The Improbable Happiness of Israelis

(Wall Street Journal) Avinoam Bar-Yosef - The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranks Israel (Jews and Arabs) 11th of 158 countries evaluated for the UN. Israel also shines as No. 5 of the 36 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries on the OECD's Life Satisfaction Index - ahead of the U.S., UK, and France. How can this be so? Israelis live in a hostile and volatile neighborhood, engaged in an endless conflict with the Palestinians and under the threat of nuclear annihilation by Iran. A new study by the Jewish People Policy Institute found that 83% of Israel's Jewish citizens consider their nationality "significant" to their identity. More than 2/3 mention Jewish tradition as important. Strong families and long friendships stretching back to army service as young adults, or even to childhood, also foster a sense of well-being. In every aspect of Israel's existence there is plenty of room for improvement. Yet Israelis take comfort in looking back and savoring how much has been achieved, how sovereignty over the land of their forefathers was reclaimed. Jews from more than 90 countries, of all colors and walks of life, are united in one society. They cherish the sense of self-determination. The writer is president of the Jewish People Policy Institute and former chief diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli daily Maariv.

2016-05-11 00:00:00

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