“Global Peace Index” Offers Warped Window on the World (COMMENTARY MAGAZINE) Evelyn Gordon 06/19/12)
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The warped view of reality promoted by many “human rights”
organizations is nowhere more evident than in the various global
indexes they produce. I’ve written previously about the moral
obtuseness of, say, a religious freedom index that ranks Israel and
India – two countries where multiple faiths live and worship freely –
as no better than Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslim worship is legally
banned. The new 2012 Global Peace Index provides another stellar
Unsurprisingly, the Arab Spring caused the entire Middle East/North
Africa region to plummet in the rankings. But within this region, the
country that scored second-lowest, just above Iraq, is the only one
that has suffered no unrest whatsoever during the past year: Israel.
At 150, Israel ranks three places below Syria – a country where some
14,000 people have been killed the last year, mainly by their own
government. Yet Israel, whose citizens aren’t being slaughtered by
anyone (even terrorists have so far killed only two Israelis this
year), is deemed the less peaceful country.
Ordinary people, untroubled by the lofty concerns that motivate so-
called human rights groups, are voting the opposite with their feet:
Tourism to Israel is at record heights, while tourism to Syria is
nonexistent. But the folks at GPI clearly don’t let common sense
intrude on their metrics.
Israel also ranks a whopping 28 places below Eritrea. This would
undoubtedly surprise the tens of thousands of Eritreans who have
sought asylum in Israel in recent years, and been granted group
protection because the UN deems their country too dangerous for
forced repatriation. Needless to say, there has been no migration in
the opposite direction, nor does the UN deem Israel sufficiently
dangerous to entitle its emigrants to group protection. But once
again, the verdict that ordinary people are passing with their feet
is beneath GPI’s lofty concerns.
So what are those concerns? Well, according to GPI, a strong military
is anti-peace. Among the 23 factors it ranks, almost one-third relate
to military strength: “military expenditure,” “armed services
personnel,” “heavy weapons.” “weapons exports,” “weapons
imports,” “military capability” and “access to weapons” (high in a
country of citizen-soldiers like Israel, where most men serve for
three years and many do annual reserve duty for years afterward).
Yet if you live in a lousy neighborhood like the Middle East, a
strong military is actually essential to preserve peace. Indeed,
Israel’s military is a large part of why tourists still flock to the
country even as they shun neighboring Syria and Egypt: Not only has
it kept terrorism low, but it has also helped keep the unrest in
neighboring countries from spilling over. Hezbollah, for instance,
might well have attacked Israel in an effort to divert world
attention from Syria if it didn’t know a devastating response would
Many people naively take what human rights groups say at face value.
But in fact, as the Global Peace Index once again shows, these
organizations frequently offer a highly distorted view of reality.
Unless, of course, you really would prefer to spend your next
vacation in the charnel houses of Houla or Al Heffa rather than in
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