Anti-Israel demonstrators in Tehran, May 15, 2012.
Anti-Israel demonstrators in Tehran, May 15, 2012. Photo by AP
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Israel has been ranked in the top four countries that most negatively influence the word, according to a global public opinion poll conducted by the BBC.

The poll, which surveyed citizens from 22 countries around the world, places Iran in first place, with 55 percent of those surveyed rating it as a negative country. Pakistan ranked second with 51 percent, and in joint third place were Israel and North Korea, with 50 percent of respondents negatively evaluating both countries.

The broad international survey was an initiative of the BBC World Service, and carried out by GlobeScan, in collaboration with the the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland – Program on International Policy Attitudes. Over 24,000 people from 22 countries took part in the poll, which was conducted from December 2011 to February 2012.

The survey’s findings on global attitudes toward Israel are worrying indeed. Last year’s survey already that attitudes toward Israel were negative, but the situation has become more serious this year: Some 47 percent of participants in the 2011 survey had negative views of Israel’s influence on the world, but this year the number has gone up to 50 percent.

Where do the negative evaluations of Israel come from? Some 45 percent of participants said that Israeli government policy causes them to see Israel in a negative light, and 27 percent said their negative evaluation stemmed from the state’s treatment of its own people. In contrast, 29 percent of those who said they had a positive view of Israel said it was because of their sympathy with Judaism, while a further 26 percent said it was because of Israel’s foreign policy.

Only 21 percent of those polled defined their views of Israel as favorable, and in only three states - the U.S., Nigeria and Kenya – did a majority of respondents say they had a positive view of Israel. Some 50 percent of Americans that took part in the poll said they had a favorable view of Israel, an increase of 7 percent on the previous year.

35 percent of American participants said that they had a negative view of Israel, a decrease of 6 percent on 2011. Those who carried out the survey said that Israel’s ranking in American public opinion is the most stable since the poll was first conducted in 2005.

In Nigeria, 54 percent said they had a positive view of Israel – an increase of 23 percent on last year’s survey, and in Kenya 45 percent held positive views – an increase of 16 percent on 2011.

Israel’s standing in Europe, on the other hand, has taken a turn for the worse. Some 74 percent of Spanish respondents (an increase of 8 percent from last year), 56 percent of French respondents (an increase of 9 percent), 69 percent of Germans and 68 percent of Britons are convinced that Israel has a negative global influence. According to the poll, public opinion of Israel in western countries in general is tough. 65 percent of Australians and 59 percent of Canadians who were polled have a negative view of Israel – a 7 percent increase on last year’s survey in both countries.

Public opinion of Israel in emerging economies is also problematic, according to the poll. 45 percent of Chinese participants, 58 percent of Brazilians and 29 percent of Indians have negative views of Israel, and the number of Israel sympathizers in these countries is markedly low. The survey also found that in Russia, which last year stood out as a country where public opinion of Israel was positive, only 25 percent of Russian participants had positive views of Israel this year, compared to 26 percent who see Israel in a negative light.

As expected, public opinion of Israel in the Muslim world is the harshest of all. 85 percent of participants think that Israel has a negative influence on the world, 7 percent more than last year. Out of the 22 countries surveyed, Egypt has the most negative view of Israel. In addition, 50 percent of Pakistanis are hostile to Israel, with 9 percent sympathetic toward it. Meanwhile, 61 percent of Indonesians are hostile to Israel, compared to 8 percent who support it.

Read this article in Hebrew