In his widely quoted memorial address for Daniel Pearl at an Upper West Side synagogue, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said, "not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one." But that's only the part that's getting all the attention.
Rauf, of course, is the man behind the proposed Ground Zero mosque. He's recently come under further scrutiny, mainly because of his controversial project, that's revealed certain immoderate statements from the imam. Daniel Pearl was a Wall Street Journal journalist who was murdered by Islamist extremists Pakistan.
But here is a clip of Rauf's memorial speech of Pearl, which should now have particular resonance:
O Lord! Today we have come to pray for the soul of Daniel Pearl, who lost his life in the name of religious difference. We have also come to fulfill the spirit of the prayer of his father Judea Pearl made -- in an op-ed piece in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, (and I paraphrase) -- for a "multi-faith statement against intolerance (of any against any) on the basis of religion, towards a unifying global spirit of the day that will serve as catalysts for building alliances against the rising tide of fanaticism, dehumanization and xenophobia."
This message, from Rauf to Judea Pearl, with the former aiming to fulfill the prayer of the latter, is striking. Because here's the message Judea has for Rauf:
Pearl told JTA that while he was “touched” by Rauf’s appearance and speech at his son’s memorial, “many Muslim leaders offered their condolences at the time.” More to the point, Pearl said he is discouraged that the Muslim leadership has not followed through on what he hoped would come from his son's death.
“At the time, I truly believed Danny’s murder would be a turning point in the reaction of the civilized world toward terrorism,” said Pearl, who engages in public conversations with Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic studies professor at American University, on behalf of the Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding. The established Muslim leadership in the United States, Pearl said, “has had nine years to build up trust by pro-actively resisting anti-American ideologies of victimhood, anger and entitlement. Reactions to the mosque project indicate that they were not too successful in this endeavor."
He views the controversy to be a vote of no confidence in the organized Muslim leadership, not specifically against Rauf.
“If I were [New York] Mayor Bloomberg I would reassert their right to build the mosque, but I would expend the same energy trying to convince them to put it somewhere else,” he said. “Public reaction tells us that it is not the right time, and that it will create further animosity and division in this country.”
Pearl, like most Americans, it seems, just doesn't think this is the right time or the right place for the mosque.
Also worth reading: Nat Hentoff on the Ground Zero mosque.