Blood libel and other modern realities

Posted: Mar 22, 2002 12:00 AM
Mariane Pearl has been making the rounds of talk shows. There was something odd about her interview with PBS's Jim Lehrer. He asked why she believed her husband, Daniel Pearl, had been singled out for kidnapping and murder by Muslim terrorists. She said: "My feeling is that the killing of Danny was more of a declaration of war. Basically ... they're not asking for something specific to release Danny but saying this is a warning, this is the beginning of a war against the West, or 'America,' they call it -- so it is not -- it's not a killing that makes any sense." Lehrer asked again, "You think he was chosen just because he was an American and an American journalist?" Mrs. Pearl said: "I think so. It's difficult to say right now because he is an American journalist but also a person writing about those issues -- terrorism ... so it's not clear. I don't know yet whether he angered them by the story he was writing ... but I believe that he was chosen as a symbol of journalists getting into the country and reporting, Americans, the West, you know." Not entirely. Before they decapitated him with a knife, they made him say: "I am a Jew. My father was a Jew. My mother was a Jew." Why the delicacy about mentioning this? As Victor Davis Hanson asks in a coruscating piece in National Review Online (, "Would the world be angry if a Jewish terrorist forced a captured Muslim to admit to his race and faith as he executed and beheaded him on film?" The tendency of American and European journalists and officials to bend over backward in granting moral equivalence to the Israelis and Muslim terrorists has become grotesque. It is painfully obvious that Israel plays by one set of rules -- seeking to destroy only those who perpetrate terror and limit civilian casualties -- while the Palestinian Authority plays by an entirely different set of rules -- targeting innocent civilians every time. And yet from President Bush, to Secretary of State Powell, to the leaders of the European community, to "experts" and analysts offered up on television, we hear endless braying about "both sides" needing to show "restraint." This is in every relevant respect like asking Al Qaeda and the United States alike to show restraint. Further, there has been a strange silence about the virulent and disgusting anti-Semitism (yes, anti-Semitism, not anti-Zionism) aflame in the Arab and Muslim world. Just last week, a Saudi government sponsored newspaper printed a column about the Jewish holiday of Purim. "For this holiday," explained
a professor at King Faisal University, "the Jewish people must obtain blood so that their clerics can prepare the holiday pastries. ... I would like to clarify that the Jews' spilling human blood to prepare pastry for their holidays is a well-established fact, historically and legally, all throughout history. ... Let us now examine how the victims' blood is spilled. For this, a needle-studded barrel is used; this is a kind of barrel, about the size of a human body, with extremely sharp needles set in it on all sides. (These) pierce the victim's body ... and the blood drips from him very slowly. Thus the victim suffers dreadful torment -- torment that affords the Jewish vampires great delight as they carefully monitor every detail of the blood-shedding with pleasure and love that is difficult to comprehend." Thanks to the Middle East Media Research Institute, which translates the Arab press into English, this little historical essay has now been disavowed by the editor of the paper, who admits that the blood libel is "not supported by any scientific or historic facts." But this kind of anti-Jewish calumny has become almost daily fare in the government-controlled press of our dear friends, the Saudis, and our dear allies, the Egyptians, among others in the Middle East. For some time now, Hitler's "Mein Kampf" has been on the best-seller lists at Palestinian bookstores. The Egyptian government paper Al-Akhbar described a recent suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed a number of women and children as "heroic," because it sends the signal that "there is no safe place left for Israelis." Not only is it in our national interest to draw the line against terror and incitement, it is a moral test for the world's leaders, as well. Will the world once again flinch in the face of genocidal anti-Semitism?