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Sunday, June 24, 2007

'A Mighty Heart' sent away with a whimper

I haven't seen A Mighty Heart, the new movie about Daniel Pearl, and after reading three different reviews this weekend I'm not sure I want to. Only one of the reviewers captured what I believe to be the essence of Daniel Pearl's murder (and the movie clearly did not): Daniel Pearl HY"D was murdered because he was a Jew. It's that simple, but the world seems unable to say it.

One reviewer was perceptive enough to note that 'Danny' was among those missing from the movie and to note that "Danny's last moments [shown in the movie without the beheading. CiJ], as he declared his Jewishness for his kidnappers' video camera, showed his strength of character"; another didn't even notice that. It should be noted that the reviewer who noticed that "Danny" was missing from the movie was his Wall Street Journal colleague and Karachi host Asra Q. Nomani, who takes the movie makers to task for their shallowness:
But recasting a story just so we can tell ourselves that we've found a hero is too easy. It's the quickest way to convince ourselves that what happened wasn't such a bad thing, that it had redeeming value, that we can close the book on it and move on with our lives. We do it too often -- with television shows about ordinary people with extraordinary powers, with magazine features that extol the "heroes among us" and with our impulse to elevate every story -- think Jessica Lynch, ambushed and wounded in Iraq -- to one of heroism.

For me, "A Mighty Heart" and all the hype surrounding it have only underscored how cheap and manufactured our quest for heroism has become. Paramount even launched an "ordinary hero" contest to promote the movie. "Nominate the most inspiring ordinary hero," its Web site shouts. "Win a trip to the Bahamas!"

Lost in the PR machine and the heroism hoopla is Danny, whose death is at the center of the story. After all, as one person involved in the production candidly told me: Danny can't do interviews. So in the Associated Press review, he amounts to nothing more than a parenthetical phrase.
Nomani is right, but he misses the reason 'Danny' was murdered - because he was a Jew. It's up to Crittenden to capture that:
I reflect that tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions don’t give a damn that Daniel Pearl had his head sawn off, and may figure that as an American Jew related to Israelis, he had it coming. I further reflect that the videotape of Daniel Pearl talking about his Jewish roots and having his throat slit is gripping footage, more so than any Hollywood output I can think of and I’d hazard, more so than anything in this film. One of the more chilling and horrific things I’ve witnessed, and I have some acquaintance with horrible and meaningless death.
Gripping footage - absolutely. But probably too much for Hollywood or the average moviegoer to handle. And that's a pity. Because the movie makes you walk away with the feeling that Danny Pearl was a random target. He wasn't.


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Pearl's murder was a trajedy, but was it a kiddush hashem?
Was he any more a Jewish hero than Edith Stein?
Does he deserve any more attention than other Jews killed by Islamo Nazis?
I think not.
He may have been born Jewish , and he may have died because he was Jewish , but what about his Jewishness in between.
He was the son of secular yordim and he did not live a very Jewish life and married a shiksa.
I'm sorry but many Jews who were paragons of Jewishness have been murdered. What about the Petual(I think that's correct) family.
I think its reprehensible how his family has exploited his death. That book "Iam a Jew" with testimonies from intermarried non-Jewish Jews. What a shonda!
Yes he may have been a Jew , but if he cared about his Jewishness his wife and child would be.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Mich said...

You wrote: Nomani is right, but he misses the reason. Please note that Asra Q Nomani is female, not male.

As for the previous commenter's views, I was always taught that kiddush hashem in our times applies whenever a Jew is killed because she or he is Jewish. Period.

At 3:06 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

#2 ,
if you can cite the rabbinical source and it's legit , I'll take back my first statement.
So Edith Stein's death was a kiddush hashem?
What about Nicholas Berg's? Perhaps if Berg's father were media savvy we'd hear more.
It was not as if Pearl had a choice ala The Inquisition. Many opted out by a conversion. If he married out, I'm sure he would not have hesitated to swear allegiance to allah to save his life.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I'm not in a position to cite sources (I'm in the US now - no sforim at hand), but I know that I have also heard that anyone who is killed because he is a Jew is deemed to have died al Kiddush Hashem (sanctifying God's name).


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