In the World Happiness Index, Israel has now soared from ninth to fourth place. It’s an astonishing result, given that Israelis must live with the daily threat of terrorism, the massive effort to delegitimize the state through endless UN resolutions, the relentless BDS campaign, and the threat from a state actor – Iran – that is working to acquire nuclear weapons that it intends to use on the Jewish state. More on Israel’s spectacular rise in the Happiness Index can be found here: “Israel soars to 4th place in global happiness list, highest since ranking started,” Times of Israel, March 20, 2023:
The UN-sponsored index, based on data from 2020-2022, predates the government’s divisive judicial overhaul plan. The list is again topped by Finland, with the US 15th, Britain 19th and France 21st.
Israelis are the happiest they’ve been in over a decade, the World Happiness rankings revealed on Monday, though the findings predated the widespread social upheaval over the government’s judicial overhaul program and therefore could not take it into account.
Israel’s 2023 fourth-place ranking, up from ninth last year, is its highest position since the UN-sponsored index began publication in 2012.
The list crowned Finland as the world’s happiest country for the sixth year running, with Afghanistan again the unhappiest, closely succeeded by Lebanon.
The World Happiness Report, now in its 11th year, is based on residents of 137 countries’ own assessment of their situation, as well as economic and social data.
It assigns a happiness score on a scale of zero to 10, based on an average of data collected over a three-year period.
The survey utilized data collected between 2020 and 2022.
Anat Fanti, a social science researcher at Bar Ilan University, said that if the survey had been conducted after the judicial overhaul was revealed, “its results would be different and Israel’s ranking would have been harmed.”
She told the Ynet news outlet that the ranking could be explained by a strong economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, as well as “the level of hope and optimism among some populations as a result of the broad unity government” led by former prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, though that government was despised by many in the right wing.
No one can predict the long-term effect of the current divisions in Israel over the proposed judicial overhaul. If the demonstrations by those against, and those for, the judicial overhaul continue, they may indeed affect the happiness of Israelis. But if a compromise is achieved, the feeling of relief will be great, and that could lead to a feeling of euphoria that might end with Israel keeping its current rank, or close to it, on the World Happiness Index.
The latest edition of the index was the first to rank Russia and Ukraine since the outbreak of war in February 2022. In the 2023 report, Russia rose ten places to 70th, and Ukraine increased from 98th in 2022 to 92nd in 2023.
The United States improved by one place to 15th, while France dropped one spot to 21st. The Palestinian Authority was placed 99th….
The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, is now ranked 99th in the World Happiness Index. It’s not a surprise. The Palestinian are ruled by a corrupt gerontocrat, Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 19th year of his four-year term as President. During those nineteen years, Abbas has managed to divert so much aid money to his own pockets, and to those of his two sons Yasser and Tarek, that the Abbas family fortune now stands at $400 million USD. Other high-ranking PA officials have also been helping themselves to a few million dollars in money from foreign donors, and their relatives have been provided with well-paid sinecures in the PA administration. This continuing spectacle of colossal corruption at the top, while ordinary Palestinians have to struggle to survive, has led to great anger. In opinion polls, nearly 80% of Palestinians have said they want Abbas to resign, which of course he will never do. The Palestinians see Israel’s noisy, messy democracy at work, and only wish they could have the same political freedoms that Israelis enjoy, instead of the kleptocratic despotism they must endure. Israelis in the opposition may protest nonviolently all they want, as insultingly as they desire. In the PA, someone who expresses his opposition to the government in posts on social media will be imprisoned or, like Nizar Banat, be beaten to death by Abbas’ goons.
If Israelis did not have to worry about suicide bombers in pizza parlors and on busses and at Passover seders, if they didn’t have to worry about Palestinians shooting at them as wait at bus stops, or drive by Arab villages, if they didn’t have to worry about the 140,000 rockets and missiles now stowed away in hideouts in Lebanon, but at any moment could be launched against Israel once Iran gives the word, they might be even happier. If they didn’t have to worry about the terrorist groups Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, and the Lion’s Den, they would certainly be even happier. If they didn’t have to worry about Iran’s nuclear program proceeding apace, because once Iran manages to manufacture a few nuclear weapons, its leaders would pose a threat to the very existence of the Jewish state, the Israelis might be happier still. It’s quite astonishing that even with all those worries, Israel has now been ranked fourth in the World Happiness Index. If the terrorist threat were to greatly diminish, or the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran were to disappear, then where would Israel rank? No longer fourth but, most assuredly, first.