(JNS) The death of Ruth Pearl at the age of 85 reminds us once again of the unspeakable horror that was visited upon Ruth and her family, and which served as a particularly dreadful wake-up call for the Western world.
In January 2002 her son, the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda and beheaded nine days later.
Ruth, an electrical engineer, and her husband Judea, a professor of computer science and statistics, formed the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which brings together people from different cultures through musical events, lectures, journalism fellowships and other activities.
Ruth’s immediate family members, who survived the 1941 “Farhud” pogrom in Baghdad in which 180 Jews were killed and hundreds more injured, were part of the subsequent mass exodus of Jews to Israel in 1951.
Shortly afterwards, Ruth’s brother died fighting in the Israel Defense Forces.
Such a family background in the Jewish experience of persecution and self-defense meant that when Daniel Pearl said into Al-Qaeda’s video camera just before he was slaughtered, “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish,” this had a resonance which would have escaped his murderer.
That vile individual, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, told the FBI he believed that killing a Jew would make for powerful propaganda and incite his fellow jihadis.
For Al-Qaeda wasn’t just a terror organization springing from the arcane geopolitics of the Middle East. Its agenda was driven by hatred of Jews.
Jew-hatred is indeed central to the jihadis’ aim of conquering the west for Islam.
As is made explicit in the Hamas charter, Islamists believe that from the French Revolution onward everything to do with the modernity they are pledged to destroy has been created by Jews. They believe that the Jews are behind everything that Muslims deem to be bad, and that the perfection of the world will only occur when the Jews are eradicated from the face of the earth.
This psychotic belief drove Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj-Amin al Husseini, in the 1930s. Today, it drives the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, the Iranian regime and other jihadi organizations. Such Islamists believe that the Jews control the West; so to attack the West, they must attack the Jews. But the West has never understood the centrality of Jew-hatred in the jihadi mind.
That’s why the West gets the Middle East conflict precisely backwards. It believes that if Muslims hate the Jews, it’s because they hate Israel; whereas in reality, Muslims hate Israel because they hate the Jews.
The West gets the Middle East conflict precisely backwards. It believes that if Muslims hate the Jews, it’s because they hate Israel; whereas in reality, Muslims hate Israel because they hate the Jews.
After the lynching in 2000 of two Israeli soldiers who had taken a wrong turn in Ramallah, Sheikh Ahmad abu Halabaya said on TV from Gaza City: “It is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land. Make war on them any place that you find yourself. Any place that you meet them, kill them.”
As an Egyptian cleric, Mohammed Hussein Yaqoup said on TV in 2009: “If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. … They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing … we will fight, defeat and annihilate them until not a single Jew remains on the face of the earth.”
Failing to grasp this, Westerners don’t understand the nature and extent of the threat to their own security. That’s because it doesn’t fit the liberal narrative—that Muslims are the victims of Western colonialist oppression, and that therefore their violence is a kind of justified resistance, at least in its aims if not its methods.
This blindness afflicts the Biden administration. Not only does it believe it can negotiate with the genocidal Jew-haters of Iran. It has also decided to free from jail Abdul Latif Nasir, the Al-Qaeda commander who helped the Taliban blow up the statues of Buddha in Afghanistan in 2001.
Nasir, who will be sent back to Morocco where the political system is controlled by Islamists, isn’t just a lethally dangerous terrorist explosives instructor. As Daniel Greenfield reports, he has expressed a preference for killing Jews and has singled out for praise atrocities in which Jews were the intended targets.
But it’s not just the Islamists targeting of the Jews that the West ignores. For many years, there has been a murderous jihadi onslaught on Christians in Africa, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the developing world.
According to a Genocide Watch report last year, 11,500 Christians have been murdered in Nigeria since June 2015. Thousands more have been maimed, kidnapped, or had their homes and livelihoods destroyed.
As reported by the Barnabas Fund, which campaigns for persecuted Christians around the world, Fulani Muslims in Nigeria murdered 28 Christians earlier this month in the Christian-majority area of southern Kaduna state, while around 120 students were kidnapped from a Christian school there.
Yet this sustained and savage onslaught upon Christians has received virtually no media coverage in the West at all. That’s because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the “colonialist” Christian West persecuting the Muslim world.
A similar myopia is displayed over Islamist attacks on Christians in the West itself. Last weekend, a Christian preacher, Hatun Tash, was attacked at Speakers’ Corner in the capital’s Hyde Park. This is a place where anyone can get up on a soapbox to orate and is therefore an iconic symbol of Britain’s historic devotion to freedom of speech.
Hatun, a Muslim convert to Christianity and director of the group Defend Christ Critique Islam, was slashed in the face by an attacker who fled. Her assailant is assumed to be an Islamist since Hatun has repeatedly been the victim of such attacks at Speakers’ Corner.
In September 2020, footage emerged of an Islamic mob surrounding her and issuing death threats. In other incidents, she has been slapped, punched and knocked to the ground by Muslim men.
Yet the British media have reported last weekend’s knife attack on her in a low-key way, with few details other than to note that she was wearing a Charlie Hebdo T-shirt.
This detail is telling. When Islamists broke into the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and murdered 12 of its staff, many in the West in effect blamed the staff for their own murder. That was because the magazine had published cartoons making fun of Islam’s founder, Mohammed. And many Western liberals endorse Muslim insistence that material offensive to their religion shouldn’t be published.
Such liberals also deploy the weapon of “Islamophobia,” the thought-crime devised by the jihadists of the Muslim Brotherhood as a means of suppressing any criticism of the Muslim world however well-founded it may be.
So Hatun Tash was guilty in the liberal mind of being an “oppressive” Christian who speaks out against Islam.
Thus jihadi attempts to wipe out Christianity around the world are ignored, Muslim attacks on Jews are airbrushed out, and even reformist Muslims find themselves smeared as “Islamophobes” if they criticize their co-religionists. Because none of this fits the “narrative.”
And so those who control this “narrative” in the West refuse to understand the nature and agenda of the people who are coming for them, too.
A growing number of Muslims, however, are horrified by such excesses and want merely to live in peace and security. When Britain’s former chief rabbi, the late Lord Sacks, asked Judea Pearl why he was working for reconciliation between Jews and Muslims, he replied: “Hate killed my son. Therefore I am determined to fight hate.”
May the memory of Ruth Pearl, her murdered son and her slain brother all be for a blessing.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.” Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.