From The Wall Street Journal
February 20, 2003
This Tide of Madness - The world must
stand against the evil that took my son's life.
By Judea Pearl
Tomorrow will mark the first
anniversary of the day the world learned of the murder
of my son Daniel Pearl,
a reporter for this newspaper. It is time to step back
and reflect on the significance of this tragedy.
has been written on the new challenges that Danny's
murder represents to international journalism. But
relatively little attention was given to one aspect
of the motives of the perpetrators, specifically to
the role of anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiments
in the planning and execution of the murder. In fact,
what shocked and united people from all over the world
was the nature of those motives.
The murder weapon
in Danny's case was aimed not at a faceless enemy or
institution, but at a gentle human
being--one whose face is now familiar to millions of
people around the world. Danny's murderers spent a
week with him; they must have seen his radiating humanity.
Killing him so brutally, and in front of a video camera,
marked a new low in man's inhumanity to man. People
of all faiths were thus shocked to realize that mankind
can still be dragged to such depths by certain myths
Danny was killed because he represented
us, namely the ideals that every civilized person aspires
openness, pluralism, freedom of inquiry, truth, honesty
and respect for all people. Decent people of all backgrounds
have consequently felt personally targeted in this
crime, and have been motivated to carry on Danny's
Reactions to Danny's death varied from community
to community. In Pakistan, many have condemned the
as a barbaric act carried out by a minority of fanatics
at the fringe of society, while some find absolution
in assuming that Danny was a spy. Sadly, anti-Semitism
and sympathies with the perpetrators, as revealed in
the trial of Omar Sheikh, seem to be more widespread
than openly admitted. The trial itself is at a puzzling
standstill, with no date set for appeal decision. In
Saudi Arabia, the murder video has been used to arouse
and recruit new members to terrorist organizations.
In Europe, Danny's murder has been condemned as an
attack against journalism, while the anti-American,
anti-Jewish sentiments were played down considerably.
This is understandable, considering the anti-American
and anti-Western sentiment echoed in editorials in
some respectable European newspapers.
Danny's captors concentrated on his Jewish and Israeli
heritage. Evidently the murderers were
confident that Danny's Jewish connections were sufficient
to license the gruesome murder they were about to commit.
Such a brazen call to condone the killing of a human
being by virtue of his religion or heritage is strongly
reminiscent of the horrors perpetrated by Nazi Germany.
In a world governed by reason and leadership, one
would expect world leaders to immediately denounce
calls before they become an epidemic. However, President
Bush was the only world leader to acknowledge the connection
between Danny's murder and the rise of anti-Semitism: "We
reject the ancient evil of anti-Semitism whether it
is practiced by the killers of Daniel Pearl or by those
who burn synagogues in France." No European head
of state rose to John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein
Berliner" with the morally equivalent statement "Today,
I am a Jew."
Not surprisingly, our unguided world
has seen an alarming rise of anti-Semitic activity
in the past year. Tens
of millions of Muslims have become unshakably convinced
that Jews were responsible for the Sept. 11 attack.
Egypt's state-controlled television aired a 30-part
program based on the notorious anti-Semitic book "The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and Egyptians
were fed another fantasy, that Jews are plotting to
take over the world. Syria's defense minister, Mustafa
Tlas, released the eighth edition of his book, "The
Matzah of Zion," in which he accuses Jews of using
the blood of Christians to bake matzah for Passover.
And on the sideline, while these flames of hatred were
consuming sizable chunks of the world's population,
traditionally vocal champions of antiracism remained
Against this tide of madness the world is about
to remember Daniel Pearl--a Jew, a citizen of the
world, and a dialogue maker who formed genuine connections
among people of different backgrounds. In Danny's
we have asked every community that plans to commemorate
the anniversary of his death to invite a neighboring
synagogue, mosque, church or temple of different
faith to join in a prayer for a sane and humane world,
world free of the hatred that took Danny's life.
Interfaith memorials will take place, starting tonight,
Angeles, New York, Toronto, London and Jerusalem,
with additional services planned world-wide.
that the combination of multifaith attendance, joint
statements against intolerance, and the unifying
global spirit of the day will serve as catalysts
for building alliances against the rising tide
dehumanization, and xenophobia.
Dr. Pearl is the father
of Daniel Pearl and president of the Daniel Pearl