Unshaken faith in the face of death

Click to read nominations from:
Elie Wiesel | Alan Dershowitz | Paul Steiger

"My father is a Jew, my mother is a Jew, and I am a Jew."

Those were the last words Daniel Pearl spoke, just before his throat was fatally slashed. Pearl was the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan, earlier this year. At least one of his captors has admitted that they were specifically looking for a Jewish victim.

Pearl was in Pakistan to cover the war on terrorism after 9/11. Retracing the trail of "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid, he was kidnapped on January 23 by terrorists pretending to be news sources. Weeks went by before his death was confirmed; a horrifying videotape documented the grisly details of Pearl's murder.

Though we'll never know whether he would have been murdered even without that declaration of his Jewish origin, his split-second decision to affirm who he was served as an inspiration to Jews and people of all faiths. Pearl's father, Judea Pearl, wrote in The New York Times, "Daniel Pearl was not a military hero or political leader, yet millions of people worldwide have identified with his life, mission and legacy... Danny's spirit has not been defeated. In the last days of his captivity, he remained proud of his heritage and unshaken in his convictions, a man who lived by truth and compassion. Our children will be inspired by Danny's life, not his death."

In memory of Pearl, family and friends created the Daniel Pearl Foundation to carry on the memory of his life and work, using music and words to help people better understand one another.

Nomination by Elie Wiesel
"I strongly endorse the nomination of Daniel Pearl for the Most Inspiring Person Award for 2002. The uniqueness of Daniel as a source of inspiration stems from the diversity and breadth of his influence, which extends to the millions of people across the East-West divide. People in the West admire him for embodying the ideals of freedom of inquiry, friendship, and open-mindedness, as well as for shattering the "Ugly Western" image that various extremist groups have been laboring to paint. People in the East admire him for being an objective and fair reporter, respectful of all cultures. Finally, Daniel's untimely death, as a Jew, has ignited a wildfire of effort to spread his message of understanding, hope, and reconciliation."
--Author Elie Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his work in promoting human rights.

Nomination by Alan Dershowitz
"Danny Pearl's brutal murder makes it clear what the world is up against. Danny was killed because he was a Jew who would not hide his background and because he was a journalist who insisted on telling the truth. He was a risk-taker who was prepared to expose himself to danger in order to get at the bottom of some dangerous connections in the world of terrorism. He died as a martyr to his professionalism and as an inspiration to all who are committed to seeking the truth regardless of the risks."
--Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University.

Nomination by Paul Steiger
"Daniel's life and work inspire people of all denominations to reflect on the consequences of hatred and bigotry, and to stand up for tolerance and understanding everywhere."
--Paul E. Steiger is Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal.

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