We support art - but this is not balanced

By Ilsa and Lisa Klinghoffer, February 16, 2012
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On October 8, 1985, our father, Leon, was viciously shot in the head by Palestinian hijackers. The terrorists threw his body, along with his wheelchair, overboard.

Later this month, a baritone portraying our father will appear on the London stage in the ENO's production of The Death of Klinghoffer, which aims to provide insight and understanding into this heinous terrorist attack.

Unfortunately, The Death of Klinghoffer perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to rationalise, legitimise, and explain it. The opera's juxtaposition of the plight of the Palestinian people with the coldblooded murder of an innocent disabled American Jew is both disingenuous and appalling.

We are strong supporters of the arts and believe that theatre can play a critical role in examining and understanding significant world events. This opera does no such thing.

Our parents, Leon and Marilyn, were on board the Achille Lauro with a group of life-long friends, celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary when the Palestinian terrorists struck.

The terrorists seized the ship off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt and moved quickly to separate the American and British passport-holders, paying special attention to the Jewish passengers whom they taunted and tormented.

Our mother Marilyn, then gravely ill with cancer, told us that the terrorists hit her with their rifles as they danced around the ship chanting "Arafat, yes; Reagan, no!" They paid particular attention to our 69-year-old, stroke-ridden, wheelchair-bound father. Within a week, his body was discovered washed up on the Syrian shore.

The people who murdered him were not benign, thoughtfully conflicted characters. They were hard-core terrorists, whose goal was to wreak havoc and destruction for base political motives. There can be no "balance" and no "objectivity" to these basic facts.

Ilsa and Lisa Klinghoffer founded the Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation of the ADL in 1985. It works to combat the threat of terrorism through educational, political and legal means.

Last updated: 1:38pm, February 16 2012