This year’s Country Ratings Poll, conducted for the BBC World Service by GlobeScan/PIPA, surveyed over 26,000 people worldwide. The poll measured how positively or negatively respondents viewed 25 different countries.

Just six decades removed from the atrocities of the Holocaust, Germany now stands alone as the most positively-viewed country in the world, with 59 percent viewing the country favorably.

In contrast, Israel – partially borne out of the ashes of Nazi Germany’s genocide during World War II – is one of the least popular countries, finishing just ahead of North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran.

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How is it possible that, in such a compressed historical time period, a post-Holocaust Germany could become such a widely-admired country, while a newly-created Israel stands on the bottom of the world’s public opinion spectrum?

One answer being belted from the rafters is an all too predictable one: anti-Semitism!

However, the painful truth is this: while Germany as a country and a societal entity has largely (though not entirely) moved beyond the historical atrocities committed by the Nazis, the same unfortunately cannot be said for Israel.

Of course, there’s ample reason for this. Created in the wake of an unspeakable trauma and bordered by hostile nations, Israel (and Jewish Israelis) have perpetually been afraid for the country’s existence. The country has been obsessed by security concerns for over 60 years. And it is my view that, because of these factors, Israel has never had a chance to recover from a national, post-Holocaust PTSD that continues to fuel a self-perceived sense of collective victimhood despite its overwhelming military.

It is a collective sense of victimhood that has compelled Israel’s leaders to perpetually have their fingers on the trigger, and has been partially responsible for the human rights abuses and atrocities Israel continues to commit against the Palestinians.

And it is this aspect – Israel’s treatment of a powerless, stateless people – that has largely drawn the world’s ire.

 

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Israel’s continued subjugation of the Palestinians – its brutal occupation, illegal settlement enterprise, theft of Palestinian lands, and disinterest in pursuing peace initiatives – has inspired the world to look upon Israel with frustration and disdain.

Not because of anti-Semitism. But because of its actions.

Unfortunately, just like the modern-day GOP in America, Israeli leaders view the problem of its unpopularity as a public relations issue. It’s not the ideas or policies which are the root of the problem, merely their presentation.

Part of this magical thinking is fueled by the fact that in the United States, where ‘pro-Israel’ public relations campaigns are most intense, a majority (51 percent) of Americans still view Israel favorably.

However, not every country has an AIPAC, nor a Republican party wedded to hawkish, ‘pro-Israel’ stances for electoral reasons.

Israel will only become more popular – or, to borrow some biblical phrasing, a greater light unto the nations – once it makes peace with its past and with those Palestinians still held under its thumb.

And those who think otherwise are only contributing to Israel’s decline and the actions that is at the root of the way the world has come to view Israel: as a negative force.

Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG


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