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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Daniel Pearl’s dad wages war on hatred



By Ed Stannard
Register Metro Editor
FAIRFIELD
— Daniel Pearl’s father is out for revenge.
Judea Pearl, near right, whose son, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was beheaded by Muslim extremists in January 2002, told students and faculty at Sacred Heart University on Monday that he seeks revenge against hatred.
“Hatred killed my son and hatred I shall fight for the rest of my life,” he said. His vision, he said, is of Muslim children “pointing to Danny’s picture one day and saying, ‘This is the kind of person I want to be’…This is our vision of revenge.”
Pearl, a professor of computer science at UCLA since 1969, whose work has focused on artificial intelligence, started the Daniel Pearl Foundation to promote peace and understanding between cultures.
Just before he was killed, Daniel Pearl, whom his father called “a walking sunshine of truth, music, humor and humanity,” faced a video camera and said “I am Jewish.”
“When he said, ‘I’m Jewish,’ what Danny told his captors was, ‘I respect Islam because I am Jewish.’ …. I come from a place where one’s heritage is a source of one’s strength…It is only through diversity that we recognize our common humanity.”
While Judea Pearl engages in dialogue as a Jew with a Muslim professor, he is not a believer himself, he told the audience at Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic school.
(cut if needed) He said he sees God’s presence not in individuals but in community. “Who is God?” Pearl asked. “Our ideals and values and principles. And what does it mean ‘Sacrifice your son to God’? It means educate your children to principles and ideas.” Pearl said there are “three prongs” to the work of his foundation: journalism, music and dialogue.
The foundation sponsors Muslim journalists to work at major U.S. newspapers on fellowships “so that they will observe the dynamics of free press, and if you believe in the notion that if you invest in one journalist you invest in 100,000 or more readers.”
He also wants “to seduce high school students to take a career in journalism…to collaboratively write high school newspapers with people in Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Today you can do it on the Internet.”
The foundation sponsored 540 concerts in 42 countries last year, “using the universal power of music to bridge across culture.”
“We are not silent and we are not alone and we have partners in Pakistan, in Iran, in Yemen who are… singing with us for the same cause,” Pearl said.
He did take the opportunity to call on celebrities to devote as much time to peace-making as to other causes. “Bill Gates is competing with Bono and they’re competing with Madonna on fighting AIDS in Africa. … Show me one celebrity that is devoted to fighting this tsunami (of hatred) and it has been growing like an epidemic. And believe me, that wave of hatred is going to explode much before global warming.” The third prong of Pearl’s work is dialogue. In his appearances with a Muslim scholar, “We express our grievances and try to reach common ground. No issue is taboo” but they are conducted with mutual respect, he said.
Neither Muslims nor Jews truly understand each other, he said. Almost all Muslims see Israel as “an outpost of European imperialism” instead of a Jewish homeland, while “Many Jews do not know about the humiliation that Arabs suffered in the defeat of the war in 1948.”
Pearl ended by imploring students to continue his son’s work of understanding in the world.
“Do not let the screams of Al-Jazeera and the streets of Riyadh define your identity…No, you are Daniel Pearl’s kin. Like him you will be traveling the world with a pen and a fiddle. … You will enrich their lives with your humor and your music and your insights.”
Daniel Pearl was 38 and working as the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal wheand had been investigating Richard Reid, the shoe bomber,n he was captured.
Judea Pearl will discuss “Confronting the Ideology of Terror” at 4 p.m. today at Yale University’s Branford College common room, 74 High St. The talk is free and open to the public.
Ed Stannard can be reached at estannard@nhregister.com or 789-5743.

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