‘Newseum’ comes under pressure from Israel supporters for honoring Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 19 Comments

On May 13th, the Newseum in Washington, DC will be holding an event to honor “newspeople who died or were killed in the pursuit of news” in the past year. Among the 84 journalists who died are Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama who were killed in Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip this past winter. Their inclusion in the ceremony has sent parts of the Israel lobby into overdrive as both worked for Al-Aqsa television which is affiliated with Hamas. The neocon think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is threatening pull an annual policy summit out of the venue in protest.

Rosie Gray reports for Buzzfeed (note Buzzfeed’s title “Think Tank Could Pull Event From Newseum Over Hamas Memorial” seems to take FDD criticism to heart):

A pro-Israel think tank in Washington is so concerned over the Newseum’s honoring of two slain Palestinian journalists with links to Hamas that they may consider pulling their annual policy summit from the venue, two top officials at the organization indicated on Thursday.

“I’ll be putting in a call to the CEO of the Newseum first thing tomorrow morning,” Cliff May, the president of the hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said in an email to BuzzFeed. “I’m hoping he’ll tell me there’s been a misunderstanding – or a re-thinking once it became clear that these ‘journalists’ were members of designated terrorist organizations.”

May said his position has less to do with his group’s support for Israel than its opposition to terrorist tactics.

“If the Newseum were commemorating members of designated terrorist organizations whose main targets were Americans or Christians or Kurds or Malian Sufi Muslims, our concern would not be lessened,” he said in a follow-up email.

The Washington Free Beacon quotes the The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper:

“Duct Tape on car with the letters TV does not a journalist make,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean. “A shameful decision based on a falsehood that besmirches the true heroes of journalism who died while pursuing their mission of seeking and reporting the Truth.”

“What would the legitimate martyred journalists like Daniel Pearl say as their heroism and humanity is debased and degraded?” Cooper asked.

The Beacon also talked to an anonymous “adviser to a large Washington, D.C., Jewish organization”:

“They couldn’t have been legitimate journalists killed in the line of duty because they weren’t working for a legitimate media outlet,” said one adviser to a large Washington, D.C., Jewish organization. “They were working for a designated terrorist organization that has a propaganda shop.”

“Of course they painted ‘TV’ on their car,” said the source.

The Israeli government has joined the chorus against the event. Here the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC tweets at the Newseum to reconsider:


The Newseum has already responded and the event will go forward as planned. Here is part of a statement from Newseum spokesperson Jonathan Thompson:

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 duty.

The Journalists Memorial selection committee conducts case-by-case reviews using the above criteria.

This isn’t the first time Salama and Al-Kumi have been at the center of controversy. New York Times media writer David Carr came under criticism for a column last November about Israeli targeting of journalists where he focused on al-Kumi and Salama’s deaths. Similar to now, pro-Israel supporters echoed Israeli military claims that the cameramen were in fact terrorists and not journalists. At the time Carr responded:

“The Committee to Protect Journalists, which I treat as a reliable, primary source in these matters, identified them as journalists. (as did Reporters without Borders.)”

“I ran my column by reporters and editors at our shop familiar with current events in the region before I printed it,” Carr said. “And I don’t believe that an ID made by the IDF is dispostive or obviates what the others said. Doesn’t mean that I could not have gotten it wrong, only that the evidence so far suggests that they were journalists, however partisan.”

It should also be noted that Israel fell 20 spots (to 112) in Reporters Without Borders 2013 Press Freedom Index specifically “because of the Israeli military’s targeting of journalists in the Palestinian Territories.”

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. irmep
    May 10, 2013, 1:01 pm

    This kerfuffle is drenched in irony and dusted in hypocrisy.

    The Newseum *has a terrace honoring Hank Greenspun.*

    link to newseum.org

    Greenspun was a convicted felon who parlayed hundreds of thousands of profits on smuggled arms stolen from the US Navy (and elsewhere) to Jewish fighters in Palestine into a media empire author Dan Moldea characterized as “bad news.”

    link to spytalkblog.blogspot.com

    Perhaps as a consolation, any plaque commemorating journalists of all stripes killed by Israel (and other countries) will be untouchable. Yet anyone can go still go walk all over the Greenspun terrace (and metaphorically, everything it represents) for a quite reasonable fee…

  2. pabelmont
    May 10, 2013, 1:17 pm

    This “full court press” gives new(s) meaning to both “press” and “court”. The FDD invites the (other) court-media to decide which side their bread is buttered on. Money as censorship rides again.

    Fight the good fight, Newseum!

  3. K Renner
    May 10, 2013, 1:35 pm

    Rosie May’s written a pack of idiotic articles, nothing new.

    May and Cooper look even more idiotic than usual- especially cooper with his “the Truth” and idolization of Daniel Pearl.

  4. irmep
    May 10, 2013, 1:41 pm

    One more thing. According to a declassified FBI report, “Greenspun and “immediate followers” had become discredited for ties with Irgun terrorists.”

    link to irmep.org

    A guy with ties to the “right kind” of terrorists getting a terrace at the Newseum kinda sums up the current state of US establishment journalism on the Middle East.

    • Kathleen
      May 10, 2013, 9:01 pm

      Grant do you have any information about Mendelson’s in Dayton Ohio having access to Wright Patterson Air Force Base military technology and other material possibly sent to Israel from that base over the decades? Was talking with someone in Dayton who mentioned this. I grew up in that town and a good portion of my large Catholic family worked there going back 50 60 years (and no it was not a family member who mentioned this to me)

  5. Justpassingby
    May 10, 2013, 1:52 pm

    These israeli-lobby-groups need a job instead of defending killing of civilians. Quite disgraceful.
    If this was about honoring children killed in wars Israel and its apologists would use the same tactic to smear them as “terrorists”. No end to the absurdities put out by the israeli lobby these days.

    • MK_Ultra
      May 10, 2013, 6:53 pm

      A true sign of desperation and a show that the psychopaths are losing their grip. When that happens, all bets are off and they go bunkers. Nothing is too outrageous for them to try thus showing their demented selves in the process.

  6. chet
    May 10, 2013, 2:42 pm

    Another attempt in the RELENTLESS crusade to keep the MSM from disseminating to the US public any information suggesting unacceptable Israeli actions – every time one of these campaigns is started: OUTRAGE – “Is there anything that these **ckers won’t attack??!!!”

    • DICKERSON3870
      May 10, 2013, 7:12 pm

      SEE: “Targeting Stephen Hawking and Dustin Hoffman: Right-wing ‘pro-Israel’ advocacy as hate speech”, by Bradley Burston, Haaretz, May 9 2013

      [EXCERPTS] Professor Steven Plaut teaches business finance and economics at the University of Haifa. He also writes articles, pamphlets and blog posts intended to defend Israel. This is what he offered in defense of Israel this week, in response to physicist Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott next month’s Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians:
      I have a suggestion. I suggest that the people of Israel send Hawking for a free trip on the Achille Lauro!!

      Plaut’s argument, that the proper punishment for boycotting Israel should be execution, was only slightly more obscene than that of attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center Organization, a right-wing pro-Israel not-for-profit whose stated primary goals include “defending human rights” and conducting a “civil war” in court against global terror. In a statement, Darshan-Leitner alluded to the fact that Hawking is almost entirely paralyzed and communicates through a speech generating device:

      His whole computer-based communication system runs on a chip designed by Israel’s Intel team. I suggest that if he truly wants to pull out of Israel he should also pull out his Intel Core i7 from his tablet.

      . . . Increasingly, the rabid “Pro-Israel” far-right has taken on as principal targets Jews whose most cherished wish is to see Israel become a stronger, more democratic, more livable society. Pamela Geller, whose bread and butter “pro-Israel” tack is hatred of Muslims, has branched out to target writer and editor Peter Beinart as a vomit-inducing kapo. Geller, at times borrowing her writing style from Stormfront, has also called Beinart “the pet Jew turncoat” of Newsweek/Daily Beast Editor Tina Brown. . .
      . . . It has to stop. It has to stop here and now. When self-styled pro-Israel advocates on the far-right practice incitement and repulsive bullying to further their cause, when hate speech becomes the go-to tool in their belt, it is time for people who care about Israel’s future to take a stand, call them out, shut them down, fight their smirking, obscene, proudly bigoted pronouncements. . .
      . . . It has to stop. We have to stop meekly putting up with it. Otherwise, as we’ve seen a number of times recently, if smartly dressed thugs of the right can disrupt a serious debate on Israel’s future by booing and delegitimizing a two-state solution as being anti-Israel, the way forward is clear. If the bigots, the fanatics, the Apartheid apologists, the velveteen fascists of the pro-Israel far-right are freely granted platforms as respected “experts” on Israel, no one who hates Israel as bigoted, fanatic, Apartheid-ruled and fascistic, no one who wants to see Israel ostracized to death,- will ever need to say another word. The Plauts, the Gellers, and a host of others will have already done their work for them.

      SOURCE – link to niqnaq.wordpress.com

  7. Annie Robbins
    May 10, 2013, 2:42 pm

    you’d think at some point the israeli gov and their minions in the US lobby (or is it the other way around) would get it thru their heads that some battles are not worth fighting. this is one of them. the attention they’ve thrown at this event has only enhanced the coverage. i didn’t even know about the event in washington.

    the idea most people are going to assume palestinian journalists are terrorists, and therefore legitimate targets is delusional. the israel government saying otherwise will not change that. the renowned hasbarist clifford may, bloviating about himself being a journalist and therefore understands he difference between journalism and propaganda…well, he’s making a laughing stock out of himself. what’s next? is bill kristol going to claim he’s not a lobbiest?

    it is as if they are on some perch on a hill with their own definitions, their own dictionary, and they think the world is on the same page or can wear their glasses solely based on the fact their voice sounds authoritarian. not going to happen.

    dunno what else to say. what frauds they all are, as day after day after day israel targets, imprisons and kills palestinian journalists, for exercising nothing but carrying out their jobs. it’s their profession to report the news.

    or does the government of israel believe only the oppressor has the right to write about their victims?

    killing off the messengers doesn’t work if we notice eh? and honor them.

    • justicewillprevail
      May 10, 2013, 5:45 pm

      Totally right. The overweening arrogance of these people is astonishing. In what universe do they live? They are so used to bullying and intimidating people and institutions that they now think that a hysterical reaction to any news of Palestinians is sufficient to gain them a humiliating and grovelling apology. Clearly they assume that their power is absolute, and that everybody is stupid enough to take their side without any evidence provided for their ludicrous claims. Years of success with these tactics have made them assume their facile, idiotic and ridiculous demands will be obeyed without question. They appear to have no idea of how much they have alienated and disgusted people with this approach, and how unbelievable they have become, so drunk on their own small-minded ideology are they. Frauds and propagandists with all the credibility of the Scientologists ‘security’ detail.

    • Blownaway
      May 10, 2013, 10:56 pm

      They are so used to bullying and intimidating any who dare even remotely criticize them and winning that no battle is too small. It’s a way to chill any future battles

  8. Kathleen
    May 10, 2013, 4:59 pm

    Latest on this at HP

    Only 13 comments
    link to huffingtonpost.com

  9. ToivoS
    May 10, 2013, 5:13 pm

    So a Zionist organization, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, threatens to pick up its marbles and go home if Newseum doesn’t back down. And it looks like they won’t back down. Isn’t this what we want — isn’t that what BDS is all about, isolating Israeli institutions?

  10. Sumud
    May 10, 2013, 5:18 pm

    The neocon think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is threatening pull an annual policy summit out of the venue in protest.

    Everyone knows Hamas was elected to power in Palestine in 2006 in EU-monitored elections declared to be free and fair…

    FDD need to change their name, i propose something a little more modest:

    Foundation For The Defense of Democracies Sometimes

  11. Les
    May 10, 2013, 6:09 pm

    The real news is that Israel has been declared to be a democracy.

  12. MK_Ultra
    May 10, 2013, 6:50 pm

    One thing is sure, every time the Zionists go on overdrive, they do nothing but show their ugly faces for the world to see. They truly are a self-destructive lot. They do more damage to themselves and tell/show who they are better than all the Palestinians and their supporters could do in a million years. What a misguided, delusional, self-destructive lot.

  13. RoHa
    May 11, 2013, 1:27 am

    No issue too humane, no issue too obscure, but they will whine about it.

    They just reveal their total lack of decency.

  14. eljay
    May 11, 2013, 9:35 am

    International law protects journalists in military conflict.

    And there’s the problem: The oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of (Greater) Israel care’s not for international law.

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