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January 23, 2012 6:15 pm

Daniel Pearl’s Murder, 10 Years Later

avatar by Srolic Barber

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Musicians at a 2011 concert in memory of American journalist Daniel Pearl. Photo: wiki commons.

“My name is Daniel Pearl. My father’s Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.”

Following his kidnapping in 2002, in a video release recorded by his abductors, Jewish American Journalist Daniel Pearl spoke these chilling words.

He was soon decapitated in the heart of Pakistan.

Pearl, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, was investigating the alleged links between Richard Reid, the infamous ‘shoe-bomber’, and Al Qaeda. Believing he was to meet with Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani in a downtown restaurant in Karachi, Pearl was abducted by The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. They immediately sent their ultimatum to the American government, calling for the release of all Pakistani prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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Nine days later he was beheaded.

Today, Monday the 23rd of January marks ten years since his kidnapping. Although with time his story falls deeper into the past, nonetheless, it remains forever relevant — the past ten years bear testimony to his legacy, the legacy of one man’s last words.

Two years after his death, Pearl’s parents collated letters of support and empathy, finally publishing I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004) in which authors, artists, politicians, Rabbis, and others, responded to the tragedy with words of hope, courage, and inspiration.

In 2009, in accordance with a request from Pearl’s parents, Chabad centers and synagogues around the world dedicated a traditional round of dancing during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah in tribute to the slain journalist. In a statement, Dr. Judea Pearl expressed the privilege and excitement “to know that thousands of miles apart, from Thailand to Russia to Los Angeles, there will be Jewish youngsters remembering our son Daniel.”

One of the most poignant and inspiring stories occurred when Ruth and Judea Pearl were invited in 2007 by then President, George W. Bush, to light the Menorah for the Jewish holiday of Chanuka. The Menorah was the same that Daniel Pearl’s great grandparents brought with them to Israel in 1924.

In lighting the festive candles, the timeless tale of light over darkness remembered Daniel Pearl as well, bringing his message to Jews all over the world; his last words of Shema Yisrael: Hear O Israel. G-d is our G-d. G-d is One.

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