by: Ilse Strauss
Wednesday, 21 March 2018 | Seven years ago, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly launched a survey to gauge the global happiness levels of its member states. The findings obtained from each of the UN’s member states were noted, processed and released as the first international report on global happiness in 2012. Known officially as the World Happiness Report, the document became a tool that allows heads of states to measure where their citizens fall on the global happiness scale.
The 2018 report was published last week, scoring 156 countries from the happiest to the least happy. The first ten slots went to the usual happiness superpowers like Denmark, Switzerland, Canada and the Netherlands, nations known for northern lights, neutrality, cheese and tulips. The 11th spot on the list went to Israel, a tiny nation embroiled in endless conflict and controversy, surrounded by hostile neighbors plotting its destruction.
The ten happiest countries this year are Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia. Although the Jewish state did not make the top ten, the people of the Promised Land are happier than the Americans, the British, the Germans and more than a 140 other nations. Israel also took the top spot as the most joyful state in the Middle East, with its neighbors Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt coming in at 88th, 90th and 122th place respectively. The bottom ten spots on the list went to Malawi, Haiti, Liberia, Syria, Rwanda, Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Burundi.
Each year, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network uses a variety of polling organizations, official figures and research methods to compile and publish the World Happiness Report ahead of UN World Happiness Day on March 20th. The report ranks countries by happiness levels according to six main factors: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom and generosity. The survey results are aimed at providing the powers that be with a tool to uplift the well-being of their citizens.
This is not the first time Israel secured a top spot on the World Happiness Report. The reports for the past five years all awarded the people of the Promised Land the 11th slot. The first report, which saw the light in 2012, placed Israel in the 14th position.
For the first time this year, the report also measured the happiness and well-being of 117 countries’ immigrants. The findings rank Israel 12th on the list of “happiness for the foreign born” and noted that Jews who left the former Soviet Union for Israel have much better lives than before they immigrated.
The World Happiness Report is not the only official document testifying to the presence of abundant joy in the Promised Land. According to the 2015 Better Life Index report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Jewish state is one of the top five happiest countries on earth. The Israelis share this joyful honor with the Danes, Swiss, Norwegians and Finns.
Moreover, according to the 2015 Family Life Index poll published by InterNations, the Promised Land is the fourth best place in the world to raise a family. Only Austria, Finland and Sweden reportedly offer a better environment for children to grow up in than Israel.
The Jewish state’s high rankings on official happiness lists have long since been a cause of speculation. In every conventional and hedonistic sense, the happiness odds appear to be stacked quite decidedly against those who call the Promised Land home.
On the security side of things, Israel is the only democracy wedged into one of the world’s most volatile regions. Its neighbors are at best inhospitable; at worst, violently opposed to its existence and making the Jewish state’s destruction their aim. Israel’s citizens are in the crosshairs of every terror group in the neighborhood, and the country has fought at least one major war every decade since its rebirth.
Moreover, the Jewish people are heirs to a legacy and history so tragic that it calls for three official annual days of mourning every year. On top of that, nearly 70 years after the establishment of the modern State of Israel, it remains one of the only countries in the world whose right to exist is called into question, its borders disputed, its exports embargoed and its efforts to defend itself vilified.
Acknowledging the curious case of the against-all-odds happy Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the finding of this year’s World Happiness Report, saying “People say, well, ‘How can that be? Must be a fluke. It’s a country in this horrible neighborhood; you’ve got terrorism; you’ve got radical Islam; you’ve got challenges.’ But it comes up ahead of most countries in the world.”
Over the years, speculation has been rife as to the wellspring of happiness for the people of the Promised Land. Many have argued cohesion, a sense of family and belonging, while others have pointed to the country’s thriving economy and status as a high-tech superpower.
Yet perhaps the source of Israel’s happiness comes from something ingrained in the hearts and minds of Jewish people throughout generations. “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God,” (Ps. 146:5), the psalmist declared thousands of years ago. Perhaps then the people of Israel have always known the secret joy unlimited.
Posted on March 21, 2018
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 21 March 2018)
Photo Credit: Dafna Tal/goisrael.com
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