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October 5, 2009
Israel and the Arab world, in UN statistics
The United Nations today (Oct. 5) released its 2009 human development report, which provides an annual scorecard on living standards in more than 180 nations. They are ranked according to such factors as public health (life expectancy), education (adult literacy) and subsistence income (per capita GDP).
This year, Israel is listed in the top column (very high human development) with an overall ranking of 27th -- just behind South Korea and a notch ahead of Andorra.
Considering the security strains on Israel's budget, the constant need to fight terrorism on multiple fronts, and absorption of diverse populations of Jews from all parts of the world, Israel's position among the world's top 30 countries when it comes to living standards is nothing short of remarkable. Britain and Germany, for example, are only a few points ahead of Israel, ranked respectively 21st and 22nd.
What is even more remarkable is that Israel, when it comes to living standards, tops all Arab states, including all the oil-rich ones, and whose right to exist is under no threat.
Trailing Israel are Kuwait (31st), Qatar (33rd), United Arab Emirates (35th), Libya (55th), Oman (56th), Saudi Arabia (59th), Lebanon (83rd), Algeria (104th) and Syria (107th).
Iran, with all of its oil wealth, also trails Israel by a wide margin in 88th position.
And what about the "Occupied Palestinian Territories" as the UN report terms them? Despite the depredations of Hamas and the weak-kneed leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, they still benefit greatly from educational and public health facilities originally provided by Israel and, of course, by being the world's most pampered welfare clients.
They are ranked 110th -- ahead of Indonesia, Honduras and Bolivia.
Even more significantly, living standards in Gaza and the West Bank are superior to Egypt's (123rd) and Morocco's (130th).
To round out the picture, Norway holds the No. 1 spot, followed by Australia, Iceland, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Japan.
The United States logs in at 13th, behind Finland and just ahead of Austria, Spain and Denmark.
Niger (182nd) is dead-last.
Statistics to ponder and plumb for some important reality checks.