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The Tragedy of Daniel Pearl
Last uploaded : Thursday 21st Feb 2002 at 17:11
Contributed by : Carol Gould




Sadly, it has been reported tonight that the US State Department and Embassy in Pakistan have announced that Daniel Pearl is dead. Jewish wishes to express its sorrow at this event and sends its sympathies to his family and colleagues.

Earlier today, news reports were emerging from Pakistan that his captors had indeed singled him out because he was 'a Jewish enemy of Islam.' (See our article below, written last week.)

According to the latest reports, a videotape was sent to US authorities in Pakistan showing Daniel's murder, a graphic record of the atrocity, in which his throat was cut. According to Ha'aretz newspaper, Daniel, like many Americans, held dual Israeli-US citizenship. A British-born extremist apparently ordered his killing.

At the time of this writing (February 15)it is unclear whether the Pakistani captors of Wall Street Journal Bombay bureau chief Daniel Pearl have carried out their threat to kill him if their demands are not met. They have alleged he is a spy for the Mossad, hence their threat to execute him, whereas previously he was just a journalist held hostage.

You don’t have to go to the Third World to be threatened with death if it is suspected you are Jewish. Readers of these pages will already know about Jewish Comment’s Editor’s experiences making a documentary in central London.

Let us elaborate: the Editor had spent a year filming a year in the life of the churches and synagogue of the parish of Marylebone. When it came time to arrange dates for filming at the imposing London Central Mosque, it was impossible to get anyone at the Islamic Cultural Centre to provide the film company with the courtesy of a written or telephoned reply. Finally, the company asked its cameraman, who just happened to be Libyan and a regular worshipper at the Central Mosque, to try to pull some strings.

Eventually he did, but his stern warning to the Producer (our Editor) was almost too absurd to be believed. He said that if a person was suspected of ‘being from the Jewish’ he or she would be ‘killed’ upon entering the grounds of the London Mosque on a Friday. The cameraman explained that ‘the crazies’ come on a Friday and that the presence of a non-Muslim would cause a violent act to occur, possibly resulting in murder.

This was, lest we forget, 1998. Israel was reasonably quiet and the peace process was chugging along, far from any inklings of a new Intifadah.

At least our editor could stay away in the safety of hearth and home in Marylebone. Poor Daniel Pearl is in a perilous situation as a Jew and as an American. He knew the dangers he faced but went ahead with his sojourn into Pakistan to interview a Muslim cleric. Like Robert Fisk of ‘The Independent,’ he found himself amid a maelstrom of fury and hatred of the West . Fisk, a fair-skinned Anglo-Saxon Briton known in the Muslim world for his passionately pro-Palestinian leanings, was nevertheless badly beaten up by a mob in Pakistan in December, and barely escaped with his life. Though someone who has not exactly attracted much affection from world Jewry either, one sympathises with the fact that Fisk’s experience was no doubt a terrifying one that left him badly shaken and traumatised.

After much hoopla and bluster over the State of the Union, it is hoped President Bush and Enron-besieged Vice President Cheney will spare a moment to appreciate the appalling situation Daniel Pearl is in, and make every effort to extricate him from the imminent jaws of death.

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