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June 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

New York magazine has published a scathing commentary by its music critic on the decision of the Metropolitan Opera to remove John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer from a series of planned live broadcasts to 2,000 movie theaters worldwide. The decision followed complaints by the Anti-Defamation League and others that the opera is anti-Semitic. The Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, told the Wall Street Journal that while he doesn’t believe the work is anti-Semitic or pro-terrorist as alleged, there was "great concern, which I think is justified" about "anything that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as pro-terrorist." But in his commentary, the music critic, Justin Davidson, has suggested that the move will now provide "fodder for a thousand anti-Semites’ conspiracy theories" among those who have never seen the opera. If the Met had taken no action at all, he notes, the "screening would have remained a quiet, relatively esoteric affair." It has already been performed in opera houses all over Europe, he noted, and the Met has said that it plans to go ahead with a live production in New York in the fall. "Sure: An opera that shows the murder of an American Jew by Palestinian terrorists could incite anti-Semitism," Davidson concluded, "but so does being Jewish." Likewise, Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed commented that concern about the opera inflaming anti-Semitism "have been raised every time Klinghoffer has been performed" since 1988. "But in fact, the only anti-Semitism this work … has ever engendered has been because of often successful pressure from Jewish groups to ban performances of Klinghoffer rather than incorporate poetic tragedy into the peace process."