Evaluating happiness may be the psychological equivalent of trying to nail Jello to a tree. It’s a slippery business.
Measuring happiness is nothing like measuring the gas mileage of your car. You can’t write down a few easily available numbers, do a simple calculation, and derive a solution with pencil and paper.
Happiness is far more elusive. It’s subjective, not objective. It’s based on emotion, not observable fact. It’s potentially here today but gone tomorrow.
Nonetheless, social scientists measure happiness. They’ve come up with methods to identify, classify and evaluate what they call ‘subjective happiness factors’. They’ve created measurement tools. They’ve designed definitions, statistical models and protocols. Now they share the results of all this work in a World Happiness Index.
The 2016 World Happiness Index ranks the happiness of 157 nations (the UN has 193 member states). The Index explains its science. It explains its methodology. It presents its conclusions.
Take a moment. Think about the question, how happy are the nations of our world? Are rich nations happier than poor nations? Are nations free of conflict happier than those engaged in conflict?
For example, Americans live in the world’s wealthiest nation. Does that make Americans the happiest people?
Communists argue that Communism is better than Capitalism. Are the Communist superpowers Russia and China happier than the US?
How about Israel’s so-called peace partners, the people of the Palestinian Authority? How happy are they?
Surely, they should be happy. The UN overwhelmingly supports them. The EU and US support them. Everyone seems to cheer for them.
Come to think of it, what about Israel? Israel is so roundly and repeatedly demonized, attacked and vilified, could anyone in Israel possibly be happy?
This is an important question for Jews, especially those outside Israel. Many of these Jews claim they’d never move to Israel because life here in the Holy Land is, supposedly, so difficult and dangerous it’s perfectly grim. Does the 2016 World Happiness Index validate this belief?
Look at the numbers. According to the 2016 World Index Report, Israelis (including Arab-Israelis) are ranked as the 11th happiest people in the world. These Israelis, so vilified by the world’s media, are happier than Americans (ranked 13th). We are happier than the Germans (16th), the Austrians (12th), the Italians (50th) and the Japanese (53rd).
So far as those wonderful Communists are concerned, the Russians are ranked 56th. The Chinese rank 83rd.
Israelis, it turns out, are a very happy people.
In fact, when you compare Israelis’ happiness to that of citizens in countries which tend to demonize Israel, you’ll notice something strange: Israelis are happier than all of them.
For example, one could make a case that some of the world’s most aggressively anti-Israel media appear in such countries as France, Belgium, Britain, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Iran and Turkey, to name just a few. But none of these countries ranks higher on the Happiness Index than Israel.
Again, Israel ranks 11th in happiness. By contrast, Belgium ranks 18th. Britain ranks 23rd. France ranks 32nd. Turkey ranks 78th. Iran ranks 105th. The Palestinian Authority ranks 108th. Egypt ranks 120th .
In the entire Arab world, the happiest Arab country is the United Arab Emirates. It ranks 28th, some 17 places below Israel. The least happy Arab country is Syria (156th).
What’s going on here? Why is the vilified Jew of Israel so happy?
The answer is simple. We are happy in Israel because we live a dream fulfilled. We have returned to our ancestral homeland. We have reconstituted our sovereign nation. Once again—as promised—HaShem our G-d has made our desert blossom. We grow stronger every year, despite the hate that vilifies us—and despite our internal challenges.
We’ve become the can-do nation. We are called, the start-up nation. We are the world’s water superpower (Seth Siegel, “How Israel Became a Water Superpower”, Huffington Post, April 20, 2016). We are on the road to becoming a High Tech superpower (Steve Forbes, “How The Small State Of Israel Is Becoming A High-Tech Superpower”, Forbes, July 22, 2015).
In sum, Israel exemplifies the power of hope. We lead the world in showing what you can do when hope is channeled into positive works.
So why are these happy and hope-filled Jews so vilified? This answer to this question might also be simple: almost half the world’s population (Christians and Muslims) have been raised on some form of Jew-hate. Even today, Christian denominations demonize the Jewish Israel. Even today, Muslim preachers refer to Jews in Israel as apes and pigs who should be slaughtered.
Take another look at the Happiness rankings of the nations listed above. None of them are as happy as Israelis.
Israel’s level of hope and happiness evades them. Apparently, they’re too filled with Jew-hate to be happy.