From Rhode Island News
November 7, 2005
01:00 AM EST

 

Pearl’s father says son’s murder claims victory for humanity

 

BY BRUCE LANDIS
Journal Staff Writer

 

PROVIDENCE – The father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl last night said his son’s last words amounted to a triumph of Jewish humanism and a repudiation of the barbarism of his death.

 

Judea Pearl said some of his son’s last words — “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am a Jew” — contained a message on several levels, for his family, for his kidnappers, who killed him in Pakistan, and for the free world.

 

The message to his family, his father said, was one of reassurance despite his desperate situation, essentially, “I’m doing OK.” For his captors, the message was that people are judged by their accomplishments, not by the destruction they cause, and that the kidnappers should “come to your senses.”

 

Daniel Pearl was taken hostage and later killed in Karachi, Pakistan, in February 2002. His words about his heritage were on a videotape that also contained violent footage of his death. But by videotaping Daniel, his father said, “Danny’s murderers miscalculated.” Putting his son before the camera, Pearl said, offered the world “a whole new image of Americans and Jews.”

 

The result, he said, showed his son “with a pen and a fiddle, not with a gun and a helmet, not the image his killers wanted to convey.”

 

Pearl was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. His kidnappers accused him of being a CIA agent and also of working for the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government denied that he was a spy.

 

His son, Pearl said, “lived an extraordinary life, and he died an extraordinary death.”

 

“This is your victory, Danny,” he said. “It is a victory of humanity itself against all of those who try to choke its spirit. It is a victory of every human freedom.” Pearl, a computer scientist, spoke at Temple Beth-El, addressing donors to the annual campaign of the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island. The group’s campaign chairman, Alan Litwin, said the campaign had raised $3.1 million as of Friday, 2 percent more than last year, and that the money would benefit Jewish causes locally and around the world, including aiding poverty-stricken Russian Jews and helping resettle Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

 

Pearl said his son’s message to the free world was that “we can be proud of who we are — we are the town builders” and that although far from perfect, we are “still the world’s largest exporters or hope and freedom.” Pearl said his son’s words conveyed an enormous range of meaning, a reference to his place in the “historic identity” of Jews. “Oh, Danny, Danny, where did you get the strength to demand so stubbornly” that his killers “come to their senses?”

 

He said people have asked whether he and his family want revenge.= “Yes, we do,” he told the audience. “Hatred killed our son, and hatred we should fight for the rest of our lives.”

 

The Pearl family has created the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which carries on numerous activities aimed at building bridges between cultures, including concerts — a recognition of Daniel Pearl’s musical interests — and an internet radio station, “Harmony for Humanity.”

 

Judea Pearl said the foundation has also organized an international news exchange service for high school students, in the hope of encouraging “respect for others, respect for different cultures.” He said he hoped to build “a coalition of the decent” in the interest of “global hate reduction.”