Dr. Judea Pearl's Remarks, AJWS Annual Benefit for Global Justice, June 7, 2004


Dr. Judea Pearl's Remarks, AJWS Annual Benefit for Global Justice, June 7, 2004

By Dr. Judea Pearl

Two years and four months ago, in a desolated dungeon in Karachi, Pakistan, there was a young man who looked straight into the eyes of evil and proclaimed his identity. "I'm a Jewish American; my father is Jewish; my mother is Jewish and I am Jewish."

The young man was my son, Daniel. The walking sunshine of friendship and humanity. An emissary of goodwill. His murderers planned to sow fear and humiliation among his peers. But strangely, they made a blunder, and the outcome worked against them. Daniel's stories, the goodness of his mind, and the sound of his last words became iconic personal reminders to millions of people around the world that the current wave of terrorism and hatred is, again, not aimed at one tribe or one country or one institute, but at the very fabric of human society.

Moreover, what emerged from Daniel's tragedy, and was vividly displayed on the screens of world consciousness, was the refreshing new image of America and Jewishness. An America that is friendly. An America that extends its hand to the less fortunate parts of the world. An America that listens. An America that gives without asking in return. And a Jew. A Jew who builds bridges between East and West. Armed with a pen and paper, and not with a rifle and helmet as shown on Al-Jazeera. So the world has almost forgotten the true face of America and of Jewishness, and, ironically, it was left for those murderers to unveil who we are and what we stand for.

What Daniel's killers did not realize is that they are dealing with an ancient tribe of alchemists that have learned to transmute tragedy into life affirming substance. The gathering here tonight is an example of such a transmutation. When synagogues are burned in France and Europe in general, and suicide bombs go off in Israel, American Jewish World Service proves defiantly that Jews have not abandoned their responsibility to the world: that hospitals will continue to be built in Africa, and that new schools will continue to open in Afghanistan.

Is it magic? No. It's plain ancient alchemy. It's the same ancient alchemy that I saw when I spoke last month at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. From its walls and windows I saw 6 million pairs of eyes, begging us to hope, and remember, and telling us "ani ma'anim -- I believe." I believe in the capacity of mankind to eject the cancer of evil which perennially invades the tissues of civilization.

It was these two voices, remembrance and belief, which compelled me and my family to create the Daniel Pearl Foundation. And to take upon ourselves the task of channeling all the energy and goodwill that Daniel possessed, into one, and only one aim, and that is to fight the hatred that took his life.

Of course we do not have resources to move armies or to build museums, but we have energy and goodwill of millions of people: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Israelis and Palestinians, musicians and journalists, who are committed to take a stand against hatred and intolerance. And we have the energy and talents of thousands of Jewish youngsters, who relate, some for the first time, to Daniel's last words: "He's Jewish; I'm Jewish." What does that mean? It means my dear children that you too see beauty in this stubborn tribe of alchemists, who build museums of their tragic past in order to shape responsibility for your future.

And it means that you too, will soon join that tribe of alchemists. Stubbornly bearing witness to the dignity of being different. Forever carving new paths for the progress of mankind. Forever struggling for its freedoms. Forever daring the impossible.

For more information, please visit the Daniel Pearl Foundation, or learn about I am Jewish - Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl