On this solemn day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust, I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight the memory of my grandparents, who perished in Auschwitz in 1942, and that of my son, Daniel Pearl, who was murdered 60 years later, in Karachi, Pakistan.

Situated thousands of miles apart, and executed under totallydifferent circumstances, by people of a different faith, language, and purpose, the two murders nevertheless illuminate each other as well as the topic under discussion.

Four years ago, almost to the day, in a desolate dungeon in Karachi, Pakistan, my son Danny was looking in the eye of evil, and proclaiming his identity.

Forced to appear before his captor's video camera, he said with pride:

"My name is Daniel Pearl,"

"I am a Jewish American from Encino, California."...

"My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish."

I doubt whether my grandparents were ever asked to state their Jewishness--the Nazis did not need such confirmation. Yet Danny, I am sure, had a special message to convey in those words.

The meaning of my murdered son's last words
Read more on page 2 >>

_Related Features

I know that when Danny said "I am Jewish," what he was trying to tell his captors was: "I respect Islam precisely because I am Jewish, and I expect you to respect me and my faith precisely because you are, or claim to be good Muslims."

"In other words, I come from a place where one's heritage is the source of one's strength, and strength is measured by one's capacity to accommodate diversity, because it is only through diversity that 'we recognize our common humanity."

"I am Jewish" was his way of saying: "I understand suffering, because the suffering of my ancestors is etched on my consciousness,and I understand Muslims' suffering as well, for I have seen your people in Kosovo, I have worked with your carpet weavers in Iran, and I have sung with your pearl divers in Qatar."

Indeed, he was a journalist who gave voice to millions of voiceless Muslims, from Iran to Yemen, from Sudan to Pakistan, and gave Western readers a glimpse of the human faces behind the news.

He walked, laughed, and cried with those he met--at home in the world.

So I believe that when Danny uttered his final words, "I am Jewish," he was telling the world: "I am reminding you of the challenge of understanding others."

"I am Jewish" means I proclaim my right to be who I am and I remind you, as did my ancestors for three millennia, of the shining dignity of being different.

"I am Jewish" means I am the litmus test of your faith and the fire test of your strength. Let's come to our senses!

Inspiration from the darkest dungeon
Read more on page 3 >>

_Related Features