By Dovid Ben-Meir
The World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. According to this year’s report Israel is once again in the eleventh place, above the United States and others. The closest Arab state is the United Arab Emirates, listed at 21. Our immediate neighbors are Jordan at 74, Lebanon at 88, and Egypt at 104. The area under the direct rule of Palestinian Authority is pegged at 103.
Since the United Nations is a notoriously anti-Israel organization – if they say that Israel is eleventh in the happiness index, I’ve got to believe them!
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Simultaneously the Bloomberg Health Index for 2017 places Israel at 9, with the closest Arab state being Lebanon at 32.
So it would seem that Israel is the happiest and healthiest country in the Middle East, by a wide margin. Israel – the Jewish state – has a sizable non-Jewish minority, Arabs both Christians and Muslims, Druze and others. They can enjoy the same happiness and health ratings. Looking around the Middle East it would seem that the best place to live is Israel, even if you’re a Muslim Arab, or perhaps especially if you’re a Muslim Arab.
What about the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria, perhaps they would prefer living under Israeli rule? Here’s an entirely unscientific yet revealing sample that I read. All names have been changed twice over so that the people aren’t visited by the Palestinian police in the middle of the night.
Hassan says that in area B and C they live well with the Jews. The Jews buy from Arabs, brings their cars to Arab garages for fixing and Arabs buy from Jews. When Abu Mazen declares a boycott of settlers’ products – it hurts the local populace, not Abu Mazen and the other prominent leaders who spend half their time abroad. Politics don’t interest Hassan and his friends; they just want to live well. He can’t understand why they can’t go back to the time of Israeli rule, before the Palestinian Authority (PA) came and harmed the lives of the Arabs with pipe dreams of a Palestinian state.
Mahmoud wants his village to become part of Israel. His relative is sick and can’t receive treatment in Ramallah because it’s too expensive and economic assistance is available only to those with connections to the PA, not for the simple guy.
Mustafa is young and grew up with the PA. But he was once hospitalized in an Israeli hospital and got to know real Israelis who turned out to be very different than the caricature he learned from the PA media. He thinks that the more Israelis and Palestinians would get to know each other – there would be more peace.
Salim says he hopes Israel annexes area C – including his village. He says, “Understand, Palestinians want to live under Israeli rule! They’re fed up with the dark-ages rule of the PA, that we call a band of thieves. In the media they talk about the cruel occupation army, but if you ask a Palestinian: who would you prefer arrests you, the Israelis or the PA? – they would all answer: The Israelis! Why? Because they know that Israel treats those arrested with dignity, there are orderly courts and rule of law and the jails have proper living conditions. The PA police are cruel and can arrest anyone for any pretense. This is a reign of fear. Any Palestinian who would have the chance to live under Israeli rule would jump for that chance!”
Ali says he wished things changed for the better and his village would become part of Israel. He say, “I wish I could take my car and go to Tel Aviv like the days before the Oslo Accords”.
As Ali is saying this, a car drives by and stops. Young Farid says defiantly that there should be just one state, Palestine, and that the Jews should all leave. Ali asks Farid’s father, sitting next to Farid: “When were our lives better – when we lived under Israeli rule or today under the PA rule?”
Farid’s father, Salah, says decisively: “Under Israeli rule!”
Looking at the UN happiness report – it’s no wonder they would prefer Israel.