New accounts of the videotape depicting the grisly murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl indicate that Pearl was targeted specifically because he was Jewish.
Pearl's murderers, part of the fundamentalist Islamic group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, are reputed to have remarked that Pearl's death would send a message to America and to Israel.
According to reports in the New York Times, Pearl identified himself on the videotape of his execution as a Jew and read "a seemingly coerced statement," declaring "We, as Americans cannot continue to bear the consequences of our government's actions, such as the unconditional support of the state of Israel."
Given the virulent strains of anti-Semitism that flourish throughout Pakistan, both statements seem calculated to imply that Pearl was an Israeli spy, thus creating a climate of public acceptance for his murder within Pakistan. As Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League observed, "Sympathizers of the terrorists continue to use Israel as an excuse for their unprecedented attacks against the United States and, indeed, many voices in the Muslim and Arab world continue to support the absurd notion that Israel had a direct role in the Sept. 11 attacks." In a land where less than 1 percent of the population is Jewish, such hateful and arbitrary Jewish stereotypes are taken for granted.
Pearl's captors have indicated that the murder was enacted to
protest Pakistan's engagement with America in the war on terrorism. Presumably, they hoped to undermine the credibility of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who recently vowed to restrain the extremist element within his country. By goading the United States, demonizing Israel and inflaming religious tensions at home, Pearl's captors probably hoped to fray Musharraf's already precarious rule.
At the center of it all, they had to have a Jew. In a land where the population is 98 percent Muslim and 2 percent Christian, Jews exists not as people, but as objects - a symbolic scourge throughout time and for all time. Only the murder of a Jew would create more - not less - pubic acceptance for Jaish-e-Mohammad's extremist cause.
This Anti-Jewish vitriol is widespread. Crowds line the streets, in equal breaths cheering bin Laden and denouncing Israel and the United States. This rhetoric feeds off itself, then replicates like a disease.
It was no accident that Daniel Pearl - by all accounts a hugely endearing man - was abducted. Anti-Semitism dragged a knife across his neck and orphaned his unborn child. It was the same strain of brutal and arbitrary hate that detonated over America on Sept. 11, and continues to fuel our enemies in their anti-human agendas.