Earlier today, we contacted the Newseum to express our deep concern regarding their misguided exclusion of two Palestinian journalists who were killed by Israel from its memorial gallery commemorating journalists killed while reporting the news, as well as from the special event held last night in their honor. ADC asked the Newseum team to reevaluate their decision and to include the two journalists in the gallery immediately. Read the letter sent from ADC to the Newseum here.
In its online statement yesterday, the Newseum wrote: “Serious questions have been raised as to whether two of the individuals included on our initial list of journalists who died covering the news this past year were truly journalists or whether they were engaged in terrorist activities. We take the concerns raised about these two men seriously and have decided to re-evaluate their inclusion as journalists on our memorial wall pending further investigation.”
We told the Newseum that such an investigation, which would involve deciding who is qualified to be counted as a journalist, is far beyond the Newseum’s mandate and capacity. Rather than conducting an investigation in a few days, the Newseum should rely on information prepared by top international organizations whose expertise and objectivity confer confidence in their findings.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers have all stated that they recognize these men to be “journalists” killed in the line duty.
Other international organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have condemned the Israeli attack that killed the two Palestinian journalists, concluding that the attack violated the laws of war. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director for Human Rights Watch, has said: “Just because Israel says a journalist was a fighter or a TV station was a command center does not make it so. Journalists who praise Hamas and TV stations that applaud attacks on Israel may be propagandists, but that does not make them legitimate targets under the laws of war.” Human Rights Watch found absolutely no indication that Mr. Salama or Mr. Al-Kumi were validly targeted as military objectives.
Excluding journalists because of their national origin or political affiliation sets a very dangerous precedent. It sends the wrong signal that killing some journalists is acceptable.
The Newseum should comply with its mission by honoring all journalists who lost their lives while reporting the news – including Mr. Salama and Mr. Al-Kumi.
Contact the Newseum now!