Philanthropy must say no to ‘no-go’ zones

Krystian Seibert

I read Charles Keidan’s editorial (Alliance, June 2019) with great interest. As his visit to Gaza occurred only a few months after the end of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead and given Hamas’ stance in relation to Israel and the Jewish peoples, I can understand why some colleagues of Charles’ may have thought it an unwise decision to travel there.

However I do think it is a good example of how philanthropy should approach not just peace-building, but its work more broadly. Building peace involves understanding conflict, and without firsthand knowledge of the different aspects to a conflict, including the people involved and impacts ‘on the ground’, philanthropy will struggle to have much influence. Not just in peace-building, but in any cause area, it’s important for philanthropy to get out of its comfort zone.

That doesn’t mean that everybody working in philanthropy needs to feel compelled to visit a warzone. But they should feel compelled to leave the relative safety of the office and go to the literal or metaphorical ‘frontlines’ of whatever social, environmental, political or other challenge they’re seeking to address.

Krsytian Seibert
Centre for Social Impact
Swinburne University, Australia

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