What happens when a journalist exclusively engages with a narrow selection of civil society in a foreign country? Roger Cohen’s column about Israeli policy in Hebron (“Holy City of Sterile Streets,” January 20, 2018) exemplifies the problems. Cohen provides the single perspective of an openly political group, “Breaking the Silence.”
Breaking the Silence is perhaps the most controversial civil society organization in Israel precisely because it distorts complex human rights and security issues in service of its political agenda. This organization represents a marginal swath of Israel’s diverse discourse on the difficult questions of Hebron and Israeli-Palestinian relations.
NGO Monitor, the Jerusalem-based research institution I work for, encourages decision makers and influencers to experience the diversity of Israeli society, to better understand the situation and improve their policy making and reporting. Last year, both EU Ambassador Emanuelle Giafret and Canadian Ambassador Deborah Lyons saw fit to balance their Breaking the Silence tours with meetings with groups that provide alternative perspectives. We hope that journalists will follow suit.
Chief of Staff, NGO Monitor