Jewish Journal

Community Briefs

by Journal Staff

Posted on May. 16, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Pearl's Father Receives Science Award

The father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, still battling his grief, accepted a high scientific award in London on May 9, and donated the $15,000 prize money to a foundation established to perpetuate his son's ideals.

Dr. Judea Pearl of Encino received the Lakatos Award, conferred by the London School of Economics for outstanding contributions to the philosophy of science. The UCLA computer scientist was honored for his book "Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference," an analysis of statistics, artificial intelligence and probability theory.

"My family and I have gone through the worst of times in the past few months," the Israel-born professor said at the award ceremony. "My son, Daniel, was abducted and murdered in Pakistan earlier this year, and until two weeks ago, I was not sure whether I could muster the strength to come and accept this honor.

"Danny would have encouraged me to go ahead with the lecture as planned, in symbolic defiance of his murderers' attempt to spread fear and despair across the globe."

The Daniel Pearl Foundation (www.danielpearl.org) was established to promote greater cross-cultural understanding throughout the world and perpetuate the principles of the slain journalist. The month of May brought his parents other reminders of their son's lasting impact, Pearl observed in a conversation. He recalled that President Bush, speaking in San Jose on April 30, declared that, "We reject the ancient evil of anti-Semitism, whether it is practiced by the killers of Daniel Pearl or by those who burn synagogues in France."

This week, Daniel Pearl's parents and widow, Mariane, blasted CBS news for choosing to air a video of their son made by his captors.

Also, the Los Angeles Press Club announced establishment of the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity. The first Daniel Pearl Award will be presented June 22 to the slain journalist, and will be accepted by his parents. The award will also honor "the more than three dozen journalists killed in the line of duty around the world last year," said Alex Ben Block, executive director of the press club.

Pearl said that his son's widow is expecting the couple's first child, a son, "any day now." -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Jewish Leaders Meet With L.A. Times

Taking a leaf from State Department briefings, the demarche by four Jewish leaders on the headquarters of the Los Angeles Times yielded close to 90 minutes of "frank but cordial" discussions.

In the first such unified action, four professionals of three key organizations joined together to thrash out with the newspaper's top editorial brass the widespread feeling in the Jewish community that the Times' daily reporting on the Middle East leaned markedly in favor of the Palestinian side, and against Israel.

Speaking for Jewish public opinion at the Friday morning meeting were Aaron Levinson, interim regional director of the Anti-Defamation League; John Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation, and Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Facing them were Times Editor John Carroll, Managing Editor Dean Baquet, and Assistant Managing Editor Miriam Pawel.

"We addressed the widespread perception in our community that in its general reporting, headlines, photos and opinion pages, the Times showed a lack of objectivity and that the editors must find a way to address this perception," Levinson said.

By way of example, Hier pointed out that, "We get constant stories on the Israel lobby and AIPAC, but none on how the Arab and Muslim states use the U.N. General Assembly to attack Israel."

At the meeting, and in a later interview, Carroll made some headway in at least dispelling the notion that his paper held itself aloof from reader criticism. "The volume of complaints [on anti-Israel bias] has been such that I haven't been able to read it all ... but I realize the depth of feeling in the Jewish community," Carroll said.

Carroll said the paper's foreign editor didn't participate in the meeting because Simon Li, the outgoing foreign editor and the object of considerable criticism, and his successor, Marjorie Miller, were attending separate conferences abroad. Miller has spent the past 18 years as a foreign correspondent, including a lengthy stint in Israel.

The meeting ended on a suggestion that the community's grievances against the Times not be piled up for an annual Day of Atonement, but be reported as soon as the perceived transgression occurs. It is safe to say that its Jewish readers will take the Times up on its offer. -- T.T.

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