‘Klinghoffer’ Opera Controversy in New York: Remember the Israeli Intelligence Role in Exposing PLO Hijacked the Ship?
The Metropolitan Opera, in New York, is going ahead with the controversial opera by John Adams — “Klinghoffer” — which, according to critics, gives too much credit and dignity to the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel complaints of Arab terrorists.
Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair user at age 69, was shot dead by the Palestinian hijackers of a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in October 1985. The innocent man from New York and his wheelchair were dumped overboard.
The opera performers who portray the terrorists sing, in “Klinghoffer,” about why they killed him — out of hatred for Jews and Israel.
A few days after the hijackers left the cruise ship — part of a deal that let them walk free in Egypt — Israel’s director of Military Intelligence (the agency known as Aman) gave reporters transcripts — and a snippet of audio — to “prove” that PLO leader Yasser Arafat had ordered the hijacking of the cruise ship.
The Aman director was a future prime minister, Maj. Gen. Ehud Barak. His rare revelations were written about in major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times which noted that Arafat’s role was not absolutely proven — and “one well-informed Israeli source said there were arguments within the military over whether to release the transcript.”
Readers may recall that when a chartered aircraft left Egypt — to fly the hijackers to wherever they wanted to go — President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. military jets to intercept that Egyptian airliner. It was forced to land at a NATO base in Italy.
It was Israel’s military intelligence — specifically its eavesdropping experts in Unit 8200 — that gave the United States government full details of the Egyptian plane that was about to take off with the hijackers aboard.
The Israelis were enraged — and the Americans extremely disappointed — when Italy then released the hijackers and their commander, Mohammed Abbas. Abbas, who had not been on the ship, was heard — in the Israeli recordings — chatting with and giving orders to the hijackers. Abbas, in subsequent interviews, would claim that he was merely mediating the hijackers’ peaceful surrender to Egypt.
One revelation out of the entire drama was that Israeli intelligence’s Unit 8200 could — and did — listen to virtually any radio communications in the Middle East.
Telephone calls, especially if they are on mobile (cellular) systems, are also relatively easy to intercept. As are e-mails.
Similar to what the NSA has said since the 2013 leaks by Edward Snowden, Israeli intelligence people say: “Our enemies know we are listening in on them, but still they have to communicate — and we have the electronic advantage.”