Opinion: Commemorating journalist Daniel Pearl at the Seder table

Alex Landy, Editor-in-Chief

This past week, a Pakistani court overturned the death sentences of four men associated with the 2002 kidnapping and murder of former Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The next day, a higher court rearrested those men for detainment until their convictions were either reinstated or permanently reversed. The lack of justice shown in Pearl’s case is concerning and a warning to the Western world.

Regardless of the legal process, these men must face the law for their violent attacks on journalism. And together, it is our responsibility as Jews to preserve Pearl’s noble legacy by demanding that his murderers face strict punishment, particularly as we celebrate Passover.

By loosening the sentences and overturning the convictions of Pearl’s suspected murderers, Pakistani officials have both evaded justice and undermined the value that bold journalism contributes to the world. And by assailing a fair and just legal process, Pearl’s legacy has been, in turn, tarnished.

Throughout his career, Pearl represented the fearless nature of journalism all over the world. Pearl at the time was investigating a possible connection between Al-Qaeda terrorists and British militants. In the process of his perilous investigation, he was abducted in Karachi, Pakistan, and later executed on a video that was published to the internet, according to the New York Times.

Even as we face an avalanche of reports on the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), we must not overlook this story or Pearl’s fulfilling life as a father, husband, musician and proud Jew. During the sacred holiday of Passover, our community must keep Pearl in our thoughts as we participate in unusually small Seders.

Passover is centered on the principle of freedom, as we mark the liberation of the people of Israel from an oppressive Egyptian regime. We would be remiss not to honor Pearl, a man whose sacrifice led to his death, particularly amidst an absence of justice in the case of his murderers. I urge us all to uphold the values of Passover by commemorating Pearl’s life at our Seder tables and demanding that his lawless captors be punished.