Kerala Media Academy, an esteemed journalism institution under government control, has named Wael Al-Dahdouh as the “Media Person of The Year.” The selection, reportedly based on recommendations from the Investigative Journalist Association and the Editorial Board of Media Magazine, has sparked controversy.
Wael Al-Dahdouh serves as the Gaza Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera TV and is allegedly associated with the terrorist organisation Hamas. Known for consistently glorifying Hamas in his reporting, Al-Dahdouh’s selection for the award has raised eyebrows, especially given the accusations surrounding his connections to the militant group.
Despite being honoured with the prestigious title, Al-Dahdouh did not attend the award ceremony in person.
Critics have pointed out the connection between leftist political ideology and the support extended to individuals linked with controversial organisations. They draw parallels with previous instances, such as the defence of Siddique Kappan by members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) and leftist media figures during his arrest in Uttar Pradesh on charges of alleged anti-national activities.
The plight of the people in Gaza, particularly in the wake of Hamas’s missile attacks against Israel in October 2023, has brought attention to the actions and affiliations of organisations like Hamas. While Hamas is viewed by some as the representative of the people of Gaza, others criticise its association with groups like ISIS and its role in escalating tensions in the region.
Despite Al-Dahdouh’s absence from the award ceremony in India, political strategists speculate that the decision to honour him could be leveraged in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, reflecting the left’s approach to capitalise on such recognitions for electoral gains.
Questions have been raised regarding the selection process for the award, with some questioning whether there is a lack of competent journalists deserving of recognition. Critics argue that the decision to honor Al-Dahdouh raises concerns about the criteria used in determining the recipient and the potential political agenda behind the choice.
The stance taken by political leaders in Kerala during the Israel-Hamas conflict further underscores the political dynamics at play. While the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) engaged in blame games against Israel, some leaders refrained from directly criticizing Hamas despite its role in initiating hostilities.
In a notable incident, former Chief Minister Oomen Chandy of the Congress reportedly revised his condolence message for Soumya Santosh, a Keralite killed in Hamas’s missile attack in Israel, to avoid mentioning Hamas by name. Similarly, media reports suggested that current Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chose not to explicitly condemn Hamas for its actions.
The decision to award Al-Dahdouh must also be understood in the context of other events organized by similar groups. The “Cutting South” Seminar held last year faced allegations of sympathising with proponents of dividing the country into North and South, suggesting a broader ideological alignment among certain sections of the political and media landscape.
The Kerala Media Academy’s decision to bestow this accolade upon a figure linked to a controversial organisation like Hamas has been interpreted by observers as a move driven by appeasement or political considerations