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Ambassador James B. Cunningham
AMBASSADOR CUNNINGHAM: Thanks to all of you for coming. I think this is my first time at an event like this, but I think this is going to be a special evening for all of us from what I have seen so far. I also want to welcome a couple of very special guests: Hannah Ronen, who is Daniel Pearl’s aunt, who joined our Embassy community last year as we remembered her nephew, and Ambassador Yitzchak Mayer, who is a close friend of Daniel’s father, is with us tonight.
This is the seventh in the annual series of Daniel Pearl music days that have taken place since his death in Pakistan in 2002. Daniel is remembered as a professional journalist, but he was also a talented musician who saw both fields as a way of improving people’s lives and bringing them together.
In response to his terrible death, Daniel’s family and friends have worked to continue his mission of bringing people together. They have addressed the causes of that tragedy with the same spirit and the same principles that shaped Daniel’s work and character, those that promote cross-cultural understanding through music and through words.
For this reason, the family established the “Daniel Pearl Foundation” and began worldwide concerts marking the “Daniel Pearl World Music Days – Harmony for Humanity.” Since its inception, the Daniel Pearl World Music Days has seen more than 2,000 concerts dedicated to borderless friendship and humanity around the world. His concerts have helped transform an unbearable tragedy into a bridge between cultures and peoples.
The goal of the Daniel Pearl Foundation and Daniel Pearl World Music Days is very similar to a key part of our mission here in Israel – to break down barriers between those of different backgrounds and encourage dialogue between them. The U.S. Government uses diplomacy, Daniel Pearl World Music Days uses journalism, music and dialogue.
Our really special guests tonight are the “Shani” Girls Choir who we are going to hear. The choir exemplifies the creative cross-cultural celebration that bridges those gaps through music. The choir from the Jezreel Valley Center for the Arts is multi-cultural under the talented baton of Mrs. Pnina Inbar, the choir’s founder and conductor. Tonight we will also enjoy a very special performance -- in fact the premiere -- of a poem that Ambassador Mayer wrote in memory of Daniel. Israeli composer Shlomo Gronich set the poem to music.
In Daniel’s memory and as a reflection of our shared goals for harmony for humanity, I am very proud to host tonight’s concert and I am sure you are going to find it a very special event. I hope it will lead all of us to reflect a bit on the ideals for which this concert and this series stand.
Thanks for joining us tonight.
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