Israel one of world’s most unpopular countries and it’s getting worse: BBC survey

Israel is not only one of the world’s most negatively viewed countries, but its reputation is deteriorating, according to the BBC World Service’s latest global survey.

The US is now the only Western country that holds favorable views of Israel and in some European countries, including Germany, positive views of Israel are in the single digits.

The 2013 Country Ratings Poll, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA for the BBC among 26,299 people around the world between December 2012 and April 2013 found that:

Iran is once again the most negatively viewed country, with negative ratings climbing four points to 59%. Most people also give negative ratings to Pakistan (56%, up five points), North Korea (55%, up three points) and Israel (52%, up one point).

The persistent association of Israel with the world’s most negatively viewed countries will come as a disappointment to Israeli government and other hasbara officials who have invested millions of dollars in recent years to greenwash and pinkwash Israel as an enlightened, democratic and technological “Western” country.

US is only western country with favorable views of Israel

And the news only gets worse. Here are some of the highlights from the BBC poll:

  • On average, in the 22 tracking countries surveyed both in 2012 and 2013, 52 percent of respondents had negative views of Israel’s influence in the world, an increase of two points from last year.

  • Out of the 25 countries polled in 2013, 20 lean negative, three lean positive, and two are divided.

  • The United States is the only Western country surveyed holding favorable views of Israel, and the only country in the survey with a majority of positive ratings (51 percent, stable).

  • Views of Israel in Canada and in Australia remain entrenched in negative territory with respectively 57 and 69 percent of unfavourable views.

  • In the EU countries surveyed, views of Israeli influence are all strongly negative and have either hardened further or remained stable.

  • The United Kingdom is the most unfavorable country towards Israel in the EU with 72 percent of Britons holding negative ratings.

  • The UK is followed by Spain (70% negative) where views have deteriorated due to a loss of positive ratings, now at just 4 percent (down from 12 perent).

  • Positive views have dropped eight points in Germany over the past year, down to 8 percent in 2013 while negative inclinations have remained stable at 67 percent.

  • In France, the picture is stable with 21 percent giving positive views (vs 63 percent negative) France is the EU country with the highest proportion of favorable ratings.

  • Newly asked countries Poland and Greece have negative pluralities of 44 and 46 percent respectively, while just 15 percent lean positively towards Israel in both countries.

Also see from last year: “Israel’s popularity sinks even lower in 2012, new BBC global survey confirms.”




I'm Jewish and pro-Palestine. I oppose the Israeli government and its racist, apartheid, genocidal, or otherwise oppressive policies against Palestinians, Bedouins, immigrants, and other peoples marginalized by Israel. I oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Bedouin lands. So I agree that Israel should be an unpopular country, though I hope it's unpopular for the right reasons. Israel should be unpopular because its government is one that discriminates against and violates the human rights of its neighbors and citizens alike. I wonder how much of Israel's unpopularity is due to its apartheid and how much is due to anti-Semitism? Certainly, at least some of Israel's global unpopularity will be due to discrimination against Jews.

I wish that this survey had been more comprehensive. It should've allowed its takers to state their reason(s) for their negative views of Israel. My hope is that such a survey would be more effective and show that Israel's unpopularity is largely due to its policies rather than its Jewishness. I'm sure there'd be exceptions; the Iranian government, rather than the Iranian people, isn't exactly friendly towards Jews and that kind of propaganda might influence some of the public. But I'd be interested to see proof of the fact and I hope that Israel's unpopularity has mostly to do with its injustices. If the survey could clearly state as much, then the Israeli government couldn't twist this into another excuse to fear-monger and commit violence.


I am Muslim Palestinean. We call Jewish as our cousins, we have no issue from religion side and I am sure we can live together without any issue. I am against the land grap and occupation, injustice, etc. by israel government.


Response to Li: yes,I agree with you, I would hope that Israel's falling popularity arises from its actions and policies, principally those of the right wing government and the IDF, and not from racial stereotyping. I have Jewish friends (I am a US citizen of Palestinian and Lebanese origin) who recognize that Zionism has become a corrupting, racist ideology that has oppressed, if not enslaved, millions of Arabs and threatened many millions more. I would support a "one state" solution to the problem, but this will take decades of adaptation, forgiveness, understanding and healing in order to succeed. If the US really had Israel's best interests at heart, instead of continuing Carte Blanche military and political support, it would explain the hard truth and take actions accordingly. Unfortunately, AIPAC etc. have so intimidated Congress and Obama that no-one has acted correctly in eons. We just give lip service to the impossible two-state solution, knowing it will never happen, and keep on reinforcing the Israeli military-industrial complex (surely the most developed of these in the world) and alienating the rest of the globe with our support. Many thousands more will die, be oppressed, made homeless, and lose everything before anything improves. Very sad.


That is a good point that Israel could simply twist these results in their favor to garner even stronger Israeli nationalism. I also wish the polls were a bit more nuanced, allowing us to see whether people dislike the government or the people.

As far as I'm concerned I obviously disapprove of the government, but I have a hard time ignoring all the Israeli's who blatantly support their policies. Some Jews are also involved in settler violence, attacking Palestinians and so forth. I feel bad for these people more than angry, because I know that if the government did not feed them lies, they would not have the beliefs they do now. One day Israel, like some of the population does already, will look back at their history and be ashamed. The Palestinian occupation ruins the lives of the Palestinians and the moral compass of (some) Israeli's, so for the sake of both I hope peace can come.


That is not correct about Iran. Iran has legal protections especially for Jews. Iranian law guarantees that at least one Jewish-Iranian shall be elected to Parliament.

Thanks for your support of security and justice for the Palestinians.


Yes Iran has the second largest Jewish population in the middle east and they have rights..all through history jews were protected by Muslim s and christians hated them .when christians arrived jews fled with their protectors . The Muslims


"...the Iranian government, rather than the Iranian people, isn't exactly friendly towards Jews..." Actually, given that Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside Israel and that this community has, by and large, resisted attempts by the Israeli government to bribe it to "make Aliyah", I'm not so sure that this is justified (and I'm not as a rule a defender of the horrible Iranian government). Jews have a representative in Parliament, for what it's worth, and are probably treated no worse than the rest of the population of Iran.


There are around 200 thousand Persian jews in Israel, and only around 20 thousand at most left in Iran. The Iranian government's treatment following the Islamic revolution caused the vast majority to flee for their lives.

Thirteen Jews have been executed in Iran since the Islamic revolution, most of them for alleged connections to Israel. Among them, one of the most prominent Jews of Iran in the 1970s, Habib Elghanian who was the head of the Iranian Jewish community was executed by a firing squad by the Islamic government shortly after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 on the charge having had contact with Israel, among others. In May 1998, Jewish businessman Ruhollah Kadkhodah-Zadeh was hanged in prison without a public charge or legal proceeding, apparently for assisting Jews to emigrate.

The murder of an important leader like that can prompt mass flight. Which it did.


The reason why Jews left Iran is more political than religious. Most Persian Jews who left went to the US, especially LA, a minority went Israel, most likely because they could not get a greencard. Most Persian Jews were politically aligned with the Secular Shah before the revolution. After the revolution they just saw that they would be targeted politically and assumed they'll lose more than gain, so most left. Those who remained were just neutral in politics. Iranians have never really been that hostile to non muslim minorities, they hate sunnis more than Jews, Armenian christians or zorastrians.
Even up to today the sense of country, nationality and identity is strong among Persian jews in the US and Israel. Farsi newspapers even exist in Israel itself, and Persian Jews hang pictures of the Shah.
Most Jews live comfortable in Iran, trouble only exists if they align or support Israel in anyway. However families in Iran are allowed to visit Israel to visit relatives.


idiotic to begin with to use this "anti semitism" argument *yawn* ..
and its even more foolish and naive to make the suggestion that the actions of Israel against Palestinians , arent directly motivated by the Identity Israel gives itself , which is DIRECTLY linked to Zionist ethos ..

It's also quite well known that the JEWS are the ones persecuted in Israel and Palestine , and this is perpetrated BY the Zionists .. who by definition do not believe anyone OTHER than Zionists .. to be worthy humans , and who have stolen the"JEWISH" identity to hide their zionism and "chosen people" rhetoric behind.

Li: you seem like a relatively well trained Zionist troll , trying to hide behind some kind of political correct "consideration" of the palestinian people .. while hapily hiding behind your zionist connections..

better luck next time :)


I am not "Jewish" strictly speaking. I am of Jewish heritage several generations ago.
Many have declared themselves as superior civilizations and possess the entitlement
to cruelty. Often there is some "divinity" responsible for this "superiority". When
those "superior" have superior force as well, the consequences are lethal to say
the least. Christianity declared itself superior and its divinity enabled it to slaughter,
kill, burn etc. in the name of "God" (Crusades,inquisition, many wars etc.). Its
military superiority did not require technical superiority. The so-called "pilgrims" who
invaded, slaughtered Native Americans and occupied North America considered
themselves entitled. The British Empire had no doubts about its superiority and right to slaughter blacks or"natives" as it chose. The age of "social Darwinism"---the
19th century---spawned two versions of self-defined "superior" civilizations. National
socialists considered the teutonic world to be superior. It also claimed victimization
both immediately and historically. Zionism considered Jews to be superior and
thereby entitled to their "home"---for Jews only---- in Palestine. Jews were not only
victims by recent history (the Holocaust) but hundreds of years of history. In both
these cases superior civilization was devine or with "Aryans" theirs by right.
Both these groups from the same time-period of history see themselves as opposites
but fail to comprehend how ironically similar they are in concept. Human history
has many other examples. The master-slave relationship is a variation, the superior
being "civilized", the slave considered "uncivilized" and of worth only as property.
I wish more would comprehend the larger socio-historical concepts.


I agree with the comments completely. I have no problems with the Jewish faith or the muslim faith or any other kind of religion or faith. I have massive problems with this evil, cruel and barbaric state called Israel. It is running out of control and is hiding behind Uncle Sam, who appears to find no fault with anything Israel does. The list of crimes this rogue state has committed is very long. So YES! the world is slowly waking up. But please not all Jews are Israeli's, so hate the state but not all the citizens.


John well said.


Unlike many people, I do NOT oppose the State of Israel's existence as a jewish-majority nation-state, and I think there also needs to be an independent, sovereign Palestinian nation-state ALONGSIDE Israel, and NOT in place of it, the way lots of people advocate.

Therefore, the Israeli Government must be forced to change its policies and end their occupation of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, once and for all, since they do not belong to Israel.


You are right in asking for more detailed surveys. I find it very difficult to assess how much of the estimated increase in antisemitism in Germany, for instance, is racist or because Germans are becoming increasingly angry about Israel's policies, war crimes and apparent arrogance in the face of criticism, as well as their own inability to voice this anger in the face of "their terrible history". Some believe the old antisemitism if still alive. However, this does not explain German sentiments and I believe the last survey did not distinguish between sentiments about Jews and Israel, or Israel's government. Obviously there must be some antisemitism or racism against Jews, as Jews have been targeted, but so have Turks, Asians and dark-skinned people - much more so
I, in fact, would like to see a survey that determines, as far as that is possible, not only how much negativity is due to Israel's policies, but also whether those surveyed generally have negative feelings about the 'other', which include all the clichés that adhere to each group.
As I have never known any antisemites (that is, according to the dictionary, those with an irrational hatred towards Jews) and have always been interested in understanding differing levels of racial discrimination, conscious and unconscious, I prefer not to use the word or even think of discrimination against Jews as antisemitic. The term has taken on a life of its own, with it being slung around indiscriminately or used as a weapon, as well as the interminable debates on it. In a sense, the term has been so abused that it has lost its original meaning.


Well, c'mon. This is quite obviously happening because 1) the entire world except Israel is anti-semitic, of course, and 2) the entire world except Israel and the US are terrists, of course.

Clear understanding is all a matter of using your head and having the proper perspective you see, see?


"The United Kingdom is the most unfavorable country towards Israel in the EU with 72 per cent of Britons holding negative ratings."

Coming from UK myself I am not surprised by these findings. IF an article concerning Israel / Palestine does make it into any of the four 'broadsheet' newspaper websites, AND comments are enabled, the anti Israel comments are in the region of 75% of total for both the Guardian and the Independent, not so for the Times who, with Murdoch at the helm, have always been a mouthpiece of Zionist propaganda, and the Telegraph is typically conservative and supports whoever is buying the most advertising.

Without question there is a concerted effort to keep Israel / Palestine news items out of all these newspapers and many do not have the comments enabled, I presume because the Zionist paymasters do not want the world to see just how disliked Israel has become.

It is my opinion that the anti Israel sentiment in UK has risen dramatically in the last eighteen months or so, and BDS continues to attract more support from all sections of society.

Alan Hart has pointed out that Zionists are the Jews worst enemy due to their insistence of labeling anyone who dares to criticise Israel as anti semitic. People like myself who have been active all their lives in opposing injustice be it apartheid in South Africa, contras in South America, US imperialism in Vietnam, UK government oppression of Catholics in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan wars etc etc are profoundly indignant at being labeled racist simply for speaking out at the appalling injustice and barbarity of Israel's treatment of Palestinians. If there are any Zionists reading this you might like to consider that the more you shout your 'anti semitic' accusations, the more determined we become to do everything that we can do to support the Palestinian cause and I hope to see the day when Netanyahu is in the dock at the ICC charged with crimes against humanity.


Add bush, Chaney, and Blair. They should all be charged with crimes against humanity


I think that this survey is most consistent with negative news coverage. Pakistan, Iran, and Israel are all in the international news and are depicted negatively. The first two receive a good amount of coverage in the West, while Israel receives it in the EU. You must also consider anti-Semitism. How many Germans viewed the Nazi party favorably during WWII? Not every popular statistic means it is morally correct.


Zionism and its offspring-Israel-has tainted Judaism and Jews-by its behavior since its own declaration of statehood in 1948. Ignoring T. Hertzel's admonition to not discriminate against other ethnicities or religions, it violently expelled close to a million Palestinians from their homes and destroyed over 500 villages. The refugees and their descendants live today in refugee camps in utter, hopeless squalor. We know of the atrocities and the brutality of the current Occupation and we see a smirking prime minister pleading for " peace" when he has no intention of ever relinquishing land to the Palestinians.
It is difficult being respected solely for being Jewish when the symbol of Judaism represented by Israel is seen as arrogant, cruel, evil, and oblivious to world opinion and censure.


Good comments by Joseph, but I would be curious to know where, in what context and circumstances Herzl cautioned against discrimination against other ethnicities and religions. He had no compunction whatsoever against Ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.


Israel must be forced to relinquish the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, stop the harsh treatment of Palestinian Civilians, and to not only relinquish the above-mentioned territories to the Palestinians, but to also cede control of the water and airspace of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as well. Israel must do her part by withdrawing from those territories...immediately and allow the Palestinians to create their own independent, sovereign nation-state ALONGSIDE Israel, and NOT in place of it, the way lots of people want. It's not too late, and it can and should be be done!


Yes, I would like to see from Li some FACTS supporting the claim that "the Iranian government....isn't exactly friendly towards Jews" and what exactly "kind of propaganda might influence some of the public". Before then, sorry, I could see mostly anti-Iranian propaganda's influence on Li...
Now, the real question is - given the tons of hasbara against Iran and North Korea in the Western imperialist media (and some anti-Pakistani as well), is it not funny that still much-supported and whitewashed Zionist state fares not much better than their official foes of the imperialism?


Hertzel was a colonizer just like other Zionists. Zionism is impossible without ethnic cleansing, and Hertzel is Zionism's founding father.


Actually, Zionism in its earliest forms had nothing to do with ethnic cleansing. Zionism is an ideology which has been shaped by different Israeli leaders and has taken different forms. I would suggest that you do more reading on this topic.


Depends who you read !

'Moshé Machover, ‘Israelis and Palestinians: conflict and resolution’

“The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man” – Zionist observers’ cable to Vienna, 1897, on the suitability of Palestine as the site for a revived Jewish state.............Thus the Zionist project, whilst recognising that “another man” was married to “Eretz Yisrael”, nonetheless determined to wrest the same from that man – just because it was “Eretz Yisrael”: ie, rightfully the possession of Jews, not Arabs..............The Zionist state was never meant to belong to its inhabitants, whoever they may be......As for the Arabs, they may at best be tolerated, and even then only in small numbers.


If that's not a statement of intended ethnic cleansing I don't know what is.

" I would suggest that you do more reading on this topic." !


Alec, the link you provided though interesting, counters your point. Here is one quote from the same man you are talking about.

'The transfer of land and the displacement of the poor must be done gently and carefully. "


"Displacement", definition: dislocation. Synonyms: eviction, exile, expatriation, expulsion, extradition.

If those are not words of intended ethnic cleansing I don't know what is. !


OK, I will put it another way - to "gently and carefully" done ethnic cleanising IS ethnic cleanising. Not mentioning, that the people who are "gently and carefully" ethnic cleansed could not be happy (ungreatful!!!), so the "gentle and careful" Zionist colonizers could be "forced" to use , you know NOT too "gentle and careful" force - because of stupidity of natives, sure.

Nick and other Zionists, it seems, just cannot see how awful is such "gentle and careful" Zionist plans, but we see it.


Zionism was a settler colonialist enterprise, and Hertzl was one to shape it thus. Some other - "cultural" Zionists had no ibfluence to the mass colonisation and thus is not of importance at all reagarding the reality of Zionist colonisation of Palestine.

By the way, Nick still has not gave us an example of Israel being willifyed by the Western mainstream media (imperilaist one, not to mince words) - at least at the half of zeal the same media do with Iran or North Korea - NOT colonialist and not-aggressive states, unlike Israel.

So, it seems it is Nick who has to do some reading before posting here. Here is NOT one of pro-Zionist imperialist media, we are not going to lap hasbara.


I never said that Western media treats Iran worse than Israel, only that the negative perception of both countries both come from negative depictions in the media, albeit in different places. Insulting people's intellect and honesty, and saying things like 'hasbara' is not a great way to make your point.


I asked him to provide an exapmple of typical "mainstream" Western media treating Israel HALF as critical as Iran. Not MORE critical, but at least half LESS.
Israel is constantly white-, pink- and greenwashed by the same media, while Iran is 24/7 villified - no wonder, because such media are but tool of Western imperilaism. So, it is no wonder that Iran is seem by the majority of recepients of such "free" media as a monster (which is it not). But some few tepid criticisms of Israel in the same media sure is not enough to put Zionists in their place of "honor". There should be another explanation - i.e. that Zionist crimes are SO horrid that even the imperialist media hard work could not negate them.


Nick, you should read "Might Over Right" by Adel Safty, which reveals many documented racist and discriminatory policies, mainly by Weizmann, who also called the Palestinian Arabs "trash" in a letter to his wife. But Herzl said: ...the Zionists in Palestine would "constitute...part of the rampart against Asia, we would occupy the outposts of civilization, stemming the tide of barbarism." Much of the book is based on archives, letters, military documents, minutes of parliamentary meetings, colonial administration memos, and so on. Zionists intrigued to obtain land and power by fair (if you call alliance with imperial powers, systematic propaganda and exerting constant pressure on British politicians fair) and foul means (deception and naked force). The revisionists were even worse, and it is their legacy that runs Israel now.
Instead of "Actually, Zionism in its earliest forms had nothing to do with ethnic cleansing", I think it is more precise to say, ethnic cleansing took many different forms from the very beginning.


Separating Jews and Israel is made far more difficult by Israel, who have no desire to view them separately. Labelling all who oppose them as anti-semitic suits their purpose.

As for anti-semitism itself, it is inevitable that it will rise when Israel commits so many war crimes that no-one can keep track of them. Regrettable, certainly, but sadly inevitable. Israel isn't doing Jews any favours by its actions.

The only solution is for Israel to pull back to the green line and relinquish control of Palestinian air space and waters. But they won't do it.

I am one of the clear majority of Brits (72% in the article) that oppose Israel. I have nothing against Jews myself, but Israel themselves make it harder for many people to make that distinction. This is bad for Jews in, say, the UK, but I don't think Nutty Yahoo cares about them.


It's my understanding that the majority of European, American and Israeli Jews alike support the two-state solution, and advocate ceding West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, evacuating Israeli troops and rightwing Israeli Jewish settlers from those territories, ceding control of the territories' airspace and water to the Palestinians, and allowing the Palestinians to create their own independent, sovereign nation-state alongside Israel, with East Jerusalem as the nascent State of Palestine's Capitol.

It's true that Netanyahu doesn't care about Israeli Jews or Jews anywhere, but he doesn't care about the Palestinians, either. Unfortunately, one really big obstacle to peace on both sides of this decades-long debacle is the persistent refusal on the part of Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike to openly and squarely face up to their accountability in this conflict. Until that happens, real steps towards a just and lasting peace will not be possible. This may seem like a small step, but it would be a big step in the right direction, imho.


"the persistent refusal on the part of Israeli Jews and Palestinians ALIKE to openly and squarely face up to their accountability in this conflict"
I object to any equation of Israeli and Palestinan accountability. It simply is not historically correct. If you wish to discuss accountability, then you must go back as far as 1917 and even before. If one is faced with all-encompassing injustice and then is pressured to accept a slightly lesser part of it so as to be ALLOWED (another word I object to) the remote possibility of some justice at all, then it is surely understandable that one refuses to submit to the pressure.