According to a US-based think tank, Israel is in greater danger of becoming a failed state than the likes of Botswana, Cuba, Turkmenistan, Benin, Jordan, and Tunisia. In fact, of the 177 nations ranked on the Fund for Peace’s 2012 Failed State Index (FSI), Israel (#62) is in the ‘Very High Warning’ category along with Iran (34), Angola (49), Lebanon (45), and Tanzania (66).
The findings are curious given Israel’s booming economy, high life expectancy, abundant educational opportunities, and low unemployment.
So what’s the explanation for its low FSI ranking? The West Bank. According to the Fund for Peace’s methodology, Israel/West Bank is considered one entity when determining its Failed States Index score.
Nate Haken, a Senior Associate at the Fund for Peace, admits that the inclusion of the West Bank makes Israel’s situation “particularly unique” and “somewhat difficult” for the purposes of creating a universal index. But, he says that “scoring Israel without the West Bank would do even less justice to the complexities and pressures on the state.”
Scoring Israel without the West Bank would do even less justice to the complexities and pressures on the state
“Note that the index measures pressures on the state,” says Haken. “This is not a measure of state performance, although it can be used by policy makers to prioritize and monitor progress and risk over time. Pressures include both exogenous factors and endogenous factors. Some pressures are the result of factors completely outside of the state’s control. But even then, the state must manage those pressures to mitigate conflict risk.”
A former AIPAC spokesperson and J Street’s current Director of Government Affairs both agree that the methodology is dubious, but J Street’s Dylan Williams calls it “chillingly ironic” that Israel and the West Bank are rated as a single state. He says it is a warning for opponents of a two-state solution.
“Although the methodology is questionable, [the survey] provides a bleak look into the one-state nightmare that awaits the State of Israel absent the establishment of a Palestinian state,” says Williams.
Although the methodology is questionable, [the survey] provides a bleak look into the one-state nightmare that awaits the State of Israel absent the establishment of a Palestinian state
“Moves like those recommended by the Levy Committee put both Israelis and Palestinians on a path toward a single state that is either reviled for the disparities and deprivations highlighted in this report, or which is forced to address them by granting full political rights to its non-Jewish majority. Only the two-state solution can provide both peoples with a more promising future in a state of their own.”
In a similar vein, Ghaith al-Omari, the Executive Director of the American Task Force on Palestine, says the Failed States Index “is just more proof that the current situation is unsustainable and unhealthy for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
“It underlines the need for a two state solution in which both peoples will have the freedom to flourish,” says al-Omari, whose group advocates for a two-state solution.
Josh Block, a former AIPAC spokesperson and current Senior Fellow at the Progressive Public Policy Institute, suggests that The Fund for Peace “should go back to the drawing board if this is what their formulas are actually spitting out, especially if they have an interest in integrity and credibility.”
“This list is another example of NGOs creating arbitrary criteria, or worse, and coming up with ludicrous conclusions regarding Israel,” says Block.
This list is another example of NGOs creating arbitrary criteria, or worse, and coming up with ludicrous conclusions regarding Israel
“Last month, the Global Peace Index rated Syria, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen as more peaceful than Israel. This month, it’s the Failed States Index ranking Mali, which has been split in half by civil war, more stable than Israel.”
On its website, The Fund for Peace describes itself as an independent, nonpartisan research organization “that works to prevent conflict and promote sustainable security.” According to the 2012 Failed States Index, Somalia (1) and Congo (2) are the world’s most unstable nations while Sweden (176) and Finland (177) enjoy the highest degree of sustainability.