liberal worldview of the Guardian Left

29 replies »

  1. I forced myself to watch it on TV in its interminable entirety.
    Verdict. Certainly anti-Semitic, morally bankrupt…worse still, depraved.
    From a musical perspective, only poseurs would claim it has any artistic merit.
    It was a vehicle for boiler plate Arab propaganda masquerading as a work of art, gratefully received by anti Semites.

  2. The hatred by these killers was too deep to represent a situation only regarding land in Israel. To shoot and then throw a person in a wheelchair into the sea is so unconscionable, that I can hardly imagine such hatred. This was the kind of thing the Nazis did. But then, that is the side the Arabs were on.

  3. first off I think this Opera is blown out of proportion. It played in Europe a few years ago and nobody paid any attention then. Why now? It reminds me of the Mohammed cartoons which only came to a wider audience after Danish Islamofascists rehashed the story again and again until it caught fire. You need to pick your battles in this fight and not bark every time someone walks past the fence.
    I do understand the Klinghoffer family in this matter.

    In regards to Moustafa’s writings, I’d like to point to the Left’s and Nazism’s fondness of pseudo academic discourse. With sadness I register a need for the most perverse idea’s to be propped up by arguments of the insane. Arguments which are made up, twisted in their ‘logic’, like a dislocated shoulder joint.
    Where a caucasian to explain to a person of colour what racism is it would be offensive, rightly so I think.
    An academic Arab telling Jew’s why the murder of a wheel chair bound Jew is not anti-semitic is another instance where we need to think if cultural relativism starts not to resemble a malignant basketball sized tumor on all our sphincter’s ?
    Will we now sit on our hips and get used to the fact that sitting upright is no longer an option ?

    • “You need to pick your battles in this fight” – yet another example of the pusillanimity that says “but this is not real antisemitism, don’t complain or you’ll annoy the haters, and you’ll be cheapening the concept of antisemitism”.

  4. I am a proponent of free speech, so I think the playwrite had a right to say what he wanted. What makes me uneasy about the play is this:
    The play portrays as fact the Palestinian narrative, and assigns to it the causual factor for the terrorist’s hatred.
    In fact, the cause of suffering for the Palestinians and the death of Mr. Klinghoffer itself was a product of the same anti-semitism. The hatred that enabled the terrorists to kill an innocent man in a wheel chair, is the same hatred that caused the Arabs to go to war with Israel repeatedly, causing the events that the playwrite takes as the starting point.
    The root cause is anti-semitism. By not identifying it, the author justifies it.

    Stan

    • Of course it justifiesw, nay glorifies antisemitism.
      But the biggest canard here is that this is a ‘free speech’ issue. It is not. This concept is simply called upon by the bigots to confuse the issue and justify their bigotry (unless they really believe in this nonsense). Free speech refers to the absence of legal bars on expressing ideas (and even then it has SOME limits, arguably applicable here in prohibiting incitement to harm Jews). It does not refer to individuals and groups exercising THEIR right to protest about antisemitism.
      Not original, but here’s a though experiment: an opera is written that sympathises with the KKK and their desperate struggle against oppression by blacks. Tell me that it wouldn’t be shut down for inciting hatred against blacks.

      • “Tell me that it wouldn’t be shut down for inciting hatred against blacks.”

        It would not have to be shut down. It would never had been produced in the first place. Unfortunately the world sees the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as a battle between two cultures. It is not. It is a manifestation of antisemitism. The play itself perpetrates the misconception and creates a moral equivalency.

        Stan

  5. I think the Guardian has a thing against American Jews. You know, with our AIPACs and inabilities to just simply be shot in the head on a cruise ship, dumped overboard while still in our wheelchairs, and our subsequent disgust with an opera written around such a specific incident that just happens to abuse the memories of the guy who never wanted to be shot in the head.

    • No. The Guardian has a thing against Jews. But you are right, their special venom is directed at Jews who don’t know their place.

      • The Guardian doesn’t like Israel, that is clear. And they enjoy Jews who don’t like Israel. What the Guardian promotes, however, is the constant trope that American Jews are somehow controlling American policy. That is why it’s okay to sing songs about murdering Leon Klinghoffer.

        And, yeah, I take that personally.

        • And they enjoy Jews who don’t like Israel.

          Yes. One can state with almost 100% certainty that if a Jew is a Guardian employee, he/she must be an anti Zionist Jew. And as you write, they look for all negativeness in Israel and Jews unless they are anti Zionist Jews. The Guardian editorial management would deny this but, then again, they also deny that they seek the destruction of the Zionist entity.

          The laughable thing is that one of the first things that was implemented after Khomeini took the reigns of power in Iran in 1970, was the almost complete destruction of the Iranian ‘Left’ and Khomeini’s agents even attempted to assassinate those leftists who managed to escape to Europe. France in particular. The same France that gave Khomeini political asylum when agents of the Shah were out to ‘send him beyond’.

          • One can state with almost 100% certainty that if a Jew is a Guardian employee, he/she must be an anti Zionist Jew.

            What a preposterous comment. Jonathan Freedland? Hadley Freeman?

            p.s. What’s your latest moniker on CiF? You’ve had so many …

        • I agree with you Kouf.
          For me this “opera” is above all insensitive to the family of the murdered Leon.

          Starting with its title which downplays that it was a murder and that Leon was a human.
          What is this suppose to be some sort of fiction work about a dead cat?

          I mean John Adamas wrote music to commemorate the 9/11 attacks so he values American lives but obviously not the Jewish ones, or at least not to the same degree.

  6. Reading Bayoumi’s entire review, the quote given in the post is by no means the strangest. That dubious honour perhaps goes to the paragraph which runs through the organisational background of the PLF; Bayoumi accuses Klinghoffer of portraying Palestinians as ‘wrong and dangerous,’ when in fact these people are Marxists, perhaps even Christians (as if Marxist antisemitism isn’t wrong, or Christian murderers aren’t dangerous). It’s quite clear that this keenness to distinguish between Muslim fundamentalism and Marxism-Leninism is an attempt to paint the latter as legitimate, and accuse the opera of failing to properly represent just how legitimate these individuals’ cause was, instead tainting it by association with religious radicalism. That is to say, whilst the opposition to the opera stems from a claim that it acts as an apologist for terrorism, his complaint is that it fails to do so.

    That whole section seems strange, actually, as he then asks ‘why does the Palestinian woman in Muslim clothing push Omar to killing for Islam? Are all Palestinians Muslim, and all Muslims violent?’ As it turns out, this isn’t a story of ‘all Palestinians,’ but of specific people, those who were involved in what was an actual historical event. Were those people violent? Quite obviously. Were they Muslim, or perhaps Christian? Should the opera recast an actual Muslim as a Christian just so that they better represent Arabs as a whole, rather than representing the event (and individual) that it is based on? (Similarly, Yaakov Teitel is Jewish whilst Taysir Hayb is Druze, so one would expect any opera based on the actual events in their lives would preserve their respective identities, without anybody asking whether all Israelis are Jewish, could the Teitel character not have been Christian etc.)

  7. So what he is essentially saying is that the murder of any Jew anywhere is mitigated by the circumstances of the Palestinians.

  8. Sure, the murder wasn`t motivated by antisemitism, they just didn`t like people with wheelchairs,.

  9. The Guardian likes to think that by the power of its moral infallibility, a new reality is created; where the killing of wheel-chair bound Jews has a much deeper, profound and virtuous meaning than anything an incorrigible, racist, warmongering, thieving Zionist could ever understand.

    By actually calling it what it really is; a heinous, cold-blood act of murderous anti-Semitism, Rusbridger and the rest of that gang of pompous, privileged Jew-baiters would have to acknowledge the moral bankruptcy, depravity and bigotry that lies at the centre of their ‘progressive’ view of the world.

    • where the killing of wheel-chair bound Jews has a much deeper, profound and virtuous meaning

      Oh please. That’s just ridiculous. None of the four reviewers says anything of the kind. Or show us a previous Guardian article or editorial that depicts the murder of Klinghoffer as “virtuous”.

  10. Like the next guy, I find it annoying when historians pedantically tell you which little facts are wrong in a work of art based on history, but my point is not about the details. By suggesting that this conflict is based soley on territory and not culture and religion, Bayoumi removes much of the history (and people) of this conflict and replaces it with a mythic country and civilization.

  11. Having not seen the play, I can’t say whether it justifies terrorism. But one thing I am sure of: Klinghoffer’s murder was obviously a cold-blooded act motivated by anti-Semitism.

  12. A similar moral equivalence position, I recall, was taken up over Spielberg’s “Munich”. No matter how repugnant the atrocities against (US)Jews/Israelis are, none compare with the “eternal” suffering of the Palestinians. The brain dead anti-zionist/guardianista is locked into this polemic, unable to realise that there are 2 sides and one, the Arab, refuses to acknowledge any culpability whatsoever.

  13. Guardian contributor suggests Leon Klinghoffer’s murder wasn’t motivated by antisemitism

    … except he doesn’t!