I invite you to my imaginary theater, have a seat. The lights are going down; the crowd is becoming quiet, the music, tonal and resonating, begins in the background. This movie is about facts and historical events that underpin them. I want you to feel that you are walking away from this experience with understanding and knowledge, but I want you to appreciate the motivations on both sides.
The speakers release the strains of something martial and triumphant as it slowly builds. The screen begins to show you something, you are seeing the world through the eyes of a man. He is sitting in the cockpit of an airliner and the windscreen is wreathed in cloud.
The music builds. Your heart races and you are seeing the clear September sky beginning to pierce the veil of clouds. Suddenly the view expands and there before you is the New York and your view rushes forward as you use the controls to slam the passengers of American Airlines Flight 11 into Tower 1.
Now how do you feel? You were told this was a movie based on the facts of an event intended to tell both sides of the story. I would imagine you would be upset at this point. Now maybe you can appreciate what the family of Leon Klinghoffer is going through.
Does that name ring a bell? I know the name, I watched the coverage, and I saw the news the day he died. Here are the facts. Leon Klinghoffer was an American, he was Jewish, and he was in a wheelchair. He was on his 36th Wedding anniversary with his wife on the cruise ship, Achille Lauro. He was murdered by the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLO) in protest of the American support of Israel and the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Those are the facts.
Let me add something more contemporary. The New York Met is conducting a play that starts today. The play is called “The Death of Klinghoffer”. Not “The Murder,” as one might expect, simply “The Death. The play was written by composer John Adams in 1991 and the musical opening is “Chorus of Exiled Palestinians.”
The Met wants people to see and decide; they have not bowed to pressure to cancel the show. The play, they say, is supposed to tell both sides of the story.
How many “sides” are there to a story of a ruthless murder carried out by terrorists? I don’t need to see the show. No cause is justified in the death of an innocent man who was helpless before they murdered him and no threat to them at the time. He was simply the most horrific attention-getting slaughter they could achieve.
I remember this event and I did not understand how anyone could claim that justice was even remotely possible. That was 1985 and people still claim that the Palestinian cause has the right to such violence. There are claims even today that the PLO, Hamas, and others are only using the tactics that they are forced by the world to use.
No one is required to use force. The terrorists of the PLO, Hamas, and others are all volunteers. No one made them do anything; they chose to be violent. If the PLO or Hamas had devoted a shred of effort into the process of peace, there might be a vastly different world than there is today. But they don’t.
They chose violence from the beginning and nothing has changed. It does not matter that they have lost for the last 60 years. They still resort to violence when history shows that they are wrong.
The Met thinks this play is a valid art form and this is where I take issue. We have free speech and what I know about the opera or a play could be written in a matchbook with a large felt marker.
But I do know that Leon Klinghoffer was an innocent man guilty of nothing in the eyes of the world and there is no justification to award his killers with mitigation by attempting to explain the history of why he was murdered. He was murdered in a callous act by violent merciless men with no moral scruples and no virtues.
This is where people are intellectually led astray. A Palestinian terrorist selected, abused, and murdered an innocent man. There is no historical justification for the act. It does not matter if Israel occupies land claimed by Palestine. It does not matter if the United States supports Israel. It would not have mattered if a Palestinian was killed every hour.
Leon Klinghoffer did none of those things. But he paid for the perceived injustice to the Palestinians with his life. An innocent man in a wheelchair murdered to make a statement. He was murdered for what he was, not what he did. There is no justice in that act.
This is the fact of terror. The claim that an action has justification so that the world will pay attention to the trials and tribulations of another group by use of terror and death to innocent people is false. There is no validation. One crime does not cancel out another perceived crime.
The fact that the Palestinians do not share the rule of the territory that both they and the Israelites occupy, is the fault of the Palestinians. They walked away from the bargaining table. They started the civil unrest. The Palestinians resorted to violence instead of negotiation.
The Met is not changing history by making some claim about the rationalization of the ‘death” of Leon. They are pandering to an alternative history in which the Palestinians can kill whomever they chose so that the world will pay attention to them. They legitimize the violence by repeating it as history and excuse instead of condemning it.
Israel survives because the Palestinians are morally bankrupt. They lost when they resorted to violence instead of diplomacy. They lost when they murdered innocent people instead of dealing with the issues their own violence created. They can wail all they want to about Palestinian dead killed by Israeli bombs. The only question, “who fired first?” is always answered: Palestinians.
Palestinians danced in the streets and burned American Flags on 9/11 in solidarity with Al Qaeda. When the Columbia Space Shuttle exploded with an Israeli astronaut aboard, they celebrated and called it the will of Allah.
The Met is wrong. No art that glorifies the murder of an innocent man with triumph is worthwhile. Art is such a varied term. Mark Powell of Australia is an artist, but it is not something that I would recommend to the faint of heart. Similarly, the Met can claim that “The Death of Klinghoffer” is art and should be appreciated for that alone.
The difference, one makes disturbing images from the recesses of his inner being and the other is glorifying the depravity of a group of people who see nothing wrong with the murder of the helpless so long as it gains them attention.
There may have been justification in the Palestinians needs, but the tactics they use to obtain them stain and corrupt any virtue that they might once have claimed and there is no proper defense for exemplifying that behavior on a stage.
An innocent man was murdered for the political complaints of another. To attempt to rationalize it makes you as morally bankrupt as those who committed the act. There is absolutely no moral or ethical way for this play to be anything but contemptuous of the murder and glorification of his killers even if there are those who appear to like it.
If everything is the will of Allah, how come the Palestinians have such a hard time accepting that Allah wants them to get their asses kicked by Israel every single day? You would think that people who claim to believe in their faith would realize they are exactly where they are supposed to be because they would be somewhere else if Allah had willed it that way.