Mr. Donald Graham,
Dear Mr. Graham,
We met at your office four years ago, after I spoke at a Freedom Forum event in memory of
32 journalists who lost their lives in 2002, including my son Daniel Pearl.
The reason for writing this letter to you is a disturbing article entitled “Jewish Identity Can’t Depend on Violence,” by Arun Gandhi, which was posted on the Newsweek/Washington Post website (On Faith, January 7) and which states, among other whimsical allegations, that, “Israel and the Jews are the biggest players” in the creation of a “Culture of Violence that is eventually going to destroy humanity.”
You probably received many complaints about this article from individuals and organizations concerned about the ramifications of these words, in view of the authoritative reputation of the Post and the legendary prominence of the author’s grandfather.
I wish to add my personal, independent input on the matter.
In his final moments Danny told his captors on camera:
“My father is Jewish, My mother is Jewish, I am Jewish,”
and, as President Bush said in the White House last month:
“These words have become a source of inspiration to Americans of all faiths.”
My son Daniel died mighty proud of his Jewish identity. He, like the millions of decent and peace-seeking Israelis, and Americans who proudly carry on their Jewish heritage, did not see his identity as “dependent on violence” as the title of Gandhi’s article implies.
Mr. Graham, the article your editors have allowed to be posted is a painful insult to everything Daniel stood for, to everything America stands for, and to every decent person inspired by Daniel’s words.
Too many people were killed, abused or dispossessed in the past century by words of irresponsible authors, often disguised as scholars or humanitarians, who pointed fingers at, and blamed one segment of society for the ills and maladies in the world.
Arun Gandhi did just that.
We live in an era in which people are deeply troubled by the path this planet is taking. Violence is on the rise and no sensible strategy is in sight for containing it. Gandhi decided to exploit this state of anxiety and transform it into a mob hysteria directed at Jews, Israel-supporters, and Israelis.
Gandhi and the Post cannot be exonerated by making distinctions between “Israel policies,” “Israel existence”, “Judaism” or “Jewishness”, as Gandhi has attempted to do in his semi-apology.
The title of Gandhi’s article reads “Jewish identity,” and one’s identity is an inextricable part of one’s psyche and being. Your editors approved of (perhaps even composed) this title, and they understood exactly what it means, who is being blamed for the world’s violence, and how dangerous the consequences of these words may be.
The hatred that killed my son Daniel was created by wreckless incitements of this sort, propagated and aided by the very media of which he was a proud member.
As one of the nation’s most credible and respected newspapers, the Post has a responsibility to curtail, not facilitate, the propagation of hatred, bigotry and falsehood.
If Gandhi wishes to voice objections to Israel’s policies, the Post should encourage him to do so by detailing to the public what alternative, more effective means he deems Israel should use to defend herself. Instead, the author was allowed to make sweeping allegations, and portray the Jewish people as possessing an inherent disposition toward violence, unleashed and given license by the Holocaust.
I trust that you use the moral authority the public has bestowed upon you and not only distance yourself from the words of this thoughtless author, but assure the public that such editorial oversights do not signal a shift in the Post’s policies vis a vis the maintenance of decent and responsible discourse.
I look forward to your thoughts on this matter.
Professor Judea Pearl, President
Daniel Pearl Foundation