Jan 3, 2006 2:31 am


Judah Pearl responded to the beheading of his son by inviting Akbar S. Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University, to an interfaith dialogue. Akbar, a former Pakistani, wrote:

I agreed to go to Pittsburgh in order to express my support to the Pearl family for creating in Daniel a symbol of compassion in spite of the personal tragedy. As a Pakistani I felt it would also allow me to express my deep sympathy. As a Muslim I could make the point that Dannys murder was un-Islamic. Indeed Dannys death symbolized that far too many innocent people Muslims and non-Muslimsin different places, in different societies were being brutally killed in our world.

In explaining why he agreed to the dialogue, Dr. Pearl said that he was a scientist who wished to avenge Dannys murder by attacking the hatred that took his sons life and by challenging the ideology that permitted the hatred to bloom. There was also another reason. During our public exchange, he said I was the first Muslim that he had read who showed any empathyfor the sense of siege Jews feel in the contemporary world. He read out some sentences from a book of mine. My thesis suggests that the feeling of siege experienced by Muslim societies in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and the Balkans is found amongst other people as well.

Judah Pearl responded in a way Kushner and Spielberg would have liked to respond but they did not respond in the way Judah Pearl wanted them to respond. As he writes in today's LA Times , they do not understand his need for justice:

When people ask me whether I seek revenge, I answer: The killers do not interest me. I would rather seek effective ways of lessening the hatred that took Danny's life. We should care less about fanatics on the run and more about the ideological fuel that sustains them, such as clerics like Qaradawi, and Al Jazeera, which amplifies their voices.

However, when asked whether I wish to see the mastermind of Danny's abduction, Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, brought to justice, my answer is an unqualified yes.

I can imagine Danny's son Adam (whom Danny never lived to see) one day asking what happened to those who killed his father. I hope not to have to reply:"The hearing of his appeal has been postponed for the 32nd time," (which, to the shame of Pakistan's justice system, is the answer at the moment).

Bringing criminals to justice reaffirms the civilized world's commitment to live by principles and breeds secure and responsible citizens; failure to do so breeds morally confused criminals. "Munich" is about the complexity of bringing evildoers to justice in a world where those entrusted with the job often lack the will to do so. With that in mind, the film can still be enjoyed. But the message we should take away is that two of the terrorists are still at large and must be brought to justice.

Judah Pearl is right. That is the reason neither Golda Meir nor those who executed her order to bring the murderers to justice felt they regret.

And it is time that the Pakistanis realize that justice delayed is justice denied.

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