Pearl, Ahmed Awarded $100K Prize for Fight Against Intolerance; Shin Bet Seeks High-Tech Experts

Pearl, Ahmed Awarded $100K Prize for Fight Against Intolerance

Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed, a Jew and a Muslim, are the joint recipients of a new $100,000 prize for their campaign against intolerance and the roots of terrorism.

The Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. professors were among the five recipients of the newly established Purpose Prize, awarded to Americans 60 or older, who are using their experience and innovative skills to address long-standing social problems.

Pearl, 70, an authority on artificial intelligence at UCLA, is the father of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by Islamic extremists in Karachi, Pakistan in 2002.

In response to this tragedy, Pearl and his wife Ruth established a foundation in their son’s name to further cross-cultural understanding between the Eastern and Western worlds through journalism, music and dialogue.

Ahmed, 63, holds the Chair in Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. He was born in the same city where Daniel Pearl was slain and is a former Pakistani ambassador to Great Britain.

Over the past two years, the two scholars have appeared before mixed Jewish, Muslim and Christian audiences in the United States and overseas in dialogues and discussions on the most emotional and divisive issues currently facing mankind.

“We have only two rules,” Pearl said. “No topic is taboo, and we and the audience will behave with civility.”

Civic Ventures is a San Francisco-based think tank and program incubator, which advances the proposition that “Today’s boomers and older Americans are an extraordinary pool of social and human capital that – with the right investment – can yield unprecedented returns for society,” according to Freedman.

The Purpose Prize is supported by two foundations, the Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation.

In separate interviews, both Pearl and Ahmed said they would use their individual $50,000 prize money to further their joint work.

“The prize will serve as a seal of approval and give visibility to our work, especially in the Muslim media,” Pearl said.

Ahmed said that he initially received severe criticism in the Muslim press and was accused of being “the sole Muslim voice in dialogue with Israel,” but that his moderate viewpoint is gaining ground.

Even the increased hostility in the wake of the Hezbollah-Israel fighting, “has only hardened my determination” that Jews and Muslims must reach an understanding, he said.

The other four prize winners are grassroots activists in such areas as racial disparities in preventable deaths, job opportunities for the disabled, housing needs for the elderly poor, and the disrupted lives of millions of children with a parent in jail.

Nominations for the Purpose Prize numbered 1,200, of whom the top 70 are meeting Sept. 7 through Sept. 9 at Stanford University with academicians and venture philanthropists in a “Purpose Prize Innovation Summit.”

— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Shin Bet Seeks High-Tech Experts

Israel’s domestic spy service launched a recruitment drive for high-tech experts. The Shin Bet went public Tuesday with a call for computer programmers and specialists to join its counterterrorism and counterespionage missions in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Salaries and terms would be attractive enough to compete with Israel’s lucrative private high-tech market, the agency said.

“If you thought the only way to fight terrorists was through interrogations in Arabic, think again,” read an ad posted on the agency’s Web site. “Today, more and more preventive operations are carried out using the language of computing.”

On Monday, Israel’s deputy prime minister, Shimon Peres, urged Israel’s security services to press ahead with technological innovation, “perhaps even on a type of intelligence hitherto unknown, grounded in revolutionary nanotechnology.” Peres wrote in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “A terrorist might be deterred by the knowledge that new surveillance tools have been developed that could identify him, even in a large crowd; that his weapon could be detected without his knowledge.”

Newsweek Recognizes Hebrew U.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem came in 82nd on Newsweek a magazine’s list of the world’s 100 top institutes of higher learning. Hebrew University was the only Israeli institute represented in Newsweek’s ranking.

The magazine said its ranking system took into account “openness and diversity, as well as distinction in research.” Hebrew University said it placed 60th among a list of the world’s 500 best institutes of higher learning put together by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

Europeans Bar El Al Planes With Arms

Five European nations are reportedly refusing to allow some El Al flights to make refueling stops at their airports.

Israel Radio reported Tuesday that Britain, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy had announced that El Al planes suspected of transporting weapons to Tel Aviv would not receive services on their territory. It was not immediately clear how the countries cited would determine which aircraft were handling arms shipments, and which were conventional passenger flights.

The decision was seen in Israel as being especially grating given a recent franchise deal signed between the government and Italy´s national airline, Alitalia, the radio reported. El Al declined comment.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.