Letters to the editor: Week of June 29, 2010

Delta and Saudi Arabia

Although not surprising, I obviously find it distasteful and aggravating that the Saudi government chooses to restrict the entry into their country of Jews and those with Israeli passports. Unfortunately, there is little I can do as a citizen of the United States to address this discrimination.

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However, when an American company chooses to adopt the same measures in order to reap the financial benefits of flying to Saudi Arabia and correspondingly accepts the Saudi Airline’s participation in its Skyteam Alliance, then we have a right to challenge Delta’s business decision to participate in these discriminatory and clearly anti-Semitic practices.

I question whether the resounding silence of so many would have occurred if the offending nation had been a country other than Saudi Arabia. I am reminded of a recent quote by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “We have allowed our morals to drown in an ocean of crude.”

Delta should be ashamed and its decision should be investigated. How incredibly sad. It’s time we stand up and be heard.

Jay B. Umansky, President St. Louis Region, American Jewish Congress

 

Debating ‘Klinghoffer’

The June 22 editorial suggests that controversy about the opera “The Death of Klinghoffer” revolves around the question, “Should the opera exist?” Actually, the question is “Should the Jewish community be using the opera to facilitate interfaith discussions?” There have been several comments from viewers that the audience definitely should feel that the murder of Leon Klinghoffer was a barbaric act. However, I was dismayed by the interview with librettist Alice Goodman in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Part of her goal was to convey the “romantic” and “idealistic” nature of the terrorists, since we must understand the humanity of the people we hate the most. In fact, the Post-Dispatch interview states that Alice Goodman tried to take a “balanced view” of the Middle East conflict.

There is no way to present an evenhanded presentation of an innocent man who is murdered by terrorists. A story in the Light cited the beautiful aria sung by the Marilyn Klinghoffer character, but this is “balanced” by a Palestinian chorus that sings about their homes being razed by the Israelis. If the opera were interested in the truth, the Palestinians would be singing that the Arab Command asked them to leave their homes. A spokesman for the Opera Theater stated the Palestinian chorus is included for “exposition.” I have also read the chorus is an “explanation” for the terrorists. It is no wonder that many who have seen the opera accuse the libretto of attempting to justify terrorism. It is also understandable that the Klinghoffers’ daughters would find this opera so upsetting.

In the movie version of “The Death of Klinghoffer,” the Palestinian chorus sings while Israelis are shooting at peaceful Palestinian villagers and forcing families out of their homes. From the comments about the St. Louis production, I surmise there are no such scenes at Opera Theatre. However, I remain skeptical that the current production can overcome the libretto. I cannot imagine an opera about 9/11 including Mohammed Atta singing about American troops “invading” Saudi Arabia or an opera about the Holocaust providing a Weimar Republic chorus. In any event, I hope that discussions of the opera actually were valuable to the participants. I hope that future dialogue will honestly portray the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Laura Goldmeier, Creve Coeur