Each year, the Newseum honors journalists who were killed in the line of duty the previous year and adds them to its Journalists Memorial. But this year, the Newseum shockingly announced it was honoring two employees of the terrorist group Hamas.
The Newseum website shows photos of Mahmoud Al-Kumi and Hussam Salama, both of Al Aqsa television, among this year’s honorees. The journalism museum also released an advertisement announcing a ceremony to take place Monday honoring journalists killed in duty, which included photos of both of them.
According to the Newseum website, “They were covering fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, when a missile hit their vehicle. Al Aqsa said the journalists’ car was clearly marked ‘TV.’”
But in 2010, Al Aqsa was designated a terrorist group by the U.S. Treasury Department because it was “financed and controlled” by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. According to the Treasury press release, “Al Aqsa is a primary Hamas media outlet and airs programs and music videos designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”
The release quoted Stuart Levey, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, as saying: “Treasury will not distinguish between a business financed and controlled by a terrorist group, such as Al Aqsa Television, and the terrorist group itself.”
It’s a familiar tactic of Hamas to drive up the casualty count during conflicts with Israel by putting civilians — and media — in harm’s way to score propaganda points against Israel. In this case, Al-Kumi and Salama were effectively employed by Hamas at the time they were killed. By honoring them, the Newseum is abetting the propaganda efforts of a terrorist group.
It’s important to recognize that the Newseum does a great service by honoring brave journalists who risk their lives each day to bring us news from dangerous parts of the world. As somebody who covers political journalism, I am humbled by their dedication. But it is an insult to the memory of professional journalists for legitimate news organizations who died in the line of duty when Newseum decides to include employees of terrorist groups among their ranks.
The Newseum responds:
The Newseum Journalists Memorial recognizes 2,246 journalists who died or were killed while reporting the news. To be listed on the memorial, an individual must have been a contributor of news, commentary or photography to a news outlet; an editor or news executive; a producer, camera operator, sound engineer or other member of a broadcast crew; or a documentary filmmaker.
Hussam Salama and Mahmoud Al-Kumi were cameramen in a car clearly marked “TV.” The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers all consider these men journalists killed in the line of duty.
The Journalists Memorial selection committee conducts case-by-case reviews using the above criteria.