The Unlearned Lessons of Daniel Pearl’s Murder

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


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Then and now, this religiously inspired, rank anti-Semitism is rationalized as a response to Israel’s so-called “occupation” of Muslim lands and oppression of the Palestinians. In 2010, General David Petraeus testified to Congress that the Israeli-Arab conflict “foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel.” Rather than Islamic ideology, Petraeus asserted that “Arab anger over the Palestinian question” accounts for terrorism: “al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.” But Petraeus was simply repeating received wisdom, examples of which are legion, ranging from historian Tony Judt’s claim that European Muslim immigrant anti-Semitic attacks are “a direct outcome of the festering crisis in the Middle East,” to French foreign minister Hubert Védrine’s assertion that immigrant violence and crime arise from “compassion for the Palestinians” on the part of Muslims, who “get agitated when they see what is happening.”

This trope of  “resistance” to unjust “oppression” continues to rationalize brutal murders such as Daniel Pearl’s, leading to what his father, Judah Pearl, called the “normalization of evil.”

Thus those who, like the New York Times, believe that Islamic terrorists have legitimate “grievances” consider terrorist murder and suicide bombing attacks as an unfortunate but understandable tactic given the disproportion of military power between them and their oppressors. As Judah Pearl pointed out in 2009, this mentality was on display in Jimmy Carter’s despicable libel Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid: “It is imperative,” Carter wrote, “that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Road-map for Peace are accepted by Israel.” In Carter’s calculus, terrorism isn’t inherently evil, but rather a legitimate tactic of the weak. This rationalizing of terrorism finds its most repugnant expression in the “cycle of violence” formula, which ignores moral responsibility and blurs the distinction between the violence of terrorism and that used to prevent it. Bill Moyers indulged this evasion on PBS when he elevated the genocidal Hamas to a “resistance” movement and opined that “each [side] greases the cycle of violence, as one man’s terrorism becomes another’s resistance to oppression.” But Carter’s and Moyer’s excusing of terrorist violence has long been codified in the United Nations, where in 1974 Resolutions 3236 and 3237 recognized the terrorist Palestinian Organization as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people; and in the Geneva Convention’s Protocol I, which extended legal combatant status and POW protection to virtually anyone fighting in a conflict, including terrorists.

Ten years after the murder of Daniel Pearl, too many people in government and the media still deny the roots of jihadism in traditional Islamic doctrine, still practice journalism rife with political and ideological bias, still refuse to acknowledge the genocidal anti-Semitism of many Muslims, still indulge a specious moral equivalence that rationalizes terrorist violence as “resistance,” and still look to an international legal community that has repeatedly exposed its ideological corruption. And these unlearned lessons still hamstring our response to jihadist terror.

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  • Amused

    Pearl was murdered because he was a Jew …….PERIOD <. This is what muslins do ,and these savages that murdered Pearl ,made that ever so clear .Killing Jews is embedded in islamic dogma .Islam gives 'religious license " to the killing of Jews .That is what has been and continues to be taught to their children, geeration uon generation .THIS is the REASON for the conflict with Israel in the Middle East .Islam is the cause , and will REMAIN to be the cause.

    • Uzoozy

      Killing Jews (killing any one is not allowed in Islam) has been going on since about 60 years. in open air jails with no food medicines or freedom of movement). On the other hand hunreds of kids are killed by the IDF.
      Where is thje justification.
      Peace has to be achieved as soon as possible.
      Building more settlemenmts / Kibuts wont help.

      • Reuben

        Go back to mecca you filthy pedophile worshiper! Murdering Jews has been going on for a mere 60 years?!? You must think we are incredibly ignorant if you think you can spout such lies and get away with it. The massacring of Jews has been happening since the very beginning that your moon worshiping pedophile false prophet Muhammad(may torment be upon him) proclaimed Jews to be Allah's enemy and should be slaughtered. Jews have been murdered in Israel well before 1967, well before 1948….Take a look and do a bit of research to find out about the vicious Muslims killing Jews left and right in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

        Whatever children that are killed by IDF are dead because the hate filled Muslims use them as shields and deterrents to retaliation for their own attacks. Don't pretend you aren't aware of this.

        Peace will never be achieved as long as you have Muslims who truly believe the Qur'an is a divine revelation. And yes, killing is not only permitted but commanded time after time in the Qur'an and haddiths. You must think we are idiots if you think you can fool us otherwise.

      • Indioviejo

        Uzoozy, try and explain the massacre, torture and beheadings by Mohamed's own hand of the Jews at Banu Qurayza in 627 A.D. Do you think everybody here is ignorant ? Muslims were COMMANDED to kill Jews and infidels by Mo, and it is in your Satanic book. I have read it and hold it against you and your ilk.

        • Uzoozy

          After the Jews and Christains made a treaty with Muslims they broke it.
          They were then given 40 days to allow the pilgrims to go to Mecca, which they did not. As J/C knew that the Muslims were not allowed to kill them.
          Then came a revelation allowing them to fight them in the war, however if they repented and allowed as per the treaty they were to be let go.
          There were 200,000 Muslims killed in Bosia by orthodox christains , first they starved them then the genocide took place, this is 1990 not 1400 yrs old.
          3 million displaced even today.
          Killing of Muslims in middle east is a very frequent occurance by the IDF.
          Koran is an holy book and would appreciate your being respectful.
          Muslims do not talk disrespectfully about aJesus so lay off Mo. You are getting into dangerous territory, next time something bad happens its because of the above blog.
          Meanwhile God bless you.

          • Indioviejo

            The koran is a satanic book. Whatever you appreciate is irrelevant, because if you can't stand the heat…, you know the saying. Your threats are redundant because this is what you people do and we know it. Intimidation is part of your terrorist attempt to silence critics, but it doesn't work with everybody. Just think of the long list of whining about Muslim grievances you just posted, and think about what is going to happen to your people when we do start fighting back. Is going to be glorious. Just remember those four Marine Snipers giving a golden shower to Islamic carcasses and believe more is coming your way.

          • Uzoozy

            You are one sick person.
            I ask God to make you feel better.
            You are a J… no wonder such hatred.

          • Reuben

            Uzoozy,

            You say "You are getting into dangerous territory, next time something bad happens its because of the above blog. "

            This speaks volumes about you and your kind. Typical Muslim reaction….don't like what someone says, just threaten them with violence. The above blog is not responsible for "something bad" happening. If a Muslim reads this blog and reacts violently, the responsibility lies with that very Muslim and his satanic "revelation".

            When will Mohammad worshipers learn that each time they justify their violence by saying that our words provoke it, they only prove that we are correct when we claim that you are barbaric and have no place within a civilized world.

          • Uzoozy

            You said the blasphmy things.
            We pray to the Universal God not to Phrophet Mohammed.
            Muslims are creme de la creme the best in belief.
            I did not threaten you with voilence I am a totally a non-violent person. I was merely stating facts.
            Do not forget Bosia 200,000 killed by Christain Serbs that was indeed an violent ask , thanks for pointing it out again.

      • aspacia

        You believe the liberal lies? Here are a few choice nuggets just from the Palestinians, and I have many more from Muslims in general:
        Jews are the enemy of Allah.

        Islam is fighting a continuous religious war against the Jews.

        The killing of Jews is a religious obligation.

        Palestinians are the vanguard in this war against the Jews, and all Islamic nations are obligated to assist in this war.

        Regarding Israel:

        - All of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (which includes all of Israel) is a religious Waqf — an Islamic religious trust. Any Moslem who relinquishes any part to Israel is damned to Hell.

        - All agreements with Israel are inherently temporary in nature, and are signed only because of Israel's temporary balance of power advantage.

        - Allah will replace Moslems who shirk their obligation to battle Israel.

        - The ultimate destruction of Israel is a certainty.

        The Palestinians repeatedly use Islamic sources to defend this religious hatred, even demanding the killing of Jews as a current obligation and the will of Allah. At least four times in recent months, Palestinian religious leaders have taught publicly that the following Hadith (Islamic traditions attributed to Mohammed) is an authoritative directive of Islam today, expressing Allah's will that obedient Moslems kill Jews. According to Sheikh Muhammed Abd al Hadi La'afi, quoted in the official P.A. newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (May 18, 2001), and Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi, delivering the main Friday sermon on Palestinian TV (April 13, 2001), the Hadith itself states:

        "The Day of Resurrection will not arrive until the Moslems make war against the Jews and kill them, and until a Jew hiding behind a rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: 'Oh Moslem, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!'"

        On Palestinian TV (March 30, 2001) the preacher Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi attacked Arab-Moslem world leaders because they are avoiding attacking Israel with missiles and tanks, and threatened them that Allah is liable to "replace them with other men… that fight for Allah… to liberate the lands from the defilement of the Jews."

        These broadcasts by officially appointed religious leaders, presenting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as an eternal religious conflict, have been preached long before the current violence began. This preaching it is not a reaction to the present violence, and possibly the opposite is true. The PA's religious worldview, that sees agreements with Israel as inherently temporary and war against the Jews as an expression of Allah's will, has in all likelihood fueled the hatred that has lead to Palestinian terror and violence.

        This report presents representative selections from sermons broadcast during recent years:

        * * *

        Eternal Islamic War against the Jews is led by Palestinians; the Jews are enemies of Allah.

        "We the Palestinian nation, our fate from Allah is to be the vanguard in the war against the Jews until the resurrection of the dead, as the prophet Mohammed said: 'The resurrection of the dead will not arrive until you will fight the Jews and kill them…' We the Palestinians are the vanguard in this undertaking and in this campaign, whether or not we want this…" (Palestinian TV, July 28, 2000)

        "Blessed is he who fights jihad in the name of Allah, blessed is he who [goes on] raids in the name of Allah, blessed is he who dons a vest of explosives on himself or on his children and goes in to the depth of the Jews and says: ‘Allahu Akbar, blessed be Allah.' Like the collapse of the building upon the heads of the Jews in their sinful dance-hall, I ask of Allah that we see the Knesset collapsing on the heads of the Jews." (Palestinian TV, June 8, 2001)

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    And what about the riots in 1921 in Jaffa, and in 1929 in Hebron? These occurred when the Jews were a minority in British-occupied Palestine. The Jews weren't(and aren't) oppressing anyone; yet they were murdered by Muslim mobs, while the majority of the British police looked the other way.

    • Uzoozy

      You must have blinders on, Palestintans are killed every single day.
      Its not British police anymore its the IDF

    • Uzoozy

      Come to this world , 60 years of opression is still continuing, Aparthied is the correct word, please be guided accordingly.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

    Wafa Sultan explains the Islamic roots of Jew-hatred in her book "A God Who Hates." This Syrian-born psychiatrist makes clear what Islam does to the minds of Muslims.

    • Uzoozy

      Islam makes the mind pure pious and holy.
      Syrian born or Peking born a lie is an lie wherever it comes from.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Daniel Pearl must never be forgotten, the ruthlessness of his murder and the
    villany of his attackers must remain alive in our minds to keep focus on Islamist
    intent and the perfidity of their existance……………………………….William

    • Uzoozy

      Typical J..

      • Brooke

        Stop hating and grow up.

        • Uzoozy

          I have grown up but the j need to learn to give up and move ahead

          • Indioviejo

            I am not Jewish but I support Israel and condemn Islam. It is a Satanic cult.

      • aspacia

        Uz, you are a typically, ignorant Jew hater with no real facts, only lies.

        • WilliamJamesWard

          Exactly, oozing lies……………………..William

  • BS77

    9/11 NEVER FORGET FDNY your sacrifices will not be forgotten.

  • LindaRivera

    The U.S. response to Islamic terrorism and the Muslim goal of global conquest is total COOPERATION:

    The U.S. is now joined by the EU in seeking to CRIMINALIZE FREE SPEECH and the imposition of global Islamic sharia law.

    http://www.stonegateinstitute.org/2734/criminaliz
    U.S., E.U. Spearhead Islamic Bid To Criminalize Free Speech
    by Soeren Kern
    January 6, 2012

    The European Union has offered to host the next meeting of the so-called Istanbul Process, an aggressive effort by Muslim countries to make it an international crime to criticize Islam.

    The announcement comes less than one month after the United States hosted its own Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC.

    The Istanbul Process – its explicit aim is to enshrine in international law a global ban on all critical scrutiny of Islam and/or Islamic Sharia law – is being spearheaded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 57 Muslim countries.

    …The OIC therefore scored a diplomatic coup when the Obama Administration agreed to host a three-day Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC on December 12-14, 2011. In doing so, the United States gave the OIC the political legitimacy it has been seeking to globalize its initiative to ban criticism of Islam. http://www.stonegateinstitute.org/2734/criminaliz

    • Uzoozy

      If jews have it why not the Muslims.
      The jews even had the pope to remove the phrase Jew killed Jesus.
      What else you want

      • aspacia

        Israel is not threatening genocide against Muslims, whereas Muslims are threatening another genocide.

        Your every post further supports my claim that you are a FOOL!

  • Fred R.

    Indeed the lessons of Daniel Pearl's murder have not been learned. Muslims have been oppressing and murdering Jews since the imperialist army of Umar the Great occupied Palestine (which was predominately Jewish) in 638 A.D. Tens of thousands of Jews were murdered in Muslim pogroms from Muslim Spain to Baghdad. Here in California, teaching this history will soon be forbidden in our public schools.

    Fred R.

    • Uzoozy

      Islam never executed innocents. Spain should be given back to Islam, Ansulasia.

      • Questions

        In the eyes of Islamic law, all who are executed were declared guilty beforehand. There is a self-fulfilling prophecy here. First you execute someone for a "crime," and then rationalize the killing after the fact as morally necessary. After all, the executed person was "really" guilty.

        In the eyes of a body of law holding liberty to be the cardinal virtue — like ours — Islamic law is little more than a sadistic criminal racket operating with a thick, pretentious veneer of profundity.

        • Uzoozy

          You are so misguided is unbelieveable.
          Sharia law is the best law, and should be followed all around the world.
          Thomas Jefferson ()ex president of America) he used to read the Koran and wrote the constitution , thats why its great.
          Muslims live by the law, God bless them.
          Yu have no idea because your mind is so corrupted.

      • Atikva

        Keep dreaming!

      • aspacia

        All nonMuslims are kaffir, and not innocent, hence all may be murdered.

        According to your logic, all the USA should be given back to Native Americans? All the UK given back to the Saxons and those of French descent expelled.

        Again, your are an ignorant fool.

  • mrbean

    Muslims have chosen the rules of the game. Jews should let them know in no uncertain terms what "Never Again" means. The Muslim jihadists are motivated by the core principles of Islam with the goal of converting, killing, or subjugating all non-Muslims. Unfortunately, too many non-Muslims have reverted to a pre-9/11 mentality and do not see the necessity of an offensive war with the Jihadists, or of a defensive war at home. All of us as non-Muslims are going to have to decide to fight for our cultures, freedoms, and values or we are going to lose them. It is our killer instincts which must be harnessed if we expect to survive in a war with the Jihadists. Our weapons are only tools. It is a hard heart that kills. If our killer instincts are not clean and strong we will hesitate at the moment of truth. We will not kill. We will become dead Americans and dead Jews. And then we all will be in a world of trouble. Why? Because there are a billion Muslims and on a few million of us who will actually fight! Do you understand?

  • Moishe Pupick

    Tu., 01/24/12 common era

    The Establishment Jewish groups in the U.S. lack the courage to stand up and publicly
    call for federal criminal prosecutions of the U.S.-based jihadis who either directly or indirectly facilitated the brutal murder of Daniel Pearl.

    Where were the outraged voices of Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton when Pearl was beheaded on video? Shame on them all.

    • aspacia

      Most bureaucrats have no shame.

  • Billiam

    The old saying still holds. Take away the weapons from the Jordanian arabs(so-called palestinians) and tomorrow you will have peace. Take away all the weapons from Israel, and tomorrow there will be no Israel. Jimmy Carter is a disgrace and an enabler of the followers of that murderous "faith". Islam will never make peace with the Jews. They've never shown the least amount of honest willingness to have peace. The Egyptian known as Arafat wanted nothing but blood, and Abbas and the Hamas murderers are no better.

  • Atikva

    I believe the islamo-socialists have become unable to face reality. As Yuri Bezmenov said, after the brainwashing they have succumbed to, “exposure to true information doesn’t matter any more for them, they are unable to assess true information”.

    Example: several blogs have posted a video of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who, a couple of weeks ago, called for the killing of Jews on the “Palestinian” radio during a Hamas meeting, citing a few lines of the coran as a reference.

    In answer to the Israeli government’s investigation about this incitement to commit mass murder, the mufti replied that he was innocent as the words were not his but the very words of the coran which couldn’t be changed. There can't be a more blatant admission of the coran as a source of anti-Semitic violence, and it comes right from the horse's mouth.

    Yet today again, one of these defenders of islam claimed that it never happened, that it was propaganda, that islam was being smeared, etc.. The mufti in action, his recorded words, the audience’s applause, his official answer to the Israeli investigation, all these facts mean nothing to this guy.

    If this is not brainwashing, then what is it?