No Rest for the Daniel Pearl Foundation

The Daniel Pearl Foundation continues to memorialize journalist beheaded by Al-Qaeda, encouraging a safer world via music, journalism and dialogue.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 13:19

Daniel Pearl
Daniel Pearl
Israel news photo:

The Daniel Pearl Foundation continues to memorialize a journalist beheaded by Muslim terrorists – Daniel Pearl of The Wall Street Journal - by encouraging a safer world via music, journalism and dialogue.

Pearl was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002 while reporting on links between “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and Al-Qaeda, and was murdered by decapitation. A video of his decapitation was circulated by the murderers, in which Daniel emphasized his Jewish identity: "On my father's side the family is Zionist. My father's Jewish, my mother's Jewish, I'm Jewish. My family follows Judaism. We've made numerous family visits to Israel. Back in the [Israeli] town of Bnei Brak there is a street named after my great grandfather Chaim Pearl who is one of the founders of the town." 

He also recited the Shma Yisrael prayer – traditionally recited by Jews on their deathbed – just before his head was severed. His family wrote afterwards that his inclusion of his familial connection to Bnei Brak demonstrated his willingness to claim his Jewish identity.

Pearl’s parents, Judea and Ruth, later established the Daniel Pearl Foundation to “further the ideals that inspired Daniel's life and work,” using the spirit, style, principles and interests that shaped Pearl's work and character. The foundation's mission is to address what the founders consider the root causes of his death, and to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music, and innovative communications. To this end, the foundation holds various events and grants awards for journalistic courage and integrity.

Obama Speaks of Daniel's "Death"
Its most prominent milestone was the signing of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act by U.S. President Barack Obama last month. The law requires the State Department to include, in its annual human rights reports on countries, a description of freedom of the press in each nation and identification of countries where there were violations of press freedom. Obama drew special attention to himself at the time by referring to “Daniel's death” without mentioning how this “death” came about and by whom.

Later this month, Anne Garrels will be the 2010 recipient of the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism to recognize her selflessness in reporting difficult and often dangerous stories for decades around the world. Two months ago, Daniel Pearl Awards were given to The Nation's Aram Roston for "How the U.S. Funds the Taliban," recounting how Pentagon military contractors in Afghanistan routinely pay millions of dollars in protection money to the Taliban to move supplies to U.S. troops, and to a Norwegian-BBC journalistic team for a story on how a powerful offshore oil trader tried to cover up the poisoning of 30,000 West Africans.

The Foundation, now for its ninth year, promotes a month-long global network of concerts each October, known as the Daniel Pearl World Music Days. The goal is to promote peace and cross cultural understanding through the universal language of music. Last October, musicians took part in 1,558 events in 79 countries, “empowering audiences with a sense of unity and purpose under the common banner of ‘Harmony for Humanity.’"

Other Foundation activities include bringing journalists from South Asia and the Middle East to work for six months in  major U.S. newsrooms, including a week at The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles; backing the Wall Street Journal’s annual Daniel Pearl Prize to journalistic students; an annual memorial lecture at UCLA; and public lectures by Judea Pearl.