Michael Shurkin
Radical Evil: Bernard-Henri LÚvy on the Murder of Daniel Pearl, p. 3

But why exactly did Omar and those connected to him, from the ISI to Al Qaeda, want Daniel Pearl dead? LÚvy concluded that they murdered him because of a combination of reasons. First, because he was a journalist. LÚvy had found that official Pakistanis and radical Pakistanis alike could not grasp the idea of an independent journalist, and thus found the American-Jewish journalist intrinsically threatening; they could not believe that he could be anything other than an agent of the Mossad and the CIA. Second, because he was an American. LÚvy had learned from his conversations in that part of the world that hatred of America was such that one could not admit to the possibility that all Americans were not all alike. They were all evil, they were all guilty, they were all open targets. In such an environment, no one cared what Daniel Pearl thought, said, or wrote about America and the world. He was guilty by birth. LÚvy comments:

Pearl died for being an American in a country where to be an American is a sin that is not unlike, in the rhetoric that stigmatizes him, the sin of being Jewish. Pearl was the victim of that other vile stupidity called anti-Americanism that makes one, in the eyes of these neo-fascists that are the Islamicists, a reject, a sub-human to eliminate. American, thus bad. America, or Evil. The old Western anti-Americanism crossed with that of these fanatics of God. The rancid hatred of our PÚtainists, restyled for the Third World and the wretched of the Earth. I finished this book at a very precise moment. I had in my ear, in that instant, the planetary clamor that made of America a region not of the world but of the spirit, and the darkest. It is better to live as a serf under Saddam than to be free thanks to Bush, claimed the planetary mob. One can, like me, refuse the war wanted by Bush and find this clamor nonetheless abject. Daniel Pearl died because of it.
(p. 460)

And then there is the third reason why Pearl died: because he was a Jew. He was a Jew in a country where Judaism is not a religion or even an identity but a crime and a sin. LÚvy argues that Pearl was a victim of "modern anti-Semitism," that, "without renouncing any of the old clichÚs . . . reintegrates them in a system where the very name of Israel has become synonymous with all the worst in this world." This new anti-Semitism, LÚvy writes:
makes of the real Jew the face of crime (the IDF), of genocide (the theme, popular since Durban and even before, of the massacre of Palestinians), of the desire to falsify (the Holocaust as a lie intended to mask the realty of Jewish power). From Durban to Bnei Brak, the new clothing of hatred. From "one Jew one bullet," called out by certain NGO representatives at Durban, to the Yemenite knife that operated the real murder of Daniel Pearl, a logical consequence. Daniel Pearl is dead, victim of a neo-anti-Judaism that is emerging before our eyes. . . One hears less and less that Jews are detestable in the name of Christ, the anti-Christ, or the purity of blood, this is what I believe. We are in the process of seeing a new formulation, a new way of justifying the worst that, a little like in the time of our own Dreyfus Affair, but now at a global scale, associates the hatred of Jews with the defense of the oppressed. . . (p. 462)

Finally, there is a fourth reason, which complicates everything, and of which LÚvy is less admittedly less certain. LÚvy speculates that Daniel Pearl died because he knew too much; specifically, he had uncovered certain secrets that none of the parties involved in his murder, specifically the ISI and Al Qaeda, could afford to let Pearl publicize. After carefully retracing Daniel Pearl's last steps, LÚvy hypothesizes that he had uncovered hard evidence that Pakistan had assisted Bin Laden with his attempts to acquire the technology to make nuclear weapons. The evidence he presents, though far from conclusive, certainly gives one pause for thought.

LÚvy is convinced that what he encountered in Pakistan was nothing less than evil, a word he does not shy away from. Unlike so many European intellectuals, moreover, he does not scoff at Bush's rhetoric of "rogue states" and an "axis of evil." "I affirm," he declares near the end of his book, "that Pakistan is the most roguish of the rogue states today." "I affirm," he continues,
there what is forming there between Islamabad and Karachi is a veritable black hole in comparison to which the Baghdad of Saddam Hussein was a depot of worn-out weaponsůThere is floating around, in these cities, the odor of apocalypse; and it is, I am convinced, what Danny had smelled.
(p. 525)

BHL characterizes the evil he encountered in Pakistan in language similar to that of Arendt, while sharing her reticence to actually define what evil is in itself. There are clear similarities: both Nazis and jihadists were interested in going beyond law in the name of some transcendent truth.. They also did not want to share the earth with certain types of people, whole categories defined more often than not by birth rather then actions or belief. And they wanted to kill Jews.

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August 2003

Radical Evil: Bernard Henry Levy on
the death of Daniel Pearl
Michael Shurkin

Trembling Before You
Matthue Roth

What is Burning Man?
Jay Michaelson

Chanel Dubofsky

Abraham Mezrich

Josh Calls His New Roommate
Josh Ring

Zeek in Print
Buy online here

David Stromberg

About Zeek

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From previous issues: Zionism and Colonialism
Michael Shurkin

The Red-Green Alliance
Dave Hyde