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Notable & Quotable
Notable & Quotable



By Judea Pearl
Wall Street Journal
February 4, 2013


Judea Pearl, the father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, writing at Tablet (tabletmag.com), Feb. 4:


Most Jews have simple epitaphs on their headstones—perhaps a quote from Psalms or a passage from the Torah, or maybe a phrase proclaimed by one of the prophets. Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York, who died at 88 last Friday . . . has the last words spoken by our son Daniel Pearl before he was murdered by terrorists in 2002: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." . . .

I never met Koch in person, but we first corresponded in 2004, when my wife and I were working on a book of essays inspired by the last words of our son. . . . We commissioned many prominent Jews to reflect on what the phrase "I am Jewish" meant to them, and Koch was one of the 300 people we asked. Koch sent in an essay mainly expressing anger about the terrorists—how they act against civilized society, and how they should be dealt with. It was about our world and how we got into this war, and we felt it didn't fit the theme. The theme was what does being Jewish mean to you, a very personal question, and we asked Koch if he'd be open to revising it. Koch's answer was definitive: That's how I feel, he said, and I can't change it. . . .

Some will surely comment on the fact that Koch included how our son was murdered, and who his killers were: "Muslim terrorists." Koch, as I said, was very angry about Islamist terror, and I think using these words was very purposeful on his part: a way of reminding us that our enemy is not 19 misguided lunatics, but a whole ideology that fosters anti-Western fanaticism and elevates itself above the norms of civilized society. In a time where political correctness was at its peak, perhaps it was productive for Ed Koch to remind New Yorkers that our real enemy is not Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but the ideology on which he grew and that is being passed on to his children, emboldened and intensified by the hour. That is our real enemy.

A version of this article appeared February 5, 2013, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Notable & Quotable.

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