What is the “Halo Effect?”

The “halo effect” is a term used in psychology, describing the tendency to favorably judge people, companies, groups, products, etc. based on the image of morality or some other positive factor. In the context of NGOs, groups that claim to promote values that are seen as universally good – peace, human rights, justice, coexistence – are automatically perceived as credible and constructive forces, immune from investigation and criticism.

This bias is manifest in the way in which factual and legal statements by politicized NGOs that claim to represent human rights are routinely accepted at face value and without question by journalists, diplomats, academics, and other opinion makers.

How Does the “Halo Effect” Affect the Media?

This “halo” shields NGOs from independent analysis and scrutiny that is directed toward other political actors. Even though factual and legal claims of NGOs have been shown to be based on faulty (or non-existent) methodology and rooted in highly biased, immoral agendas, the media routinely promulgate their statements without subjecting them to critical analysis.

See Mati Friedman’s article in The Atlantic, “What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel,” for more on this phenomenon.

Delegitimization of Israel

The “halo effect” provides anti-Israel political advocacy NGOs with a façade, allowing them to hide their political warfare agendas behind the rhetoric of “human rights” and “international law.” Charges of “apartheid” and “war crimes” enter into media reports and other accounts, and from there become further entrenched in the discourse about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

NGO allegations are then repeated in United Nations investigations and fact-finding missions, as well as by academics writing about conflicts and international law.

The NGO accusations fuel BDS campaigns and lawfare attacks, serving as “proof” that Israel must be punished and treated as a pariah state.