Saturday, January 14, 2012

Significant Moments: Daniel Pearl -- October 10, 1963 to February 1, 2002

Daniel Pearl (October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002) was an American journalist.

At the time of his kidnapping, Pearl served as the South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, and was based in Mumbai, India. He went to Pakistan as part of an investigation into the alleged links between Richard Reid (the "shoe bomber") and Al-Qaeda. He was subsequently beheaded by his captors.

My contribution to the memory of Daniel Pearl is the following passage from my book Significant Moments:

He himself preserved his life and sanity by deliberately and persistently clinging to the historical Jewish identity of invincible spiritual and intellectual superiority over a physically superior outer world: he made his tormentors the subject of a silent research project which he safely delivered to the world of free letters.
Erik H. Erikson, Identity and the Life Cycle.
It was that deliberate recovery of such a specific and proud . . .
Robert D. Kaplan, The Books of Daniel: Two views of the life and death of the American journalist Daniel Pearl.
        . . . identity . . .
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
               . . . that kept his tormentors from reducing him to a mere symbol.
Robert D. Kaplan, The Books of Daniel: Two views of the life and death of the American journalist Daniel Pearl.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Daniel Pearl's parents edited and published a collection of responses sent to them from around the globe, entitled I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004).

At one point on the video, Pearl said: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish," after which Pearl added one obscure detail, that a street in Israel's Bnei Brak is named after his great grandfather, who was one of the founders of the town.

The family has written that it understands this last detail authenticates Daniel's own voice and demonstrates his willingness to claim his identity. Judea Pearl has written that at first this statement surprised him, but he later understood it to be a reference to the town-building tradition of his family contrasted with the destructive aims of his captors. Judea Pearl then enlarged the idea by inviting responses from artists, government leaders, authors, journalists, scientists, scholars, rabbis, and others. All wrote personal responses to what they thought upon hearing that these were Pearl's last words. Some responses are one sentence, others several pages.

The book is organized by five themes: Identity; Heritage; Covenant, Chosenness, and Faith; Humanity and Ethnicity; Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) and Justice. Contributors include Theodore Bikel, Alan Dershowitz, Kirk Douglas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Larry King, Amos Oz, Shimon Peres, Daniel Schorr, Elie Wiesel, Peter Yarrow, and A.B. Yehoshua.