We were pretty appalled to learn that the Newseum was planning an event to examine how the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) use social media, like in the 2014 Gaza war. We sent a letter pointing out the very troubling fact that the Newseum’s values aren’t exactly reflected in the event or the speaker choice, but apparently it got lost in the mail because the event proceeded - - and proceeded exactly as promised, straight into principled chaos. The guest speaker, retired Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich has made a (very) bad name for herself by justifying the killing of Palestinian journalists (which is a war crime) in the New York Times by calling them “terrorists who hold cameras and notebooks.” She earned herself widespread condemnation for that appalling zinger, but it definitely should not have earned her platform at any scholarly discussion about the importance of media and journalism during warfare (reminder - the Newseum is dedicated to promoting freedom of the press and honoring fallen journalists). CodePink activists, journalist Max Blumenthal, and many others asked the right questions of the guest and of the Newseum’s CEO who presided over the chaos without any sort of acknowledgement about these concerns, rather insisting that his museum is “fostering debate.” We’re all for debate, we’re not for ignoring war crimes or elevating their apologists.

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