A new Global Peace Index has just been launched, developed by the uber-credible Economist Intelligence Unit and an international panel of peace institute and think tank experts, with a star-studded list of endorsing individuals and organizations. They rank 121 countries with Norway claiming pole position, and Israel coming in at... 119th. Chapeau to my homeland for finishing ahead of Sudan and Iraq!
Top place Middle Eastern spot goes to Oman at number 22, while the USA comes in at 96, squeezing Iran into the 97th slot, and Russia ranks one above Israel at 118. The indicators for compiling this Global peace index are actually quite fascinating, and you can read them here. 24 indicators were used, and their site gives the source and methodology applied. They include: wars, deaths from internal and external conflict, human rights, political instability, size of security forces and jailed population, military expenditure and sales, and involvement in peacekeeping operations. This strikes me as something not to be poo-pooed, but rather to be taken seriously.
Of course many in the so-called "pro-Israel community" will do their best to ignore the index, dismiss it as biased, villify those behind it, or perhaps even a combination of the above. Then there will be the predictable, and so overworn appeal that "what Israel needs is better PR" (we have a special word for it -- hasbarah). Some effective fundraising might even be done off the back of this. That would be the business-as-usual response that has failed and is wrong. It would once again address the symptom rather than the cause, and do absolutely nothing positive or helpful for Israel. Israel's security (not to mention that of the Palestinians or the region) has not been advanced by business as usual. Israel last year had the lowest immigration (aliyah) numbers in almost 20 years, and an increasing number of Israelis of European background are taking out a second passport, just in case. This is also hardly an Israel that can be attractive, enthusing, and inspiring to world Jewry, or that can be an anchor in fostering Jewish identity and values.
I hope this doesn't sound too trite, but the one thing that Israel and the people who care about Israel should do to radically improve the country's ranking in advance of next year's index would be to promote an end to the occupation, agreed permanent borders with all the neighbors, and a positive response to the Arab League Initiative.
Watch out, Russia, Israel might overtake you.