The annual Country Ratings Poll of Britain’s BBC World Service asked whether the influences of 16 countries plus the EU are “mostly positive” or “mostly negative.” Results prove that Israel’s global image is tarnished, to say the least. Fifty percent of respondents replied that they have “negative views of Israel’s influence in the world.” Only Iran and Pakistan fared worse in the poll.
The United States was the only western nation where Israel’s image fared well amongst respondents. When asked, 50% of Americans regarded Israel’s influence as positive, while 34% gave Israel a negative rating. This should come as no surprise – polls consistently show that Americans have a favorable view of Israel, while European animosity towards Jews runs so deep that French, British, and German Jews are flocking to Israel to seek refuge.
Interestingly, apart from the U.S., Nigeria and Kenya were the two countries where Israel’s image was perceived favorably by a large portion of the population. 54% of Nigerians held a positive view of the state, and 45% of Kenyans perceived Israel as a positive global influence.
Israel’s global image is shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which Israel is all too often portrayed as the oppressor of the Palestinians. The Jewish state’s extremely poor showing in this recent poll may reignite the debate over what should be done to better promote Israel’s image. The Israeli government is often blamed for losing the public relations war with Israel’s enemies; there is a growing sense here in the Holy Land that there’s little that can be done to improve our image.
This view has been strengthened by the world’s refusal to stand with Israel when terrorist rockets rain down on our towns and cities, and by the outpouring of global outrage against Israel every time we retaliate to attacks. All our efforts at making concessions to the Palestinians have failed to garner Israel any points with international public opinion, leaving many Israelis to ask what seems like a very legitimate question: Why bother?