Score a point for a prominent Washington, D.C. museum in acknowledging a mistake, and for pro-Israel advocates in pointing the way to the truth.
The announcement on Monday by the Newseum, the Newhouse-funded museum devoted to journalism, to reverse its decision to honor two cameramen affiliated with Hamas who were killed in Gaza last year, was the result in part of a campaign by groups supporting Israel and by conservative media organizations.
The two men, Hussam Salama and Mahmoud al-Kumi, were traveling in a van marked “TV” and worked for Al Aksa TV, founded by Hamas, when they came under fire from Israel last November. They had been slated to be honored by the Newseum this week, having their names included on a Journalism Memorial wall, along with 82 journalists killed last year “in the line of duty.”
Al Aksa TV is listed by the United States as a terror organization and arm of Hamas. But the Newseum had said that the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers considered the two men in question to have been killed while doing their job as journalists.
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank, first spoke out against the inclusion of Salama and al-Kumi, and were joined by several Jewish groups who noted that Israel has long documented how Palestinian terrorists drive or ride in vehicles indicating they are members of the press, using journalistic cover to commit violent acts.
The Newseum held fast to its position for several days, but on Monday, even as a full-page ad for the Journalism Memorial event appeared in the New York Times with the photos of Salama and al-Kumi, it reversed its position.
“Terrorism has altered the landscape in many areas, including the rules of war and engagement, law, investigative and interrogation techniques, and the detention of enemy combatants,” the Newseum statement said. “Journalism is no exception.
“We take the concerns raised about these two men seriously and have decided to reevaluate their inclusion as journalists on our memorial wall pending further investigation.”
They should never have been included in the first place, but we give credit to the Newseum for backing down, and trust it will be more careful in the future in distinguishing between authentic journalists and determined terrorists.