Charting the decline in Israel's global reputation

June 6, 2013
Sarah Benton

Views of China and India Slide While UK’s Ratings Climb: Global Poll

Globescan poll for the BBC
June 2013



Evaluations of Israel’s influence in the world have slipped a little further into negative territory in 2013. On average, in the 22 tracking countries surveyed both in 2012 and 2013, 52 per cent of respondents had negative views of Israel’s influence in the world, an increase of two points from last year. At the same time, the proportion of respondents giving Israel a favourable rating has remained stable at 21 per cent. Out of the 25 countries polled in 2013, 20 lean negative, three lean positive, and two are divided.

The USA is the only Western country surveyed holding favourable views of Israel, and the only country in the survey with a majority of positive ratings (51%, stable). Views in Canada and in Australia have remained entrenched in negative territory with respectively 57 and 69 per cent 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 UK is the most unfavourable country towards Israel in the EU with 72 per cent of Britons holding negative ratings, a figure in line with the percentage observed in 2012. The UK is followed by Spain (70% negative) where views have deteriorated due to a loss of positive ratings, now at just 4 per cent (down from 12%). Positive views have dropped eight points in Germany over the past year, down to 8 per cent in 2013 while negative inclinations have remained stable at 67 per cent. In France, the picture is stable with 21 per cent giving positive views (vs 63% negative) France is the EU country with the highest proportion of favourable ratings. Newly asked countries Poland and Greece have negative pluralities of 44 and 46 per cent respectively, while just 15 per cent lean positively towards Israel in both countries.

In peripheral Europe, views have cooled in Russia with the opinion shifting from being divided in 2012 (25% positive vs 26% negative) to leaning negative in 2013 (23% vs 32%). In Turkey, public sentiment towards Israel remains as strongly negative as in 2011. Over four in five Turks (81%) hold unfavourable views of Israel while just 8 per cent hold positive ones.

The picture is even more negative in Egypt where unfavourable views have reached a record high of 96 per cent in 2013 (up 11 points since 2012). Only 1 per cent of Egyptians hold positive views (down from 7%).

Apart from the USA, the most favourable views of Israel are found in two sub-Saharan countries. In Ghana, views have notably improved since 2012 and shifted from being divided to leaning positive this year. Forty-four per cent of Ghanaians say they consider Israel’s influence in the world mainly positive. This is up 25 points since 2012, but views have also 30 become more polarised with an increase in negative views (32%, up 13 points). In Kenya, a stable plurality leans favourably towards Israel (42%), and overall views have gotten warmer as negative views have dropped 16 points to 15 per cent. Nigeria bucks this favourable trend, where public opinion has shifted from leaning strongly positive in 2012 (54% positive vs 29% negative) to being divided in 2013 due to a 19-point drop in positive views combined with an 11-point increase in unfavourable ratings (35% positive vs 38% negative).

In the Latin American countries surveyed, views have remained fairly stable and negative in Chile (29% positive vs 41% negative), Brazil (15% vs 58%), and Peru (16% vs 40%). In Mexico, views have soured. A majority of 53 per cent leans negatively towards Israel—by far the highest percentage recorded among Mexicans since tracking began there in 2007—and only 13 per cent post favourable ratings (down six points).

Indonesia and Pakistan complete the increasingly negative picture seen among the Muslim countries surveyed regarding perceptions of Israel. Views have continued to worsen in Pakistan (65% negative, up 15 points) and in Indonesia, where negative ratings have gone up nine points to 70 per cent.

In the rest of Asia, negative attitudes have also increased among the Japanese: 54 per cent lean unfavourably in 2013, up from 45 per cent last year. Indian attitudes remain stably negative (16% positive vs 26% negative). South Koreans also have negative perceptions but the picture is less critical than it was last year, as the proportion of unfavourable ratings has diminished to 56 per cent (down 13 points) while positive ratings have remained stable at 23 per cent. Finally, the views of the Chinese public have become much warmer and shifted from leaning strongly negative in 2012 (23% vs 45%) to being divided this year due to a significant decrease in negative ratings and a rise in positive views (32% vs 33%).

Country ratings

See also US only country where majority have positive view of Israel

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