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A BBC World Service-commissioned poll released this week proves, if nothing else, that the nature of the question pollsters ask will determine the answers they receive.

It also suggested, without having to say so explicitly, that Israel is the bastard child of Satan, the troublemaking twin of its arch-nemesis Iran.

The poll, a survey of more than 28,000 people in 27 countries, asked respondents to rate 12 countries - Britain, Canada, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, North Korea, Russia, the USA, Venezuela, and the European Union - as having a positive or negative influence.

Who, in other words, is a bad influence? Who's the kid down the block you want your kids to play with, and who's the one - for whatever reason, behavior, stigma, cooties - you want your precious one to avoid.

Significantly, the poll was taken beginning in November, when the memory of the second Lebanon war, bitter, bloody, and high in civilian casualties, was fresh.

According to the BBC, the survey "gave respondents a list of 12 countries and asked whether they had a 'mostly positive or mostly negative influence in the world. "The country with the highest number of mostly negative responses overall is Israel (56% negative, 17% positive), followed by Iran (54% negative 18% positive), the United States (51% negative, 30% positive), and North Korea (48% negative, 19% positive)."

Wait, there's more.

"Israel also stands out for having the largest number of countries (23 of 27) viewing it negatively. Iran is regarded unfavorably in 21 countries, the United States and North Korea in 20."

One suspects that somewhere in the BBC's august headquarters in London, the poll elicited more than one thin smile of satisfaction.

After all, this is the same news organization accused by an internal inquiry less than a year ago of painting too rosy a picture of Israel.

No further inquiry needed.

For the record, the kids down the block to encourage your kids to cultivate are Canadian. A total of 54 percent said they viewed Canada positively and 14 percent negatively, followed by Japan and France.

"It appears that people around the world tend to look negatively on countries whose profile is marked by the use or pursuit of military power," said pollster Steven Kull, who directed the survey. "This includes Israel and the US, who have recently used military force, and North Korea and Iran, who are perceived as trying to develop nuclear weapons.

"Countries that relate to the world primarily through soft power, like Japan, France, and the EU in general, tend to be viewed positively," he added.

The BBC poll coincides with a Gallup survey of Americans' attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians, as detailed by Shmuel Rosner in his current blog. As he notes, the poll shows sympathy for the Palestinian side rebounding, reaching its highest level since 1989.

In Jerusalem, a morning radio news report of the BBC poll noted that "Israel invests only $35 million a year for hazbara [loosely, political public relations], and even that budget was cut recently by 5 percent.

Perhaps more telling was the musical frame for the report - an old song whose lyrics go "The whole world is against us."

The whole world is against usIt's a very old tuneWhich our forefathers taught usTo croon and also to dance to.

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Recent blogs:

Why Israelis hate the left, or, How to Speak LeftistTen reasons the left hates Israel - five good, five badIn what state should Bibi run for the U.S. Senate?Is the BBC too pro-Israel? Is The NY Times?

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