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Friday, February 21, 2003

Today's Wall Street Journal contains an article by Daniel Pearl's father. The following section is right on target:

Reactions to Danny's death varied from community to community. In Pakistan, many have condemned the murder as a barbaric act carried out by a minority of fanatics at the fringe of society, while some find absolution in assuming that Danny was a spy. Sadly, anti-Semitism and sympathies with the perpetrators, as revealed in the trial of Omar Sheikh, seem to be more widespread than openly admitted. The trial itself is at a puzzling standstill, with no date set for appeal decision. In Saudi Arabia, the murder video has been used to arouse and recruit new members to terrorist organizations.

In Europe, Danny's murder has been condemned as an attack against journalism, while the anti-American, anti-Jewish sentiments were played down considerably. This is understandable, considering the anti-American and anti-Western sentiment echoed in editorials in some respectable European newspapers.

In contrast, Danny's captors concentrated on his Jewish and Israeli heritage. Evidently the murderers were confident that Danny's Jewish connections were sufficient to license the gruesome murder they were about to commit. Such a brazen call to condone the killing of human beings by virtue of his religion or heritage is strongly reminiscent of the horrors perpetrated by Nazi Germany.

In a world governed by reason and leadership, one would expect world leaders to immediately denounce such racist calls before they become an epidemic. However, U.S. President George W. Bush was the only world leader to acknowledge the connection between Danny's murder and the rise of anti-Semitism: "We reject the ancient evil of anti-Semitism whether it is practiced by the killers of Daniel Pearl or by those who burn synagogues in France." No European head of state rose to John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a Berliner") with the morally equivalent statement, "Today, I am a Jew."

Not surprisingly, our misguided world has seen an alarming rise of anti-Semitic activity in the past year. Tens of millions of Muslims have become unshakably convinced that Jews were responsible for the Sept. 11 attack. Egypt's state-controlled television aired a 30-part program based on the notorious anti-Semitic book "The Elders of Zion," and Egyptians were fed another fantasy, that Jews are plotting to take over the world. Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas released the eighth edition of his book, "The Matzah of Zion," in which he accuses Jews of using the blood of Christians to bake Matzah for Passover. And on the sideline, while these flames of hatred were consuming sizable chunks of the world's population, traditionally vocal champions of anti-racism remained silent.

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