Reader Post: The De-Judaization of Daniel Pearl

After giving the Daniel Pearl Lecture, US Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted:

She then followed it with this Tweet:

Back in 2005, Daniel Pearl’s father rejected such thinking when he wrote “The ‘cycle of violence’ platitude allows analysts to empower terror with the guise of reciprocity, and, amazingly, indict terror’s victims for violence as immutable as DNA.”

In that piece,  Dr. Pearl also wrote:

“Somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of “resistance,” has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words “war on terror” cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.”

And yet The Daniel Pearl Foundation’s bio of Daniel Pearl put the phrase “war on terror” in quotes.

Daniel Pearl’s parents responded to the murder of their son with a book called I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl. And yet the Daniel Pearl Foundation’s bio of Daniel Pearl links to Daniel’s book At Home in the World but doesn’t mention his book I am Jewish. The only occurrence of the word “Jew” in Pearl’s biography is “The terrorists believed they abducted a media figure, an American, and a Jew. But they had much more — a true citizen of the world …” Other than that minimizing reference of Jew as lesser than citizen of the world, Pearl’s biography was de-Judaized.

In a 2006 interview, Dr. Pearl said his first emotion when finding that his son was killed because he was a Jew was “he doesn’t deserve it, because he was so universal, so open-minded.” But then he thought “This is a part of the risk we take for being Jews and moral animals.”

When asked “Is the price of being Jewish in today’s world too high?” Pearl answers (with a question, as Jews are wont to do) “Do we have a choice? It’s like asking, is the price of being moral too high in this world?”

I’m tempted to suggest that they’ve now decided that it is, but that would be grossly unfair. Dr. Pearl is a serious and highly intelligent man, quite committed to defending truth, humanity, and the Jewish people.

“Whatever happens to us, happens to civilization,” Dr. Pearl said. The post-nationalist, post-religious world that some imagine as Utopia has too often been revealed as an apocalyptic nightmare. Civilization requires a Jewish people living in peace and mutual respect with its neighbors. The Daniel Pearl foundation seems to have downplayed its Jewish connections for the purpose of achieving its higher aims. Maybe they know what they’re doing and it’s a worthwhile trade-off. Maybe it is becoming part of the problem that Dr. Judea Pearl devoted his life to fight. And maybe both of those sentences are true.

Gil Reich builds and markets websites for Managing Greatness. He’s lived in Eli since 1992, and frequently writes about Israeli and US politics, religion and culture.

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