The Chosen One

Journalist Daniel Pearl Was Killed for Being a Jew

As is always the case, Pakistan's anti-Semitism exists in a vacuum; with the exception of the tiny elite who had traveled abroad, no one I knew had actually met a Jew—there simply aren't any in Pakistan. Of the country's 140 million inhabitants, 98 percent are Muslim, the remainder Christians and Sikhs. In a country where perhaps three-quarters of the population is illiterate, people take their cues from their religious leaders and politicians. Few understand the difference between Israel's hawks and doves, or the nuances and differences of opinion between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, American Jews and Israeli Jews. In an uneducated population, where groupthink is the norm (often, a dozen people would converge on a reporter after a rally spouting identical positions, right down to the wording), groupthink is assumed in the enemy.

In such a climate, Daniel Pearl's kidnappers stripped him of his humanity; the funny, creative, fiddle-playing husband and father-to-be is lost. It is replaced with the enemy, the other, the Jew.

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