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Update, 2:39 p.m.: FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer provided the Free Beacon proof that both purported journalists have been considered terrorist operatives by Hamas.
A top website operated by Hamas identifies both purported journalists as a “martyr” and “jihadi fighter,” according to FDD.
Salama is identified in one post on the Hamas forum as ”mujahid” or martyr, as well as a “jihadi fighter,” according to Schanzer.
Al-Kumi is identified in another posting in the forum as a “martyr.” Pictures of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh meeting with al-Kumi’s family are also posted in the forum.
The Hamas website additionally bills both al-Kumi and Salama as the “martyred journalists,” providing proof that they were considered militants by the terror group.
The Newseum, a journalism museum located in Washington, D.C., defended on Friday its controversial inclusion of two purported journalists widely considered to be terrorists in a memorial for slain reporters.
The Newseum attracted criticism from pro-Israel advocates Thursday for announcing it would honor two members of Hamas as part of its Journalists Memorial. The memorial recognizes journalists killed in the line of duty such as Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and killed by al Qeada terrorists in 2002.
The Newseum defended its right to honor the terrorists, who they consider journalists, in a statement to the Free Beacon.
“Hussam Salama and Mahmoud Al-Kumi were cameramen in a car clearly marked ‘TV,’” Newseum spokesman Scott Williams told the Free Beacon via email. “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.”
Middle East experts disagree with this assessment, however.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which combats anti-Semitism, said the Newseum has made a “shameful decision” to honor the terrorists.
“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.
Salama and Al-Kumi were Hamas members who posed as journalists in order to commit terrorist acts against Israel, they say.
“Mahmoud Al-Kumi and Hussam Salama were Hamas operatives and cameramen for Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television network, which regularly features programming that encourages and praises attacks on Israeli civilians,” the Israel Defense Forces maintains. “The IDF targeted Al-Kumi and Salama on Nov. 20.”
The U.S. Treasury Department designated Al-Aqsa Television, the organization that the two militants worked for, as a terror organization in 2010.
Additionally, Palestinian media reported that Salama and Al-Kumi were members of Hamas.
The Newseum conducted a “case-by-case” review before admitting the so-called reporters, Williams said.
“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,” he explained.
“The Journalists Memorial selection committee conducts case-by-case reviews using the above criteria,” Williams said. “Also included in the memorial this year are 82 other journalists who died in 2012 and six additional journalists who died in previous years.”
Pro-Israel advocates vehemently disagreed with the Newseum’s assessment.
“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 Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) said it is boycotting the Newseum in an interview with BuzzFeed Friday.
“I’ll be putting in a call to the CEO of the Newseum first thing tomorrow morning,” Cliff May, the president of the FDD, 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.”
The Newseum’s Journalists Memorial recognizes 2,246 journalists in all.
The Newseum features multiple exhibits about newspapers and television reporting and Ana Marie Cox’s slippers.