Students from Jewish, Episcopal, Muslim and Mennonite schools came together recently for the 11th annual Daniel Pearl “Harmony for Humanity” concert, part of the Daniel Pearl Foundation’s World Music Days series aimed at using music to spread messages of hope and peace.
The foundation and the concert series were started in response to the kidnapping, murder and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 in Pakistan by al Qaeda forces. Pearl’s parents, Dr. Judea and Ruth Pearl, who began the foundation in their son’s memory, were in attendance at Weizmann Day School for the Oct. 18 event, as were Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu and Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard.
“This is our way of taking revenge,” Judea Pearl told the Pasadena Weekly. “We have an enemy, and the target of our revenge is the ideology that took Danny’s life. But we know where our power lies and we know that we must be effective in whatever we do. So we don’t drive drones or tanks. We’re using the weapons that we do have, the legacy of our son, which resonates with many communities and can energize them to action that they wouldn’t have taken otherwise. There’s no other way but to fight it in the most effective way, which is with a smile.”
Weizmann Day School hosted the event and joined voices with students from St. Mark’s School, New Horizon School and the Peace and Justice School in performing songs intended to promote peace and understanding
among different cultures and religions.
In his 2009 essay “Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil,” Judea Pearl wrote that he and others “genuinely hoped that Danny’s murder would be a turning point in the history of man’s inhumanity to man,” but that that did not come to pass in a way he had hoped.
“People did take notice, but I expected it to be much more drastic,” he said. “What did happen is relative morality died with Daniel Pearl. It’s not true that for every side of the conflict there’s another side and they’re equally meritorious. It’s no longer true. There is an absolute evil in the world, and people realize it.”
Ruth Pearl said that the way to end the mentality that leads to terrorism is through education and awareness. “Education for humanity, for tolerance, for loving their own self, their own life,” she said. “You don’t strap yourself with a bomb if you love life. Danny loved life. You have to love life to appreciate the life of others, to give them value. If you don’t love your own self, then there’s no value to other people.”
Among other things, the Daniel Pearl Foundation provides fellowships for Muslim journalists. For six months fellows are brought to the US to work at the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. The idea is that they will then bring the ideas and practices of a free press back to their countries in the Middle East. Ruth Pearl said that the biggest eye opener for students is when they work at a Jewish paper for one week.
“Most of them never met a Jew in their life,” she said. “They realize we have so much in common.”
“This is our way of penetrating the Muslim world,” added Judea Pearl, “through journalism.”