Two weeks ago, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid — both former partners of Netanyahu in past coalition governments — conducted an “emergency conference” at the Knesset aptly named “Fighting for Israel’s International Status.” The two opposition members attacked the PM’s foreign policy, or, as former Foreign Minister Lieberman put it, “Netanyahu is trying to take the Israeli Foreign Service and destroy it by force.” Lieberman also attacked Netanyahu’s confused leadership style, saying, “The government can’t have three or four different positions.”
Lapid for his part charged that “the deterioration of the situation is dramatic. The BDS movement is gaining power, the international institutions, and the UN as well, are leading an anti-Israel line. There’s a crisis with the American administration, there’s a crisis with the European Union, the world media are leading a serious slanderous anti-Israel line, aided by anti-Israel organizations.” Then he added with a flourish, “Our international standing has never — throughout the state’s history from 1948 until today — been this bad.”
In response to all this criticism of his policy, foreign and domestic, but mostly foreign, Netanyahu boasted on Monday—two weeks later—that Israel is not in bad shape at all, and was even ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world in Wharton University’s “Best Country in the World” survey.
The Wharton School is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League college located in Philadelphia. The Wharton survey evaluated 60 nations across 24 rankings on a wide range of criteria, from sustainability to economic influence. The United States was named the most powerful country and India has the No. 1 up and coming economy. Germany is the best country for Entrepreneurship, Luxembourg is the most business friendly, Italy is the country with the richest tradition and Brazil is the No. 1 nation to visit. Canada tops the list of countries with the best quality of life. Syria has the finest civil war and Iran the greatest public hangings. OK, those last two we made up. But you get the point, the survey is as random and arbitrary as they come, especially since it is based on the personal views of 16,248 people from 36 countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa, of which about 8,000 were college-educated, middle- or upper-class individuals, 4,500 were “business leaders,” and the rest belonged to the general public.
It’s a very silly approach to ranking anything, since about half of the rankings were done by people who didn’t actually live in the countries they rated, and the polling used an average of 450 respondents per ranked country. It’s the type of polling that convinced Gov. Chris Christie he could win the GOP presidential nomination.
And that’s the statistical data PM Netanyahu cited to prove his nemesis wrong. “The left-wing parties held an emergency political conference today,” Netanyahu said (insulting both Lapid and Lieberman). He added with a smirk, “There are those who choose to rattle on and hold political conferences and those who work to strengthen international alliances in order to secure our future here. At the end of the day it is our power, this power, that guarantees our future and it will also lead to our enemies reconciling with us and we will continue working in that direction.”
“Israel was ranked as the number eight world power in the world based on three things: Military power, international influence and, notice how they put it — international alliances. I didn’t choose to say it, they did. They rank us for our international power and our international alliances,” Netanyahu declared.