Solving the Prisoner’s Dilemma: The Death of Klinghoffer at the Met

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Excerpted from a article by Craig Hatkoff and Irwin Kula: Game theory’s famous Prisoner’s Dilemma has many variations. Consider the case where two “rational” individuals who might not cooperate even when it’s in their best interest; “irrational” behavior, albeit riskier, can lead to a better outcome for each. Are we witnessing a solution to the Prisoner’s Dilemma unfolding at the Metropolitan Opera?

Controversy surrounding the Met’s production of The Death of Klinghoffer that premiers at Lincoln Center tonight has pitted passionate advocates for the freedom of artistic expression against claims that John Adams’ critically acclaimed opera is anti-Semitic. Passions on both sides have created a “prison of polarization” with no ostensible way out. Can the personal narratives and experiences of key players inform and embolden to make choices that expose themselves to personal criticism but might solve the Prisoner’s Dilemma?

On January 26, 1972 18-year old Peter Gelb arrived five minutes late to work at the offices of his employer, music impresario Sol Hurok, the man responsible for initiating cultural exchange programs with famous Russian artists from Vladimir Rubenstein to the Bolshoi Ballet. Hurok’s programs had sparked the ire of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the leader of the militant Jewish Defense League (JDL). Kahane accused Hurok in increasingly heated rhetoric of supporting the Russian government’s vicious anti-Semitism. The FBI had formally recognized the JDL, whose hallmark refrain was “never again” as a terrorist organization whose tactics regularly utilized violence and intimidation.

Read the full Forbes article online on the Off White Papers blog. Originally written by Craig Hatkoff and Irwin Kula and published on October 19th, 2014, the Off White Papers are part of Forbes’ Leadership section, contemplating the deeper, disruptive angles of historically and emerging innovations from healthcare and politics to arts and culture.   



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