In the wake of the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who reportedly died with the words “I am a Jew” on his lips, several experts on Islamic terrorism and Jewish leaders are warning that Islamic militants have declared a war against Jews.
In issuing what they say is a “wake-up call” to Jews, the experts cautioned that ignoring the warning will mean more innocent people like Pearl, who suspects say was targeted because he was Jewish, will be murdered.
The terrorism watchers say that the worldwide threat to Jews by Islamic fundamentalism is even more lethal than the anti-Semitic Nazi threat 65 years ago, which ultimately led to the mass murder of 6 million Jews throughout Europe.
“It’s much more dangerous because it’s permeating the religious institutions of Islam all over the world,” said Yehudit Barsky, director of the division on Middle East and international terrorism for the American Jewish Committee.
“You could immediately recognize a Nazi. But these guys are wearing robes and suits ands ties and preaching the most inhumane possible things in a combination of religion and racism.”
Barsky, who consults with American intelligence agencies, said the cruel slaying of Pearl — whose parents were Israeli immigrants to America — is a red alert for Jews.
“It must awaken Jews to the fact that Islamic radicalism has now proclaimed very, very publicly that their goal is to kill Jews. All Jews and all Americans are now targets,” he said. “It’s much more public and much more focused then before.”
“War has been declared,” terror expert Daniel Pipes agreed, detailing a growing list of killings by Islamists, followers of a fundamental brand of Islam advocating jihad, or holy war, against the infidels — Jews and Christians.
Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, noted that it was 23 years after the Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran declaring death to America and to Israel — meaning Jews.
“Americans and Jews today are still not awake to this fact, despite the many killings,” he said. “Either people wake up sooner and save lives or wake up later after more lives are lost.”
In America alone, Pipes ticked off two decades of killings and attempted assaults against Jews by “mainstream Muslims mostly connected to the immigrant community.”
They include the November 1990 assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane by El Sayyid Nosair; the March 1994 killing of 16-year-old Ari Halberstam by Palestinian immigrant Rashid Baz, who opened fire on a van of Jewish boys across the Brooklyn Bridge; and the July 1997 Empire State shootings by Ali Hasan Abu Kamal, a 69-year-old Palestinian who shot seven tourists, killing one and severely wounding another. His suicide note accused the U.S. of using Israel as “an instrument” against the Palestinians.
Pipes declined to compare Islamism with Nazism, instead citing historical Christian anti-Semitism.
“The locus of anti-Jewish feeling has moved from the Christian world to the Muslim world,” he said. “Look at the Muslim world and see that it’s absolutely mainstream: the organizations and the scholars, politicians, journalists, religious figures — they are thoroughly anti-Jewish.
“If one looks at France and the 300 anti-Jewish incidents there, every single one is attributed to Muslims. It’s overwhelming.”
Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, says the danger to Jews is the worst since the beginning of the Holocaust.
“The wake-up call is [that] there are very dark clouds of anti-Semitism globally forming around the Jewish people. It has not been this threatening since the ’30s, and in a way it’s even worse because it’s global.”
Foxman said Islamism is more dangerous than Nazism because Muslim extremists believe they are doing God’s work.
“Anti-Semitism fueled by politics is bad enough, but fueled by politics and religion is very dangerous and deadly,” he said.
But Foxman disagreed that the Pearl murder in itself is a wake-up call. He questioned whether Pearl was abducted simply because he was a Jew, as claimed by one of the alleged kidnappers in press reports.
“I do not believe they went out to kidnap him because he was Jewish,” Foxman said. “They set a trap for an American journalist.”
He also questioned reports that Pearl died saying he and his mother were Jews. “It sounds so convoluted,” said Foxman, noting that the captors first accused Pearl of being a CIA spy, but later changed that to being a spy for Israel and the Mossad.
“Once he was in captivity it became evident he was Jewish. What these bastards did was exploit his Jewishness and when they killed him they exploited it. What is chilling about this is they are willing to exploit their anti-Semitism and flaunt it to the world.”
Foxman said it was crucial for the Jewish community to come together and recognize the worldwide crisis, and begin united strategic planning.
“First, you need to have the Jewish community accept this is a significant threat — more than it’s ever been,” he said. “There is still serious debate in the Jewish community that the threat is not anti-Semitism but assimilation.
“I believe the priority is to have consensus within the Jewish community first in the United States, then globally as to the nature of the threat, because the last thing in the world we need is to have other Jews say some Jews are crying wolf, which will undermine efforts to successfully mobilize significant opinion, action and response.”
Meanwhile, other actions were being discussed.
An editorial in the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Achronot called on the Israeli government to hunt down and kill Pearl’s killers.
“Pearl wanted the world to know that he was butchered by his fanatic Muslim captors because he was Jewish, not because he was a journalist and not because he was an American,” the paper said.
Daniel Pearl, born in Princeton N.J., was also an Israeli citizen, as the son of Israeli-born Dr. Yehuda Pearl, one of the world’s leading researchers on artificial intelligence, and his wife Ruth, also a computer specialist.
The parents, with the cooperation of the press, kept the Israeli connection quiet after Pearl was kidnapped Jan. 23 in Karachi by Pakistani Islamic terrorists.
He believed he was going to interview Islamic militant Sheik Mubarik Ali Gilani, whom authorities have linked to Muslim extremists and terrorism in the United States and overseas.
Pearl was trying to determine the connection between terrorist “shoe bomber” Robert Reid, Gilani and al-Qaeda.
Pearl’s slaying was videotaped; his throat was slit and then he was beheaded. His body has not been found and it is unclear exactly when and where he was executed.
Fahad Naseem, one of three men accused of involvement in the kidnapping, said Pearl was abducted because he was a Jew working against Islam, according to his lawyer.
World leaders denounced the killing.
“The murder of Daniel Pearl is a shocking act of barbarism,” said Koichiro Matsuura, director general of the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO. “This gruesome crime is especially repugnant in view of the motives that appear to have driven its perpetrators: the fact that Daniel Pearl was an investigative reporter seeking to shed light on an important story of international concern, the fact he was a U.S. citizen and the fact he was a Jew,” Matsuura said.
UPI religion correspondent Uwe Siemon-Netto wrote in a commentary: “They put him to death because he was an American — and presumably because he was a Jew.
“…That means that whatever blind hatred these particular Muslims, Pearl’s murderers, might have felt for his faith was directed against God’s people — a strange theology for fervent monotheists.
“To say that the hate-filled killers of Daniel Pearl represented no more than a minute minority among the world’s 1 billion Muslims, and a mere aberration of Islam, would be mendacious.”
Spokesmen for Pakistan’s largest Islamic political party condemned the killing as against the teachings of Islam.
“Pearl was innocent, doing his professional work and those responsible must be punished,” Jamaat-i-Islami’s deputy chief Ghafoor Ahmed told Agence France Presse.
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- Abraham Foxman
- Wall Street Journal
- Ari Halberstam
- Eric J. Greenberg
- Daniel Pearl
- Yehudit Barsky
- Sayyid Nosair
- Rashid Baz
- Ali Hasan Abu Kamal
- Ali Gilani
- Daniel Pipes
- Anti-Defamation League
- Islamic Republic of Iran
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