Anti-Met demonstration seriously underachieves

Anti-Met demonstration seriously underachieves


norman lebrecht

September 23, 2014

Protestors wearing yellow stars and carrying anti-Gelb placards failed to fill the plaza outside the Metropolitan Opera yesterday as blck-tie patrons arrived for a season-opening gala.




Despite busing in classes of schoolchildren from the outer boroughs, the number of demonstrators was estimated by our observers at barely one thousand. On the plus side, the demo was peaceful and light-hearted. One congressman called for cuts to Lincoln Center’s public funding (he will have to search hard to find any).

The Death of Klinghoffer will open next month.


photos (c) Shawn Milnes/Slipped Disc


  • Neil McGowan says:

    I am fairly sure that if you peeled the posters off their backing-boards, you would find “Shame on you, Gergiev!” underneath.

    Rent-a-mob strikes again – and as usual, they have no clue about what they are demonstrating.

    • MWnyc says:

      Neil, perhaps you’re not aware of this, as you don’t live in new York, but the overlap between people who object to Gergiev’s support of Putin and (tacitly) of Putin’s anti-gay policies and people who object to The Death of Klinghoffer enough to demonstrate against it is rather small.

  • Paul Shaw says:

    I am struck by the sneering tone of so many of the comments on this issue – on this and the two other recent postings. Over and over again comes the assertion that those who chose to protest this production are ignorant, militant, “rent-a-mob” …. crazy new York Jews. Hold on – aren’t ‘New York jews’ the overwhelming supporters and sustainers of the Met and every other cultural event and institution in New York???

    The ‘bused schoolchildren’ were high school students who voluntarily wanted to take part in this protest. Please explain to me why it is praiseworthy when schools organize participation in all sorts of protests (the Climate Change protest on the same day outside the UN is a good example), but when they do so on this issue it is ‘rent-a-mob’? the teens I saw interviewed on local TV were articulate, thoughtful and entirely appropriate.

    • Save The MET says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Gelb’s love affair with John Adams has crossed a line this time. I expect a number of Jewish donors will spend their money elsewhere this year. Ann Ziff’s husband, whose money she gives away to the MET should revisit her husband’s legacy, he was a Revisionist Zionist. He would be appalled his money was being spent on an organization that would offer Klinghoffer. By the way, one can describe just about anything as art. Describing this opera as a great work of art is like stretching a balloon beyond it’s tolerance.

    • Neil McGowan says:

      The ‘bused schoolchildren’ were high school students who voluntarily wanted to take part in this protest.

      Sure they were, Paul! Sure they were!!!

      • Paul Shaw says:

        Well, Mr. McGowan, I happen to know EXACTLY what I am talking about, as I am Head of School at a major Jewish school in Manhattan. (And, no, my school did not participate in the demonstration). I participated in the discussion around this, and I know exactly what the arrangements were – which were, in the case of every school, participation was completely voluntary, and buses were laid on from the outer boroughs because of the complexity of NY public transport. I cannot speak for other schools, but my guess is that students probably paid for their fares. I have no idea where you live, but in the NY area schools – public and private – use Yellow buses for everything. BTW, I am wondering if you make the same assumptions/implications about student participation (by bus!) in every demonstration? Should we discount the young people who participated in the Climate Change demo? Or were they idealistic youngsters whose sensitivity and activism on that issue are admirable?

        • Mikey says:

          So how many of these students had actually seen or heard the opera? As many as among the organizers of protest? Was there even a single person among the protesters who knew anything other than “what they’d been told” about the opera?

        • Neil McGowan says:

          I happen to know EXACTLY what I am talking about

          You strike me as someone who LOVES to talk down to other people, Shaw – and to make decisions on behalf of your pupils, and tell them what they should think.

          Have you ever seen this opera, Shaw??? Do you know anything about it at all??

          I can just imagine the veins standing out on your neck as you bang your keyboard with your messages.

      • Save the MET says:

        McGowan, you are a troll on this thread. You are not Jewish, you don’t have a dog in this fight. They absolutely were high school kids who came on a voluntary basis. At this point you have been made a fool. Suggest you climb under a rock.

        • Neil McGowan says:

          You are not Jewish

          How very little you know….

          So does one now have to actually prove one’s Bar-Mitzvah to be able to post on this thread?? This is about an opera

          Don’t try that “only Jews are entitled” stuff here. It’s a straw man argument, and only serves to further discredit the cause you espouse.

        • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

          Am I supposed to be Jewish so as to be considered eligible to participate in this debate? I hope not. (Disclosure: I am not a Jew, but a Christian who tries to follow Jesus – who was a Jew). I have not seen nor heard this opera; I did see and hear Doctor Atomic and Nixon in China, and, to name other works, The Flowering Tree, El Nino, and The Gospel According to the Other Mary – but I digress. The acrimony displayed here makes me want to ask of a long weekend off from work and fly to New York to see and hear for myself. I suspect that I may be not the only one considering this.. I hope I shall not have to have reason to fear for my safety when crossing the Plaza and entering the Met. I repeat what I have written elsewhere on this page as comment to an earlier post on this topic: I regret not to have gone to St. Louis to attend St. Louis Opera’s production, and at least a few of the events surrounding it to offer information, critical debate, and the chance to approach the piece in a context not only limited to the perennial Palestinian-Israeli conflict. St. Louis has put New York to shame, as is depressingly evident.

          • MWnyc says:

            Edgar, there’s a very fine video of the opera available – a made-for-TV production for the BBC, directed by Penny Woolcock and featuring a marvelous performance by Sanford Sylvan.

  • Paul Shaw says:

    BTW, I am not sure what “Seriously underachieves” means (cf the headline to this post). The call to protest was a modest email, circulated just a few days ago, by what appeared to be the initiative of some private individuals (I know because I received it). There was a protest — peaceful, non-intimidating, non-threatening (as far as the reports go). The Met is entitled to stage the production; those who believed it was wrong to do so, on whatever grounds, were entitled to say so, and to protest. They do not deserve the insults and sneers heaped on them by many of the commenters here – which may, in turn, shed some light on why many people feel so uncomfortable about this production, regardless of whether they turned out to demonstrate or not.

  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    Ooooohhhh, it’s not Anti-Klinghoffer that’s going-on in the Big Apple but Anti-Gelb.
    Eldest trick of the book folks: attack not the man but attack His Thing. Si simple comme bonjours in effect.
    But the fact that by this pumped-up action operacomposer maestro John Adams – in my view the one and only American composer of great, worldwide importance – is compromised; this should just be a matter of ‘collateral damage’?
    Bullocks. It’s shamefull, damned shamefull.

  • mikeinnyc says:

    First, a small correction: Dov Hikind, who called for cutting off public money for Lincoln Center, is NOT a congressperson. He is a New York State assemblyperson, a far right-ring Democrat.
    As for the demonstration itself, by proclaiming in favor of censorship, this very, very small number of members of the Jewish community demonstrates a fundamental lack of appreciation of life in a pluralistic society. Instead of recognizing that Met patrons may be capable of making up their own minds [as I intend to do when I attend the opening performance], the demonstrators only succeed in bolstering their own sense of self-importance and superiority. If you feel the opera is offensive, don’t see it.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Duly noting the protesting Rabbi Avi Weiss’s violent fantasy of the sets of the opera “burning down to the ground.”

  • Eric says:

    It is not accurate to call a State Assembly member a Congressman. The State Assembly is one of the two legislative houses specifically for New York State. Congress is a federal body. State and Federal legislatures are not the same.