British citizens think worse of Israel than they do about any other non-European country except for North Korea, The Chatham House Yougov Survey found.
The survey was conducted in August 2014 at a time when the international context was turbulent and the news agenda dominated by different conflicts. The West and Russia were competing in a struggle over the future of Ukraine. Israel was engaged in a ruthless military operation in Gaza against Hamas that caused large numbers of civilian casualties. The Syrian civil war continued unabated while the multinational IS terrorists seized control of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
The report explores the attitudes of the public and of opinion-formers to international affairs. The first section explores attitudes to the UK’s role in the world, including the level of its ambition, the role of ethical concerns in its foreign policy, what its priorities should be, and who its allies and partners are. The second section examines attitudes to European integration, including views on a potential referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, as well as wider attitudes to the benefits and costs of membership, and the priorities for EU reform.
Friends, allies and adversaries
Answering the question “Which of the following do you feel especially unfavorable toward?” 35 percent named Israel – scoring two points worse than Iran.
● Within Europe, northern countries are viewed most favourably by the public. The Netherlands is ranked highest, for the fourth time in a row. There is a 9-point increase since 2012 in those saying they have ‘especially favourable’ views towards the Netherlands, from 24% to 33%. The fact that the survey was conducted shortly after the shooting down over Ukraine of flight MH17 with 196 Dutch citizens aboard may have generated particular sympathy. The other places in the top five are taken by northern European countries: Sweden, Norway, Ireland and Germany.
● Within Europe, Russia and Ukraine are viewed most unfavourably : 56% say they have especially unfavourable views of Russia, while 23% are unfavourable towards Ukraine. The large spike in unfavourable views of Russia, which have risen by 26 points since 2012, is presumably a public response to Russian actions in Ukraine. Meanwhile, views of Ukraine are identical to those recorded in 2012. Turkey comes third in the unfavourability ranking with 17%.
● Beyond Europe, traditional allies from the Commonwealth continue to be viewed most favourably by the public. Australia tops the list of states outside Europe, as it has done in each edition of the survey, with 47% of the public saying they feel especially favourable, followed by Canada (44%), the United States (33%) and Japan (15%). North Korea is viewed most unfavourably (47%), followed by Israel (35%). The number of those viewing Israel unfavourably has increased by 18 points since 2012, presumably in response to the controversial military campaign in Gaza and the civilian casualties it caused, which were prominent in the news at the time the survey was conducted. Iran (33%) is the third most unfavourably viewed country, though its rating is down by 12 points compared with 2012. Pakistan (28%) and Nigeria (21%) complete the top five.