The Met Opera and Israel-more than meets the eye

The legendary late Arik Einstein once had a hit,”anything goes-even a sweeper shoots”,a line which came to my mind as I watch the outrage of the New York Met and the reactions and explanations given. If this is an even-handed opera about the conflict, as was explained to us, that is to say, that there is similarity between a cold-blooded Palestinian murderer and a wheel-chaired old Jew , then a sweeper can shoot. In real life that cannot really happen[what a surprise!…], but with the distorted, immoral, outrageous logic of the Met, we can brace ourselves to their next opera, “The Death of Haya Zissel-Brown”, the three months old baby slaughtered by a Palestinian called Abd Al Rahman Salhudi, another even-handed, peace-oriented show. Why not? Do I exaggerate?, am I carried away?, I think not, in fact, I am afraid that it is exactly what may happen.

So far, so conventional, that must be the interim conclusion of my readers[hope there are…], but here is where I , for one, want to take a departure from the main line of the reactions to the travesty in the Met, and try to put this event in the context of the overall campaign to delegitimize Israel. Let me state bluntly, though painfully; this was a defeat to Israel and its supporters. As it is inconceivable that a sweeper can shoot, so it was inconceivable , that in NYC, with over a million Jews, the Metropolitan Opera, an institution lavishly spoiled over the years by tons of Jewish money, will simply say to the Jews and all the other pro-Israel people in the city[and many are not Jews], ”we really do not care about you guys, the days are over when we took note of your concerns”. This is really what is unfolding here, an intentional display of disregard to the Jews, an intentional provocation, an intentional demonstration of the new age, the age of Israel and Jews bashing, something which has become the national sport , the most cherished hobby of so many Liberals, Jews included, in fact, Jews in the forefront of it.

There could be no such ”even-handed ” opera about gay people, African Americans , indeed any other minority. Jews are the only ones which are expected to ”understand”, maybe even to praise the fact that they are the ”Chosen People”, chosen to be again the pariah of the world,and even to justify it.
The truth is, that it is intended to be another link in the campaign against Israel. An obscure opera, shown over 20 years ago in Scotland and England finds its way to the Mecca of world opera in that particular timing , when the world-wide campaign against Israel over Gaza is in full force.

A coincidence?, not really, as it is not a coincidence that I connected the Met to Mecca. Is it possible , that Saudi money pays for this ”piece of art”?, or maybe Qatari money? Again, this is New York, the US circa 2014, and it is the wider context that we need to explore here. It is becoming a life-threatening situation to present the case for Israel in many American campuses, the academic boycott is gathering momentum, fueled and in many instances led by Liberal Jews. I hesitate to refer to these people as anti-semites, as self-hating, if not for any other reason, then for the fact that to collectivize a group of people with these definitions may do injustice to some among the. The majority of these people genuinely believe that boycotting Israeli academics can somehow bring peace with people like the murderer of little , pure Haya Zissel, or the leader of Hamas, Ismayil Haniyeh, whose daughter’s life were saved last week in the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, only for the proud Palestinian leader, the subject of Liberal Jews’ adulation , to praise the murderer of Haya Zissel. A hero , he called him. How right was Haim Nahman Bialik writing after the Kishinov pogrom, that Satan himself could not forgive the death of a child.

Middle East Studies in the US have long become a ”no teach ” zone for those considered pro-Israel[there are exceptions , of course…], but why go to this discipline? and what about the discipline of Jewish studies? We got a sad reminder about this just some time ago, when 8 out of the 9 members of the Jewish Studies program in the University of Illinois protested the decision of the university not to hire a fringe anti Israel propagandist, called Steven Salaita. This gentleman[?…], wrote that “after 1948, antisemitism became honorable”!. Even that peace-loving, pure Liberal statement did not stop the Jewish head of the Holocaust, Genocide and Memorial program there to protest the decision of the university, and not because of the First Amendment, but because this Holocaust expert[and he is!], associated himself with the opinions of Salaita.

Put in this context, and there are so many other examples, we can see, that the campaign against Israel is having a cultural and intellectual emphasis, no more just calls to boycott Israeli goods. This is an all -out campaign to erase any possible claim of legitimacy for Israel. When it is adopted by the Met in New York, it is no more ”another” indication of a problem, it is a dramatic slap in our collective face. No more fortress America, welcome to the new world, where Israel and the Jews have become the global scapegoat. Count the days for the next Met show about us. Nothing is more successful than success , and the next script may have already been ordered. Believe me when i conclude, that it is the worst I witnessed in my 30 odd years of Israel advocacy.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina