Skip Navigation
White House Ceremony Honors Daniel Pearl, Son of UCLA Professor
A menorah belonging to the great-grandfather of Daniel Pearl was lit by UCLA Professor Judea and Ruth Pearl during festivities Monday, Dec. 10, 2007, in the Grand Foyer of the White House. (White House photos by Joyce N. Boghosian)

White House Ceremony Honors Daniel Pearl, Son of UCLA Professor

Following their son's death in 2002, Judea Pearl, a professor of computer science at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA, and his wife formed the Daniel Pearl Foundation to advance the ideals that inspired Daniel's life and work by hosting lectures, programs and other events throughout the world to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and innovative communications.

The world is in dire need of an icon of peace, and we Americans have much to gain from an icon that mirrors our national instinct for international outreach, dialogue and friendship.

This article was first published in UCLA Today Online.

At a White House reception Dec. 10 to observe Hanukkah, President George Bush thanked Judea and Ruth Pearl, parents of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, for their award-winning work to bring together people from different cultures in memory of their son.

Following their son's death in 2002, Judea Pearl, a professor of computer science at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA, and his wife formed the Daniel Pearl Foundation to advance the ideals that inspired Daniel's life and work by hosting lectures, programs and other events throughout the world to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and innovative communications. A special lecture is given annually in Daniel Pearl's honor for the UCLA campus community.

At the reception, the Pearls lit candles on a menorah that once belonged to Chayim Pearl, Daniel's great-grandfather, who brought it to Israel from Poland in 1924. The menorah stayed lit at the White House until the end of Hanukkah on Dec. 11.

While reporting in Pakistan in 2002, Pearl was kidnapped by terrorists and murdered. The Zamir Chorale entertained during the lighting of the menorah.

"His only crime was being a Jewish American — something Daniel Pearl would never deny," Bush said. "In his final moments, Daniel told his captors about a street in Israel named for his great-grandfather. He looked into their camera, and he said, 'My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, and I'm Jewish.' These words have become a source of inspiration for Americans of all faiths. They show the courage of a man who refused to bow before terror — and the strength of a spirit that could not be broken."

The White House Hanukkah celebration took place in the shadow of the Nov. 27 Annapolis Summit meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Before the candle lighting ceremony, the Pearls joined the President in a meeting with 15 representatives of Jewish communities from around the world to discuss religious discrimination and freedom and to mark International Human Rights Day.

"We were extremely impressed by how well informed and genuinely interested the president was in dealing with the myriad of problems that delegates presented to him from around the globe," said Professor Pearl. "One issue, of which he admitted to be somewhat unaware and which he promised to seriously consider in future negotiations on refugee settlement, was the expulsion and dispossession of 850,000 Jews from Arab countries in the early 1950's — my wife was one of them."

Bush thanked the Pearls for their work on behalf of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

"Daniel's memory remains close to our hearts," Bush said. "Those who knew him best remember a gifted writer who loved the violin, and made friends wherever he went. We're honored that Daniel's parents — Ruth and Judea — have joined us today. We thank them for their work on behalf of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. ... It's a fitting tribute to Daniel's lifelong pursuit of truth and tolerance."

Said Pearl, "Ruth and I were very pleased when the president acknowledged the legacy of our son Daniel as a source of inspiration for Americans of all faiths. The world is in dire need of an icon of peace, and we Americans have much to gain from an icon that mirrors our national instinct for international outreach, dialogue and friendship."

To print this page, select "Print" from the File menu of your browser.