Hollywood cannot make films about Terrorism without a whitewash. The newest farce apparently is the story of Daniel Pearl, murdered because he was a Jew. Debbie Schlussel writes:

As one would expect from the Jolie-Pitts, “A Mighty Heart” is mostly NOT about the Al-Qaeda murder of Daniel Pearl, killed in cold blood specifically because he was a Jew. In fact, the movie minimizes that, instead repeatedly blaming America for its treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners as the reason Pearl was cut into the ten pieces like a slaughtered chicken, the state in which his body was found. (That’s no surprise, given that the Jolie-Pitts hired as “A Mighty Heart’s” director, Michael Winterbottom, who also directed the propaganda fake-umentary, “The Road to Guantanamo.”) In “A Mighty Heart,” we see no depiction at all of Pearl’s captivity or even kidnapping by Qaeda thugs, but for a few re-enactments of tiny parts of the famous Pearl video.

Most shocking, we get an onscreen repeat of the oft-told Muslim myth that 4,000 Jews didn’t show up for work at the World Trade Center on 9/11, because the Jews planned the attacks. The movie provides no refutation of this myth or any indication that it is invalid.

Even Variety, that usually stays out of the fray, came away with a sense that all was not right in this film:

Controversy continued to dog “A Mighty Heart” on the eve of its bigscreen bow, as pic drew fire over a screening designed to promote religious tolerance.

Paramount Vantage initiated the Thursday evening event — a screening followed by a panel discussion at the Sherry Lansing theater — soliciting input from Muslim, Christian and Jewish orgs. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [anti-Israel-Ed.] and Progressive Christians Uniting (PCU) [anti-Israel-Ed.] ended up co-sponsoring with the specialty label; Plan B co-producer Dede Gardner and Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak were skedded to appear on the panel along with reps of CAIR and PCU. Café Intifada [anti-Israel-Ed.], Friends of Pakistan, USA and Muslim Public Affairs Council [anti-Israel-Ed.]also lent their support to the event.

However, a Jewish activist decried the leanings of several of the participants, likening CAIR’s involvement to “David Duke co-sponsoring ‘Schindler’s List.'”

“The only reason they like this film is because it’s about a dead Jew,” said Allyson Rowen-Taylor, who has been involved in orgs such as the American Jewish Congress and Stand With Us.

Clearly they wanted to show that many people helped find Daniel Pearl. And also many people wanted and wished him killed. The film doesn’t talk about that apparently. If you have seen it – sound off below.

About the author

Rabbi Yonah


  • Schlussel is wrong. It’s clear Pearl was killed because he was a Jew. The movie was not made for a Jewish audience but for a wider demographic and portrays Pearl as an innocent victim anyone could identify with. We don’t learn much about the murderers–which may be a flaw or a benefit as it doesn’t allow fake propaganda to be introduced.

  • I am sick to my stomach. Danny really deserves better than this, if all that’s reported is true.

    It’s apparently possible to deny anything these days. Apparently these monsters could kill someone in broad daylight, cameras rolling in the middle of Times Square, and CAIR and other cretins would be there to assure that the reportage was “fair.”

  • I am rarely disapointed with the posts on this blog but Rabbi Yonah’s above looks likes it was ripped from FOX news even down to the hypothetical headline ” A Mighty Whitewash?”.

    1) On Debbie’s musings ..I believe the filmakers intent was to show what really happened not what they think happened to Danny. It would have been fiction to pretend we know what was going on with Danny when he was captive. Whay would you want to see the gruesome way he was murdered or treated ? Isnt enought that he was kidnapped and killed ? You really need to see blood and guts to understand the inhumanity? I don’t.

    2) The Myth of the 4,000…..Does every canard need to be debunked in a movie…? I dont recall Schindlers list any character discaliming Goethes ponouncements that Jews were vermin? Thsi is a movie folks about the complicated world we live in Not an after school special.

    3) Who cares who was at the premiere ? I think we should all applauad anytime you get anyone with differing opinions in the same room to experience something that shows common humanity……I dont care why they came or if they rode in Hitlers car to get there ..they showed up and experienced a piece of art that showed the best we can be and the worst we can be ….

  • Someone told me that they made his wife Jewish in the movie and gave them a Jewish wedding . Is that true, and if so it contradicts the assertion that they played down his Jewishness.

  • Not sure if that is true or not Daniiel, but I have seen footage of their wedding on an HBO documentary, and they were married under a chuppah and signed a ketubah (by whom I don’t know, but it is possible that the film just reproduced the look of what actually did happen).

  • I don’t know Rabbi Yonah, but my 5 year stint at UJA informed me that “professional” Jews will find almost anything – barring a jpost.com article – to be anti-Israel, and at times anti-Semitic.

    Rabbi…UJA and most shuls are so good at “whitewash”…we should open up a car wash.

  • I have always had the clear impression that his wife was not Jewish, and a chuppah wedding does not necessarily contradict that, because some interfaith weddings have a chuppah, perhaps.

  • Right, exactly JM. She is a Buddhist. I think that whoever reported to Daniiel was confused that she was being portrayed as being Jewish just because there was a chuppah in the wedding scene.

    Though I could be wrong having not seen the movie yet.

  • Anyone who defends this film is naive. They took the Jewishness out of Anne Frank’s life and death; you think they won’t do it to Pearl’s too? You think they are willing to confront the reality of Muslim radicalism? As with the film “Munich,” Hollywood has again taken a Jewish subject and used it to help the cause of Jew-haters. Thanks, Hollywood.

  • She is French, I think. Don’t give people the impression she is Asian.

  • “Anyone who defends this film is naive.”


  • I agree Shtreimel. It hasn’t even been released yet, has it? And in the grand scheme of things there are much bigger fish to fry.

    While Daniel Pearl was Jewish by birth, he also was an avowed humanist with not much interest in religion. This is not a moral judgement or good or bad thing. I am just saying (in response to Queens Jew post) that his life story isn’t one that is inherently Jewish. Certainly his execution was (though one could argue that if he was an American Xtian he would have seen the same fate). And I understand if one of the lessons is that whether you are Jewish by practice or birth, it doesn’t matter to the Jihadis. Sure, absolutely. But his story is not inherently a “Jewish story” the way that we could view Anne Frank’s.

  • Well, no story is like any other story.

    If you can find one religious reference in Anne Frank’s diary, well, it’s news to me. There was not candle lighting, no shabbos, no praying, no Torah study. Nada.

    They were comfortable with being Jews, and they knew they had to hide because they were Jews, but the Frank sisters’ American pen-pal – also a young girl – had no idea the Frank girls were Jews. They hadn’t mentioned it in their letters. I don’t think they were hiding it, they just didn’t have anything to say about it.

    The pen-pals wished they had known. “We would have worried more…” one said, sweetly. G-d bless America.

    But Anne Frank’s story is certainly a Jewish story. Obviously.

  • The future Diaries may indeed be a teensy bit more multi-ethnic, as you say. But the Jews get special mention, in very old words.

  • Yes, absolutely. Because her story is still centered around her Jewishness (why she was hiding in the first place). I suppose that my point is that with Daniel Pearl that while being Jewish certainly didn’t help his chances, that being a Westerner probably sealed his ultimate fate anyway. And just being a non-Muslim sealed his fate. And being a reporter sealed his fate. Etc…his Jewishness became an issue because of his last words, obviously. And does serve as a warning as to the Jihadists true intentions and thoughts. I just don’t know if it was ultimately his Jewishness that led to his death.

  • Well, there is a reporter has been held for some time, who is not having a great time, but he is alive. The BBC man. And plenty of Westerners have been catch-and-release-d, or held for exchange. No, there is a special script, a unique script, a unique status.

  • Adam,
    You raise interesting points. My wife is 1492 Sephardic. Her family was able to flee, others CHOSE death instead of being Catholic. One wonders what Pearl and Frank would have done if given a choice to convert?

  • Well but that is in Gaza (and frequently reporters have been caught and released in Gaza, specifically for the media attention). In this part of Pakistan it would be much easier to pull off, in all of the vast tribal areas, this type of kidnapping and execution (much like in Iraq) would be much easier to pull off–and of course still get the media attention for it. I’m not saying that Jihadists don’t have a special, particular brand of hatred of Jews…just that in this instance–masterminded by Khalid Sheik Muhammed–I think that Daniel Pearl would’ve been killed Jewish or not (and would have been indicted as a Mossad agent, Jewish or not).

  • Adam,
    If what you say is true, that he had not much interest in religion, his parents book”I am Jewish” is a little tacky.

  • Hmm, I have somewhat had the same thought as well Daniiel. His father (who is Israeli) is an avowed atheist, and as such has sparked a little discontent when he has expressed as much at some shuls while talking. I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with you, though I think it is a worthwhile question to ask. Is it a “manufacted” Jewish story in a sense? And if so, why?

  • What is manufactured here? They held a knife to Pearl’s throat, made him say “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish” and then beheaded him.

    The remark is used to highlight the hatred of Jews by those who killed him and who did it apparently as devout Muslims who believe they are fulfilling a religious duty. By using it as a book title, this is what is highlighted not whether Pearl kept shabbat.

  • Oy…I didn’t mean manufactured as an inherently negative idea. All narratives (in some way or another) do become manufactured in the ways in which we re-tell them, presednt them, etc…

    Yes, I agree TM. Yes, yes, yes, obviously the Jihadis hated Pearl because he was a Jew. They also hated him because he was a Westerner. And an American in particular. That is all that I am saying.

    It doesn’t make it any less tragic, or hate-filled or awful, or scary to us as Jews. I am just speaking in the sense of how a narrative is formed. And because of the book the narrative has been embraced as a particularly Jewish narrative, when in some ways the story is a warning to just how irrational and inculcated this hatred is (to the west, modernism, etc…).

  • I saw it and hated it. Another sophomoric, lazy effort by mainstream Hollywood. They could simply choose not to make films with controversial subject matters; instead, they extract the tear-jerking aspects of stories like the Pearl’s and focus on this, in an effort to simply make $$$.

  • Here’s the book’s description:

    On February 21, 2002, Pakistani terrorists murdered an American journalist, Danny Pearl, who had been lured to his capture on January 23 with the promise of an interview. The terrorists later released a video tape of Pearl’s murder by beheading, and Pearl’s last words, “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish” became part of the lexicon of the war on terror waged in the aftermath of al Qaida’s attacks of September 11 of the previous year. Pakistan worked quickly to apprehend the terrorists behind Pearl’s murder and Pearl’s family has worked to keep his memory alive.

    In the book I Am Jewish, edited by Pearl’s parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl, nearly one hundred fifty Jews from around the world have written short essays in which they reflect on Pearl’s last sentence. What does it mean to say, “I am Jewish.” Project participants range from the unknown, such as 22-year-old Itay from Haifa, to the famous, actor Richard Dreyfuss.

    Many of the participants have a personal tie to Daniel Pearl. His family members have produced their thoughts, as have childhood friends, like Daniel Gill. In other cases, the link exists more tenuously. Columnist Thomas L. Friedmann notes that while he never met Pearl, the men are linked by their profession and their interest in trying to understand the Middle East in a non-biased manner.

    The responses the statement elicited are extremely varied and nearly every Jew will find himself agreeing with some and disagreeing with other. They range the gamut from Dennis Prager’s contention that “After Auschwitz, there are only religious (i.e., G-d-based) reasons to be a Jew.” to Larry King’s statement that “Judaism is both a religion and a race.” All of the essays, however, attempt to define being Jewish without saying that being Jewish is not being of another religion.

    The essays are all short, encouraging the reader to dip into them at random in an attempt to find opinions which either support the reader’s own opinions or stretch their definitions to new places. At the same time, the Pearls have tried to arrange the essays into loose topics, which allow more serious readers to get a wide range of opinions which relate to the same aspect of Judaism and form stark contrasts to each other on those topics.

    Reading I Am Jewish leads the reader to wonder how different a book with the title I Am Muslim or I Am Christian would be. Each of the three books would come out of related, but very different cultural backgrounds, but would also invite a lot of interesting comparisons between the similarities (and differences) between the religions.

    Although I Am Jewish would make an excellent gift for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the time when most Jews are reflecting, at least in some manner on their religious identity, it also shows that the question of Jewish identity is one which is revisited throughout the course of a lifetime. The introspection shown varies from statements such as Liz Lerman’s comment that her daughter “is Jewish because I am Jewish” to the much more complex musings of Shimon Peres. Both, however, offer substantial comments about personal identity.

  • Adam,
    good posts. I never realized his father was an athiest or that he married out. I guess it doesn’t make his death less tragic, but it kind of bursts the bubble of the book. I mean his son could not have said what he said, and did what he daid have any meaning other than being at gunpoint. I wish I hadn’t read this story.

  • Just one more thing that I thought of…I believe that (some of at least) the funds raised by the book did go towards starting the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which certainly would seem to negate any skepticism of his parents’ motivations.

  • We expect Hollywood to universalize the tragedy and to minimize the Jewishness. Thats expected by a group of assimilated Jews in Hollywood.

    What is not needed, is the idea that Pearl’s murder was in anyway justified because of American foreign Policy.

    What is not needed is hinting that 9/11 was a Jewish plot, feeding fuel to the Jew-haters.

    What is not needed —and this is the real crux I was pointing out—is a group pf terrorist apologists and supporters of terrorist orgs like Cafe Intifada, CAIR, and so forth involved in a spin viewing.

    If everyone in Hollywood is afraid of how Muslims are being portrayed, how can we expect any real portrayals of the outrageous wars and bloodshed being caused at the hands of Muslim leaders and nations.

    They brought out these Muslim groups to show that this is a “fair” portrayal of Muslims, and they should not go and bomb theaters in Europe over it.

    Will this movie show in Pakistan?!

    Will this movie show in Egypt?!

    Of course not.

    Pakistanis as a whole are not bad people, of course not. But the perpetrators of this heinous crime deserve to be held responsible and identified, and Pearls murder should not be couched in “perspective” of American foreign policy.

    And Scott:

    Should it have read like an NPR post?

  • Marianne Pearl’s father is French and her mother is Afro-Cuban. She grew up in France and was raised Catholic, but has been a practicng Buddhist for most of her adult life.
    Marianne did not convert to Judiasm even though her and Daniel’s wedding had Jewish elements in it. As everyone here knows, these kinds of weddings are common among the Reform Movement and always involve Rabbis who will do anything for money.
    Daniel wasn’t religious but Marianne did say in an interview that he was looking for a Jewish wife when he met her.
    Marianne is a courageous brave women but she has the typical naive beeding-heart view that peace will be achieved if we all just hold hands and sing Cumbaya. This movie is the result of that kind of thinking.

  • On what basis do you identify Progressive Christians Uniting as “anti-Israel”?

    On what basis do you identify the Muslim Public Affairs Council as “anti-Israel” when it explicitly endorses a two-state solution (and is one of very few Muslim organizations to do so)?

    Besides, these days, “anti-Israel” is a pretty meaningless term these days: depending on the speaker it can mean anything from “critical of the policies of the current government of Israel” to “critical of the occupation of the West Bank” to “absolutely opposed to the very existence of the Zionist entity.”

  • Why is everyone ignoring the fact that Mariane’s father was Jewish? If you want to say that Daniel Pearl ‘married out” because her mother wasn’t jewish fine, but one should at least mention her father to give a fuller context to the story.

  • Muffti is having a flashback to another movie that came out about which people said all the same bullshit. It was called ‘Munich’. Go see a movie before you criticize.

  • the advance buzz on munich was that it sucked and, guess what? it did suck! and at least one commenter saw the film and he hasn’t contradicted any of the advance buzz. So muffti? ever have a big dick up your ass? no? well how do you know you won’t like it? go get sodomized and then come back and tell me how bad it is.

    Heh. I love messin’ with ya. Though I know you’ll tear apart the logic of my argument, I know one blond webmaster who would splooge all over his keyboard if he read this…

  • It’s my impression that the movie is based on or at least uump off from Marianne’s book, not the book published by Danny’s father, which is a collection of essays from people expressing what being Jewish means to them.

    Good points, Rabbi. All the side issues –Danny’s secularism, his wife’s status, etc.– are unimportant. The fact is that he died largely because he is a Jew. Sadly, his murder put him in the public sector, and apparently fodder for a “good story” stripped of its pertinant elements.

    I won’t be seeing this, but not out of objections raised here. I just find the subject to personally upsetting.

  • Very clever, daveeed. Muffti was thinking more of the ‘munich is overly morally equivalent on terrorism’ thing, which seemed to muffti like so much hyperbole.

    Muffti doesn’t feel any pull to having a big dick up his ass; but he wouldn’t go around opining that it doesn’t feel good or even that he wouldn’t like it.

    Incidentally, what is the evidence that the murder or daniel pearl was related to his being jewish? Journalists of all persuasions seem to have had moderate trouble keeping their heads attached:

    Mohammed Ahmed.

    66 Dead Algerian reporters in 1996.

    Muffti knows he will take shit for citing this guy, and he is no fan, but Robert Fisk has an article where he considers why journalists are more in the line of fire than ever before which is worth considering.

  • When he was first murdered, the media made him out to be a martyr to be added to the Yom Kippor service. If his Jewishness was tenuous was this a case of another Jesica Lynch- i.e. the media wanting a hero. Is his death being exploited as anti -Islamofascist propaganda? Why wasn’t Nicholas Bergs story as important?

  • Muffti, 2 out of 3 of your links don’t work. Fisk is a first rate schmuck with an anti-Israel bias that goes deeper than the hypothetical dick y’all are discussing above. But I’m writing because your point is not realistic. Pearl may have been killed because he was a journalist. He may have been killed because he was a Westerner. He may have been killed because he was an American. He may have been killed because he was in the wrong place at an inopportune time. All of those may be true. However, he was beheaded by people who forced him to say LAST WORDS that address his Jewishness.

    If somebody wants to make a point, they let you say the most important or relevant thing you’re going to say RIGHT BEFORE slitting your throat. It’s, you know, a bit of dramatic flair. This is what happened here, and it is highly doubtful that he wouldn’t have been butchered in this ritualistic manner had he not been a JEWISH, Western, American, liberal reporter who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The Middle, however, agrees with the Grand Muffti that one should see a movie before criticizing it.

  • Your man Steinhardt took on Steinstaltz in a debate about Judaism, God, etc. Besides bank rolling free Israel trips, is there any, and I mean any, reason why Steinstaltz should have given this yutz the time of day? Anyway, here’s a link, and the MP3 of the debate:


  • the middle,
    you may be right, but they also may have thought thaat the Jewish angle would have given better media play

  • Is the movie free? Or do I have to pay $10 to find out that what the people that saw it for free are correct?

    Those groups are anti-Israel because they are relentless in portraying Israel as an evil place, of bad people and crimes against humanity.

    of course if you think Israel is that bad, well, then I guess they are nice folks with peace on the brain.

  • Post 43: No, no spin is necessary or even possible. The story wrote itself. The story was specifically crafted by the people in charge, the people with the weapons, as TM so brilliantly summarized.

    It is NOT POSSIBLE for those people to do business in a normal way with a Jew, and then see him to the door, so he can go back to his office and file his piece about his time with them. NOT POSSIBLE. It is not just that it would be yucky and weird to them, or damned unpleasant, or that they flew into a rage. No. Not at all. It would have NOT BEEN POSSIBLE to do otherwise.

    To do that would be to have a non-hostile contact with a Jew on THEIR TURF. They are only ALLOWED to do business with a Jew when they have no choice at all and have to.

    When they DO have a choice, it would be a TERRIBLE SACRILEGE, in their thinking, to deal normally with him.

    They ABSOLUTELY HAD to do what they did, given their thinking, their friends, and who they are. That is not an excuse. It is a description.

    You have no way of knowing all that. I am not mad at you.

    This is our place in History, at this time. I am not mad at anybody. It will play out. It may take a while.

    It would not be terrible to learn more. The internet is here to teach.

    His naivete killed him. So study. Live long.

  • Sorry abot the links…dunno what happened. Muffti isn’t sure what we are disagreeing about – we both think that it is highly doubtful that he wouldn’t have been butchered Jew or not. (did you inted the double negative there?) Perhaps the jew thing was just, from the beheader’s point of view, a bonus. In any case, Muffti was just trying to make the point that the beheading/general murder campaign seems to have a wider target than just Jews and soldiers. Reporters seem to be new targets. And Fisk may be all the things you say but Muffti thinks he has a plausible take on why journalists have gone from safe reporters to targets.

    But muffti agrees with JM. Superb comment, tm.

    Rabbi, don’t pay to see it if you don’t want. Your post seemed to Muffti to be totaly reasonable: report what some others have said without endorsing it thereby. but Muffti thinks its just plain irresponsible in general to comment about things that are highly interpretable and open to opinion when one doens’t take the minimal effort to get acquainted with what they are commenting about. So either shell out the 10$, steal it off the internet or do whatever you like.

  • Why? Because normal dealings lead to discussions, lifestyle comparisons, and an implicit unspoken statement that their way may be great, but it is not the only right way. That other people are their equals. That other SYSTEMS are the equals of their systems.

    That, for them is heresy, contains implied heresy, and leads to heresy.

    The Jews are very specifically mentioned in their oldest texts. That is not true of other kinds of folks.

    I repeat: this applies on THEIR TURF. That could be interpreted to mean in one of their countries, or, possibly, an area where they are numerous, in another kind of country.

    People have the heritage they have. G-d and history will decide.

  • Yes, I saw the film–what is with you people? The movie makes it clear that Pearl’s Jewishness was an important reason why he was killed. It does not shy away from this fact.

  • 1) American Jews would not vote Republican if the Republicans brought the Messianic age.
    2) American Jews would vote Democratic if the Democrats cooked their mothers in butter and garlic and ate her on the courthouse lawn.
    3) The Republicans would be idiots to do anything for American Jews, because they would never vote Republican anyway.
    4) The Democrats would be idiots to do anything for American Jews because they would vote for them no matter what anyway.

    Conclusion: American Jews’ votes mean nothing and they have taken THEMSELVES out of the American electoral process.

    Tsk, tsk.

    I do not necessarily advocate voting Republican or any other party. I do advocate being known as willing to consider it, if sufficiently annoyed. That way you might never have to actually DO it.

  • Rabbi Yonah,
    Can you explain the halacha of martyrdom?
    Is there a difference between activ and passive? Adevout Jewor Apostate. Agentile killed because they thought he was Jewish

  • “of course if you think Israel is that bad, well, then I guess they are nice folks with peace on the brain.”

    One of the reasons Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris et al have an audience is because for too many years our religious leaders were able to say all sorts of things, much of which had little to do with their background and/or was based on hersey, without any recourse.

    The bar has been raised, our religious leaders should take note.

  • Shtrimel:
    Religious leader? Thank you Shtreimel – that is a great compliment, that I am not sure I hold myself to. Meanwhile I am sleep deprived and incoherent even to myself.

    Martyrdom is only permitted to sanctify God’s name, and to prevent from committing one of three cardinal sins: incest etc, murder, idolatry.

    Beyond that, we are not permitted to give up our lives for being Jewish.

    Now Pearl is a classic martyr, earning a place in Olam Haba. He knew he would die. He knew they were going to kill him. They KNEW he was a Jew and they were going to kill him.

    By declaring I am Jewish he sanctified God’s name. He is almost saying the Shma. Not quite. But who can judge?

  • I haven’t seen the movie. I had read Schlussel’s piece and it did instill a pre-conceived bias towards the movie. Unfortunately the opposite one she intended simply because I can’t stand her, her writing and her kowtowing to American Right-wing Media – even in cases where I agree with her.

    On a related subject, did the movie focus on Daniel’s love of music? Because of that, much of the foundation’s work is geared towards expressing his values musically.

    I’ve seen this a few times but maybe good to link to:


    At about 11:20 – “We have good reason to believe it was not coerced out of him.”

    Any way you put it, Jewish identity was important to Danny and is to his parents and I believe helps inform the mission they’re on.

    And don’t forget October is Daniel Pearl Music Days.

  • Rabbi Yonah…I urge rabbis to walk their talk because they DO enrich my life in so many ways. But when I read lazy, knee-jerk reactionary blog posts (signed by a “rabbi”), at the least, I expect them to have 1st hand experience with the thing they’re crapping on.

  • Rabbi yonah,
    Thanks. During the Crown Heights pogrom an italian wearing a black hat was murdered. Does he have any halachic status? What about kapos during the Holocaust , or apostate, anti-semites (think- Robert Novak-)unfortunately there were many . Were they considered martyrs by halacha?

  • Shtreimel- I was not crapping on the film -I was reporting what others said and specifically asked for other people to voice their opinions who have seen it.

    The italian goes to heaven for sure with or without martyrdom. They have the Vatican and lots of proteksia . But seriously, I have no idea. I will research it.

    It depends on the circumstances for the other cases.

  • Rabbi Yonah – your entire argument is based on ignorance and hearsay. You should be embarrassed, frankly. To suggest that the film promotes the notion that 9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy is moronic. I could maybe understand your citing it once in a momentary lapse of critical judgment, but your insistence on taking offense to something so clearly taken out of context is bewildering. That piece of dialogue was unambiguously intended to demonstrate the antisemitism prevalent in Pakistan.

    Daniel Pearl’s Jewishness is directly addressed and acknowledged in the film AT LEAST five or six times that I can think of off the top of my head. In every interview that I’ve seen/heard with Marianne Pearl, she has said that though Daniel was more than likely forced to say his penultimate words, his declaration that his grandfather has a street named after him in Bnei Brak is something his captors never could have known and was interpreted by her as his ownership of and pride in his Jewish identity. I’m almost sure that is also mentioned in the movie. Neither she nor the filmmakers downplay his Jewishness.

    The film is based on Marianne Pearl’s book and is presented from her perspective. She is not a Jew. She did not experience this as a Jew. From what I gather, she is pleased with how the movie turned out. I wish Daniel Pearl had not been murdered and were alive to tell his own story, perhaps from a perspective adequately Jewish for you folks. It would have been completely disgusting and exploitative of any filmmaker to speculate as to how Daniel Pearl experienced his kidnapping and murder.

    Rabbi Yonah – there is a way to solicit opinions without blatantly giving yours. You weren’t crapping on the film? Really?! I’d say the title of your post was kind of a giveaway. I’d say you’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m really not interested in anyone’s opinion on this particular topic who hasn’t bothered to see the movie. I’m not saying it’s a great movie. I’m not even sure I liked it. Is it told from a politically liberal perspective with a clear criticism of U.S. foreign policy? Sure. Is it naive? Perhaps. Is it morally objectionable? Not to me. Is it a whitewash? Not on your life. If you disagree after having seen the movie, I’d be curious to read your take on it.

    A final thought: this movie was not made in order to turn a profit. I don’t think anyone will be getting rich off of it. It is a rather unsubtle political expression, and one which I gather Marianne Pearl happens to subscribe to. Who knows? Maybe Daniel Pearl did as well.

  • I wonder if the butchers screamed “Die, you filthy avowed humanist!” or “Go to nothingness, you secular agnostic!” or even “Take that Danny-boy” as they slit his throat?

    Marianne has demeaned Daniel Pearl; The film has demeaned Muslims (Oh! yes! saying they murdered him over Iraq is not telling the truth!) and, of course, the Jolie-Pitts have demeaned everything they’v touched!

  • Heh. This is why we have a comments section. I for one am looking forward to seeing the film, but I always appreciate the pre-film buzz. In fact, film makers love it too as it increases interest.

    Shtreimel: When did you become so grumpy?
    Offri: Why so harsh??

    I don’t know, I mean pre-film discussions are fun. Why is this causing so much enmity?

  • ofri,
    Jews with pride in their identity almost never marry out, and Jew serious about their religion can’t.

  • I hope nobody thinks I was putting down poor Anne Frank, one of the best writers of the past century and a galant soul. She will be read when nobody remembers Gide, Kerouac or Salinger.

    This week’s parsha is about marrying out and it is not recommended. But people should be happy with their destinies and eat their vegetables.

  • ofri – I am sorry that I have offended you. If first hand knowledge is needed before we can comment on events, or reference others comments about events than the much of what appears in books might not have been written.

  • avi: i have pride in my identity and i’m not serious about religion. The person closest to Daniel Pearl has made it pretty clear that he wasn’t that “serious” about religion either. Do you make a habit of filling complete strangers in on the complexities of their identities?

    ck: was i too harsh? sorry. i have a bit of a temper, and little patience for people who flaunt their idiocy. you’ve been there, right?

  • “Shtreimel: When did you become so grumpy?”

    CK…we give our rabbi’s a “free pass” when they do really silly things – such as this post – but God forbid an Immam or Priest does something similar…whoo boy, the anti-Semetism/anti-Israel labels start flying.

    We knew each while I worked for the community. While I was there, I learned the following lesson:
    1) Be nice to your funders
    2) Tell ’em whatever they want to hear
    3) Buffer their guilt by planning activities THEY think will help young people avoid what happened to them (it’s all unconcious of course…they believe they turned out fine)
    4) Unless you enjoy being on the dole, do not voice dissent…ever.

    Well I’m free of that shit, so it’s liberating to be “so grumpy”.

  • Rabbi Yonah – no apology necessary. ck seems to think I was too harsh with you, so if I offended you, I apologize. I’d hardly call the release of this movie an “event.”
    Generally speaking, I don’t think it’s wise to comment on or even form opinions about an accessible piece of public discourse without first opening yourself up to it. I’m not urging you to see the movie. It is well acted and interesting, but I don’t think it will be remembered past the awards season, if that long. I’m just saying that in your place, I would have reserved my judgment.

    It’s one thing to comment on WWII or the Scopes Monkey Trial based on reliable accounts of those events. It’s another thing entirely to attach yourself to someone else’s opinion about a widely accessible piece of media with no real way of knowing what you’re criticizing.

  • Middle,
    your right , pure BS.
    Intermarriage is not a reflection of ones lack of Jewish committment, nor is it the sine qua non of assimmilation.
    Secular people intermarry as much as frummies.
    Intermarried people go to shul just as much as inmarried, visit Israel and make aliya as much as inmarried.
    Half of n-b-n are intermarried.
    Intermarrid people march in the Israeli day parade as much as inmarried. They put on tefillin and frequent kosher restaurants just as much as inmarried.
    And they have just as many Jewish kids as inmarried.

  • Avi, you wrote “Jews with pride in their identity almost never marry out, and Jew serious about their religion can’t.” Both are false assertions. Pure BS.

  • middle,
    observant Jews have 613 reasons we can’t marry out. How is that BS?

  • ofri: Yes I have flaunted my idiocy many times. But Rabbi Yo, unlike me, is like one of the gentlest, kindest people I know (not counting Muffti when he’s tripping on E. In theory. Cuz Prof. Muffti has never done that – shut up Dave, shut up!). I mean Rabbi Yo titled his post with a question mark and quoted one very prominent industry sources. So what are we supposed to do? Ignore that? I don’t think he demonstrated idiocy at all. Remember, Rabbi Yo has had direct contact with CAIR and its supporters in California. It’s rough to hear people say that all Zionists are Nazis one day (which I witnessed) and then have their supporters show up at a movie about Daniel Pearl with their crocodile tears. There was enough factual information reported in this post to possibly justify offense. We may debate that, but we ought never imply that a Rabbi who was also a Fullbright scholar, might be an idiot.

    Shtreimel: Rabbi Yo’s post was not silly. Furthermore, no one here is indebted to anyone. We get no community funding for this blog. We say and do whatever we like and are beholden to no one. What’s wrong with being offended by the presence of virulently anti-Israel organizations participating in a screening whose theme was religious tolerance? I think good people would be equally offended if KACH was invited to the screening as well, because just as KACH is not about religious tolerance, neither are some of the anti-Israel groups who were invited to the event in question. I mean, let’s cut the crap. What does it mean to you when someone calls all Zionists and supporters of Israel Nazis? It means that most Jews are in fact Nazis. Nice eh? I am pretty sure there’s a word for that… but it slipped my mind. Let me know what that word is if you ever figure it out.

    avi: I really enjoyed your response. Can’t wait to hear what the reply will be.

  • Oh, when you said “Jew serious about their religion” you meant “observant Jews who keep 613 mitzvot?” Is that also what you meant by “Jews with pride in their identity?”

  • “Jews with pride in their identity?”

    People who are traditional, but not frum( or even colse to it) but, are very active Jews. Unfrotunately a dieing breed.
    Obviusly my original post made a distinction between traditional and strongly Jewish and those who are observant.
    As stated the former hardly marry out, and the latter can’t. I figured “can’t ” would be self-explanatory. My apologies if it wasn’t.
    Sadly , the former has not figured out how to pass the third generation test.

  • CK…
    My rant had more to do with with the Steinhardt vs. Steinstaltz debate.

    With respect to Rabbi Yonah’s post, I defer to Ofri’s comment:
    “but I’m really not interested in anyone’s opinion on this particular topic who hasn’t bothered to see the movie.”

  • Avi, lots of committed Jews marry out. It happens one day when you accidentally meet somebody special and you realize that this person is your match.

    We used to welcome such spouses into the fold when they converted, but then zealots such as you ruined it all with a quest for unattainable standards and with nonsensical but strongly stated provocations. That alienated and drove away both the non-Jewish and the Jewish members of the couple since people don’t like to be told they or their spouse are not good enough.

    Who would want to join extremists and zealots? Who among those who already lean in that direction wouldn’t want to escape?

    I’ll tell you what. You focus on making Judaism a welcoming place for those within and without and then you can talk about assimilation. Okay?

    With some apprehension,
    A Proud Secular Jew

  • Another Proud Secular Jew agrees with middle!!!

    (and I do have a Jewish girlfriend… and that’s Eretz Israel to thank!!!)

  • So. Off. Topic.

    But this is what we have come to. This topic deserves its own thread.

  • I will. And I don’t really believe you adequately responded to post #69. I mean feel free to ignore the rest of Avi’s comments but that one rally nailed it I think. Avi’s talking about broad societal trends and you’re focusing on individual exceptions. You may be right on the individual level, I’ll even say you are absolutely right, but on a broader level Avi is right. Intermarriage overall has had a devastating effect on Judaism. Am I wrong?

  • Write a post and we’ll discuss it. In fact, we can borrow some of the comments here to launch the discussion.

  • Intermarriage overall has had a devastating effect on Judaism. Am I wrong?


    Sure, it’s a on the list of problems facing the Jewish people; right after about 100 other things indescribably more important. It is virtually the only priority, on the other hand, among those fanatics who have embraced the Animal Husbandry school of Judaism, and for whom being a conscientious Jew couldn’t be more simple. No need to worry about that “light unto the nations” crap; no need to struggle with the nature of God’s will or countless other spiritual dilemmas. No need to concern oneself with the purpose of ritual in a world utterly transformed by technology, or the inherent moral conflicts attendant to the restoration of the State of Israel. Nope; the only really essential parts of Judaism are counting the dust mites on a head of lettuce and increasing the herd.

    “Devastating?” There are 13 million Jews in the world today, and there has never been a time in history when Jewish demographic security has been more assured.

  • Middle,
    I am sorry to disappoint you but traditionally conversion for sake of marriage was not considered to be a valid reason for conversion.
    Recently, rabbis have become more lenient but nevertheless marriage coversions often last as long as the marriage.
    Its foolish to pretnd that people leave the fold because they are rejected after they intermarry. They left the fold by intermarrying.
    Largely the people who do it are nominally Jewish to begin with, yes there are individual excptions , but the outlier does not affect the mean.
    Intermarrige does not cause assimilation it is a reflection of it. When 70% of non Ortho Jews are marrying out I think that is a problem. Although when people like Adam Shapiro do . I think that is great.

  • Intermarriage overall has had a devastating effect on Judaism. Am I wrong?

    It’s funny, how quick we are to blame people who have grown up disenfranchised from Judaism for intermarrying. I haven’t, so far, seen any sweeping indictments of parents who couldn’t be bothered to take their kids to shul (it’s at the same time as ice skating!), have no idea how to celebrate Shabbat, holidays, etc., think bagels are a reasonable substitute for observance, sent their kids to local day camps because they hated the Jewish kids at the camps they went to as kids, ate gefilte fish from jars for the two days of Pesach they “observed”, upgraded their Fiddler on the Roof VHS tapes to DVD as soon as it came out (to preserve the culture!) and have at least one kitschy painting of a crying shtetl rabbi on the dining room wall (just described my own family growing up).

    Any surprise that I intermarried? Was it my fault? My parents’? My grandparents’ (the ones who dropped the ball in the first place)?

    Ironically, my husband converted a while back (on his own, no pushing from me) and we have a lefty- orthodox household with kids who feel comfortable being religious and being out in the “regular” world. Who says intermarriage is all bad? 😉

  • C-G: Did I assign blame on anyone? Or anything? Did I say that those who intermarry are bad people? Did I even say that all intermarriage is bad?? No. But on a societal level it’s bad… please don’t put words in my mouth!

    Speaking of which…

    david smith: Once again… did I say that intermarriage was the cause? Or is it merely a symptom of a larger problem? American Jewish life was hit by a devastating one-two punch. The large migration of Jews from Europe in the 1800s was done largely with little rabbinic accompaniment. American Jewry evolved to a large degree with little religious influence. People who left the shtetl to go to America were considered lost and Rabbis discouraged their disciples from going to the Golden Medinah. This continued all the way into WWII when even despite advance notice of what was up, religious communities refused to leave for the relative safety of America. By the time the Holocaust was over, an entire world of Torah Geniuses was eviscerated. Torah Judaism took a huge hit and its no wonder that many of our Rabbis are intellectual midgets when compared to those we had lost.

    I mean read the first paragraphs of Heschel’s book “God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism” – it’s all there! I don’t blame individuals for intermarrying, I posit the blame squarely at the feet of our uninspired leadership who have allowed conventional Judaism to evolve into what it is today – a dry, uninteresting, overly dogmatic way of life that has lost site of it’s very raison d’etre. Obsessed with Antisemitism, the Holocaust and the continued survival of the State of Israel, Judaism has become morbid and unsurprisingly uninteresting. As Heschel stated:

    It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion—its message becomes meaningless.

    It’s not enough to tell people they shouldn’t intermarry. They should also understand what it is they are imperiling and why it’s worth protecting, even to the point of sacrificing individual desire. So there. NOW you can quote me.

  • ck, i didn’t call Rabbi Yonah an idiot. I said that something he wrote was idiotic. I didn’t imply that you flaunt your idiocy, but that you frequently lose your patience with people that you perceive as idiots. I have written some pretty idiotic things in my life, probably in the annals of this blog. If everyone reads defensively, one must ask what the point of a discussion like this really is.
    I never challenged Rabbi Yonah’s character, only his judgment in one particular moment. Ok, so there’s a question mark in the title. Fine. Read the lead paragraph. “Farce.” “Whitewash.” So he played it safe by sticking an “apparently” in there. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where Rabbi Yonah was coming from at the time that he wrote this post.
    I am not offended. Not even close. I don’t wish to cause offense to anyone else. If I say something truly inappropriate, you can let me know and I’ll reconsider. This is a forum for discussion, not sensitivity training.
    You can tell a topic has run its course when the discussion deteriorates (yet again) into a series of screeds on the devastating effects of intermarriage.

  • By the bye, I wasn’t referring to Rabbi Yonah when I referenced people who flaunt their idiocy. I was thinking more of such gems as the suggestion that calling someone a Buddhist necessarily implies that the one in question is Asian, or that Jews who intermarry have no pride in their identity.

  • This is a wonderful thread. Posts 74 and 86 are particularly fabulous. You are all wonderful people.

  • Nobody wakes up in the morning, does 613 commandments, and then goes off to work.

  • ck,
    86 great post. You can also add that today’s religious community is dominated by Holocaust refugees, as they are the survivors of the rabbinic community of E. Europe. Also it is no coincidence that the struggle for Soviet Jewry was dominated by the first generation of Holocaust survivors, and not the fourth generation of American who came with the Fiddler wave.

    Many of my relatives married out. They were raised secular or nominally Jewish. If I weren’t observant perhaps I’d go for a beautiful Japanese women that would cater to me.
    For a secular person why should they marry Jewish?

    Its true that the most predisposed Jews to having gentile grandkids dominated immigration in the early 1900’s.

  • JM #91

    Your point reminded me of an observation made by an anti-chabad rabbi years ago-
    “If you drive through Bensonhurst 11AM (an Italian neighborhood) during the week you’ll see nobody because they’re all working.
    In Bedstuy erevyone hangs out on the street because they’re not working and the same applies to Crown Heights.
    Not PC , but it made me laugh at the time

  • ck,

    I think your being too sensitive about my comments (and, I suspect, C-G’s). Much.

    I quoted your truncated comment about the ostensible devastation of intermarriage as shorthand way of illustrating the position of what I’ve described as the Animal Husbandry school. My observations had nothing to do with the rest of what you’d written, or, frankly, with what I think your beliefs are. Indeed, reading your subsequent comment is deeply frustrating; one can only imagine how much more productive a discussion of such issues as intermarriage and Jewish identity might be if it were held at that level of thoughtfulness and sophistication. It makes me think that I damn well should be spending my time seeking out Heschel if I hope to gain any meaningful insight into the issue, rather than spending my time on petty and largely sterile internet squabbles.

    But the truth is that I think the squabbles may be less irredeemably pointless than they seem; specifically, I think the character of the conflicts often reflect the introduction of truly toxic ideas and forces into the world in which these discussions take place. One is the growth of what I regard as the most profoundly destructive plague to afflict the Jewish People since millions of us were herded into gas chambers: Cult Jewism. While there is a good deal of complexity and vagueness in deciding what constitutes the phenomenon, there is at least one characteristic that is uniform, predictable and absolutely unchanging: the attempt to subvert the legitimacy of the religion practiced by a substantial majority of the world’s Jews. That subversion is always expressed as variations of the following: “Reform and Conservative Judaism is a made-up religion for people who are worried what the goys think and want to have Christmas trees. Their “rabbis” are morally degenerate heretics who will do anything for money.” Etc., etc., etc.

    Another example of toxic ideology polluting the Jewish world is a persistent strain of political fanaticism. Incredibly, this thread began with a discussion of an evaluation of the Daniel Pearl movie by Debbie Schussel. DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL!
    Schlussel isn’t just a run-of-the-mill ugly bigot; she’s the Jewish Ann Coulter, but without the wit, charm, or feminine delicacy. I recall one of her particularly endearing posts from a couple a months ago, which just about wholly consisted of “nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger.” She had written an especially baseless entry from a day or few previous, in which she first broke the “true story” that the Virginia Tech shooter was a “Paki” (as well, of course, as the accusation that the media had covered up that fact because of how much they love the terrorists, want them to conquer the United States, and put all the Jews and Christians in concentration camps.) Not surprisingly, that post has now been removed from the site with the following comment: “I’ve removed this entry, mostly because I am spending too much time monitoring the slimy comments from the Nazi-infested Media Matters for America cretins. (Upon seeing that, I immediately sent a nice contribution to Media Matters.) In response to several comments pointing out that “Paki” is a vile and deeply offensive racial slur, she wrote a sneering post some days later in which she simply repeated it again and again.

    The long and short of the matter is that Debbie Schlussel is a stupid, vicious, lying, malignant, hateful monster; the fact that she could be seen as a legitimate source of information by anyone in the Jewish community is deeply disturbing.

  • Those groups are anti-Israel because they are relentless in portraying Israel as an evil place, of bad people and crimes against humanity.

    Just checked the PCU website. Nothing “relentless” there in the handful of posts that mention Israel. There’s one long post (with a legitimate criticism at the end) that takes Israel to task – but the clear goal of the piece is peace and security for Israel as well as for Palestinians.

    MPAC’s obviously a different story but it explicitly recognizes Israel and endorses a two-state solution. That’s the ballgame; the rest is politics.

    of course if you think Israel is that bad, well, then I guess they are nice folks with peace on the brain.

    I’ve met most of their people. They are “nice folks with peace on the brain.” That doesn’t make them anti-Israel. Critics, certainly, and sometimes no-holds-barred, but not deniers.

  • wow. this is a lot fo talk for a movie. To be honest this was the only movie I have ever in my life cried- sobbed- in. It was done very well and definitely did not hide Daniel’s Judaism. There was a part when his wife warned the police he was Jewish and in that scene there was no doubt the pivotal role it played in this tragic event. I saw it will a theare full of Jews at a pro-Israel event and we all agreed- you should see this movie. It shows how dangerous it is to simply be a Jew.

  • “The long and short of the matter is that Debbie Schlussel is a stupid, vicious, lying, malignant, hateful monster; the fact that she could be seen as a legitimate source of information by anyone in the Jewish community is deeply disturbing.”

    Yes David, I’m in complete agreement (see #53) and that’s a good basis for entering into this discussion.