Ruth Pearl, Mother of Murdered Reporter Daniel Pearl, Dies at 85

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A reluctant celebrity, she was thrust into the spotlight aft his brutal death, and created a instauration successful his representation to beforehand taste understanding.

Ruth Pearl and husband, Judea Pearl, astatine  a Hanukkah reception astatine  the White House successful  2007. After her son’s murder, she wrote, “Like galore  generations earlier  us, we are present  embarking connected  a caller   warfare  against anti-Semitism and fanaticism.” 
Credit...Matthew Cavanugh/Getty Images

Clay Risen

July 30, 2021Updated 2:30 p.m. ET

Ruth Pearl, the parent of Daniel Pearl, a newsman for The Wall Street Journal who was brutally murdered by Muslim extremists successful Pakistan successful 2002, thrusting her and her husband, Judea, into the planetary spotlight, died connected July 20 astatine her location successful Los Angeles. She was 85.

Judea Pearl confirmed her decease but did not specify the cause.

Mrs. Pearl, who was calved successful Iraq, was a retired bundle developer surviving successful Los Angeles erstwhile Daniel, 38, The Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, was kidnapped portion reporting successful Karachi. Despite pleas from his parents and hopeless efforts to triumph his merchandise by the U.S. government, his kidnappers beheaded him connected Feb. 1, 2002, signaling a video of his past words — “My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish.”

Daniel’s execution came conscionable months aft the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the consequent penetration of Afghanistan by the United States and its allies. His murderers singled him retired due to the fact that helium was American and Jewish, a information that galore observers said underlined the peculiarly virulent menace posed by Islamic radicals.

At first, the Pearls tried to debar the quality media, releasing statements and speaking to a tiny fig of reporters.

They opened up aboriginal successful the twelvemonth to beforehand a publication of Daniel’s journalism to denote a instauration they had established successful his name. They appeared connected speech shows similar “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Larry King Live,” but the acquisition was hard — portion they wanted to speech astir his legacy, galore reporters and speech amusement hosts wanted to dwell connected his murder.

“We privation to support our privacy,” Mrs. Pearl told The Los Angeles Times successful 2002. “We don’t privation our pictures successful the paper. We privation to woody with our grief successful private. We don’t privation to beryllium talking astir it.”


In 2003 the Pearls published “I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl,” which included essays by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kirk Douglas and the Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer. Mr. Pearl said that his wife, who did astir of the editing and contributed an essay, considered it her top accomplishment.

“Like galore generations earlier us, we are present embarking connected a caller warfare against anti-Semitism and fanaticism,” she wrote. “Driven by the imaginativeness of Danny — a arrogant Jew who continues to animate radical with his values and dignity — we volition triumph this war, arsenic did our ancestors for galore generations.”

In 2007 they were backmost successful the quality with the merchandise of the movie “A Mighty Heart,” based connected a memoir by Daniel Pearl’s widow, Mariane Pearl, and starring Angelina Jolie and Dan Futterman. That wintertime they attended the White House Hanukkah reception, wherever they lit their family’s menorah.

Eventually the attraction died down, and the Pearls were capable to absorption connected their foundation’s charitable efforts, which included fellowships for Muslim journalists, assemblage lecture bid and an yearly euphony festival; their son, successful summation to being an acclaimed reporter, was a classically trained violinist.

But Daniel’s execution continued to haunt them, and not lone arsenic a memory. Though his killers had been rapidly arrested and sentenced — 1 to death, 3 to beingness successful situation — they became causes célèbres successful Pakistan. High-profile efforts to triumph their merchandise rapidly gained traction, and the Pearls stayed engaged with the proceedings from Los Angeles.

In 2020, a Pakistani tribunal overturned the execution convictions and reduced the sentences for kidnapping to clip served. The Pearls, done a lawyer, appealed, arsenic did the Pakistani government; the Pakistani Supreme Court is scheduled to see some appeals aboriginal this summer.

In a video the mates released successful June 2020, Mrs. Pearl, who by past was struggling with respiratory problems, appealed to the Pakistani radical to enactment their efforts.

“There’s not a azygous time that we bash not miss our son,” she said.


Credit...Alberto Rodriguez/Paramount Vantage

She was calved Eveline Rejwan connected Nov. 11, 1935, successful Baghdad. Her father, Joseph, was a tailor and ran an import business, and her mother, Victoria (Abada) Rejwan, was a homemaker.

Along with her husband, Mrs. Pearl is survived by her sister, Carmella; her daughters Michelle and Tamara; and 5 grandchildren.

Eveline was 5 erstwhile a failed coup led to an outbreak of anti-Jewish unit crossed Iraq. In what came to beryllium known arsenic the Farhud, Jewish-owned stores were ransacked and astatine slightest 179 Jews were killed. Her household hid successful their location for days, protected by Arab neighbors, who told would-be looters, “There are nary Jews here.”

Soon afterward the household moved to a suburb, but the unit continued. Joseph was beaten portion riding his bicycle, resulting successful the nonaccomplishment of imaginativeness successful 1 eye; helium aboriginal had to bribe a constabulary serviceman to escaped his 2 sons aft their apprehension connected mendacious charges. Others were little lucky. Mrs. Pearl recalled seeing the bodies of Iraqi Jews hanging from gallows successful a square.

“Growing up arsenic a Jewish kid successful Baghdad,” she wrote successful “I Am Jewish,” “left maine with recurring nightmares of being chased by a knife-wielding Arab successful the school’s stairway portion 2,000 schoolmates screamed hysterically.”

In the precocious 1940s she worked with an underground Zionist question that helped Jews sneak into British-controlled Palestine. As portion of her mentation to bash the same, she began to usage the Hebrew sanction Ruth.

In 1948 her brothers were smuggled into Israel, past recently independent, and successful 1951 she and the remainder of her household — her parents and 2 sisters — followed them arsenic portion of a wide exodus of Iraqi Jews.

Mrs. Pearl served successful the Israeli Navy earlier attending Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, wherever she studied electrical engineering. It was wherever she met Mr. Pearl.

The mates joined successful 1960 and moved to New Jersey to prosecute postgraduate degrees, helium astatine New York Polytechnic (today the Tandon School of Engineering astatine N.Y.U.) and she astatine the Newark Institute of Technology (today the New Jersey Institute of Technology).

In 1966 they moved with their 3 young children to Los Angeles, wherever Mr. Pearl taught astatine the University of California, Los Angeles, and Mrs. Pearl worked arsenic a bundle developer.

Mrs. Pearl had retired by the clip of her son’s murder, and afterward she threw herself into moving the Daniel Pearl Foundation. Her grief drove her, she said, but truthful did her memories of increasing up successful Iraq, and her tendency to antagonistic the hatred some she and her lad had encountered.

“Dehumanizing radical is the archetypal measurement successful inviting unit similar Nazism and fascism,” she said in a 2014 interview. “We person to bash our share, and that’s the portion that’s the astir hard to get radical to realize. It’s precise casual to dehumanize. I’m definite the killers of Danny had nary consciousness of identifying with the humanity that connects us. For them Danny was an object.”

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