Limeys down on Israel, Egypt

It seems that Brits really don't think much about Israel:
LONDON - British Jewish leaders on Tuesday said they were not surprised by a poll published in the Daily Telegraph on Monday showing that Britons consider Israel one of the most undemocratic, unsafe, unfriendly and unattractive countries in the world.


Well, I'm sure that's going to make a lot of Arabs happy -- especially the undemocratic bit, which shows that at least some people realize that countries that brutally occupy other countries shouldn't be considered democratic -- but they're also pretty down on Egypt, if you take a look at the top results:


British poll results


I'm particularly surprised that Egypt is considered, along with the US, as the fifth least friendly country -- quite on the contrary, both Egyptians and Americans tend to be known for their friendliness. For the least beautiful, OK sure most of the country is a rocky desert, but I thought most tourists went to the Red Sea, which is rather nice. After all Tony Blair has spent his Christmas holidays there for the past three years.

More seriously, it's obvious that these results were influenced by the reputation of the countries for their poverty or political situation. The occupation and treatment of Palestinians is what got Israel (a rather pretty country in the Mediterranean style with some very nice national parks in some parts) and Egypt must have suffered from the high profile given to the treatment of gays, among other things. All in all, a rather stupid poll which tells you more about Britain than anything else. Notice all the best countries are ones with a majority of white populations and former British colonies?
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.