Accompanying him on the trip was his wife, Mariane, who was five months pregnant with their first child, and who later was portrayed by Angelina Jolie in the 2007 film “A Mighty Heart” dramatizing their ordeal.
Daniel Pearl never replied to his mother’s email, and he never returned from what was to be an interview with a Muslim cleric with supposed ties to Richard C. Reid, the “shoe bomber,” whose attempt to blow up an airplane over the Atlantic was foiled. Pearl was abducted, held for nine days and then beheaded on videotape. “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish,” he said in some of his final recorded words.
Mrs. Pearl, who died July 20 at 85, was originally from Iraq, a member of the Jewish community that had existed there for centuries. In 1941, at age 5, she survived a deadly attack on the Jews of Baghdad, a pogrom known as the Farhud that sprang in part from the antisemitism coursing across Nazi Europe.
Mrs. Pearl drew a link between the ideology that helped bring about the Farhud and the religious extremism that drove the men who kidnapped and killed her son.
“Dehumanizing people is the first step to inviting violence, like Nazism and fascism,” she said in an oral history for the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California.
“I’m sure the killers of Danny didn’t have any sense of identifying with the humanity that connects us. For them, Danny was an object. And that can happen only if you really don’t have your own self-respect and your own respect for human beings. So we have to figure ways to educate the next generation differently.”
After her son’s death, Mrs. Pearl joined her husband, the eminent computer scientist Judea Pearl, in establishing the Daniel Pearl Foundation, an organization that seeks to promote cross-cultural understanding, especially through journalism and music, two of their son’s passions in life.
“The last time I saw my son, Danny, he was walking away from me, carrying his violin on his shoulder,” Mrs. Pearl told an NPR interviewer in 2004. “He had traveled all the way from Mumbai, India, to Van Nuys, California, for a reunion of the youth orchestra with which he played as a child. That memory I have of Danny is the essence of who he was.”
From the moment her son disappeared, Mrs. Pearl devoted herself to ensuring Daniel’s safety and then, when that was lost, “creating a new reality” in his memory, said Asra Q. Nomani, a colleague who was in Karachi with Mariane Pearl at the time of Daniel’s abduction and who later co-founded Georgetown University’s Pearl Project, an investigative journalism initiative that examined Pearl’s killing.
Mrs. Pearl described the foundation’s work, which included sponsoring fellowships that allowed Muslim journalists from around the world to work in U.S. media organizations, as a “survival technique.”
Appearing on NBC News shortly after Daniel was killed, she said that “we couldn’t survive if we didn’t have some kind of goal, some kind of legacy for Danny to continue his work, even after his death.”
Eveline Rejwan — she took the Hebrew name Ruth after leaving Iraq for Israel — was born in Baghdad on Nov. 10, 1935. Her father owned a prosperous import business and tailoring studio, and her mother, also a seamstress, was a homemaker.
Mrs. Pearl and her siblings grew up in a largely Muslim neighborhood, where their Muslim friends helped protect them during the Farhud by telling an approaching mob that there were “no Jews here.”
During the pogrom, which began on June 1, 1941, between 150 and 180 Jews were killed, 600 more were injured and an “undetermined” number of women were raped, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. In an interview with Diarna, an online museum of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish life, Mrs. Pearl recalled hiding from gunshots in a cellar.
Antisemitic violence persisted in Iraq, she told the Shoah Foundation, recalling the bodies of Jews accused of being communists or Zionists hanging in public squares. She joined a Zionist youth group and, with her family, participated in a mass migration to the new state of Israel in 1951.
She was in a refugee camp there when she learned that a brother had died fighting in the Israeli army in a border clash. Years later, Mrs. Pearl would recall her grief as she contemplated the sadness of her daughters when their brother, Daniel, was killed.
Mrs. Pearl was studying at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa when she met her future husband. One of the few women in her class, she received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1960.
The Pearls married that year and moved to the United States, where Mrs. Pearl received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from what is now the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The couple later moved to Princeton, N.J., and then to California, where Mrs. Pearl worked for many years as a software analyst.
Judea Pearl, a longtime professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, received the 2011 Turing Award, an honor known as the Nobel Prize of computing. He said in an interview that Mrs. Pearl died at their home in Encino, Calif., and that she had pulmonary ailments unrelated to covid-19.
Besides her husband, survivors include two daughters, Michelle Pearl and Tamara Pearl; a sister; and five grandchildren.
Mrs. Pearl and her husband helped publish two books in memory of their son — “At Home in the World” (2002) edited by Helene Cooper, a compilation of his writing for the Journal, and “I Am Jewish” (2004), with reflections by figures including Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Israeli statesman Shimon Peres inspired by Daniel Pearl’s final words.
In July 2002, a British-born militant, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, was convicted with three accomplices in Pakistan in Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder. Sheikh was sentenced to death but remained in prison during an appeals process that continued until April 2020, when a regional court overturned the convictions.
In response, the Pearls filed a motion with the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Seated next to her husband, Mrs. Pearl appeared in an online video directed at the Pakistani public, explaining their campaign on behalf of their son.
Already suffering from conditions affecting her lungs and vocal cords, Mrs. Pearl appeared weak. But still she spoke, for as long as her strength allowed.
After greeting viewers in Arabic, she introduced herself in English as the mother of Daniel Pearl. “There’s not a single day,” she said, “that we don’t miss our son.”
In January, Pakistan’s Supreme Court rejected the Pearls’ motion and ordered the release of Sheikh and his accomplices. Judea Pearl, in his wife’s absence, will continue to fight the ruling, Nomani said.
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