Newsweek has deigned to rank the top 100 countries in the world – giving Israel the 22nd slot, and number one in the Middle East.
The current issue of the international weekly ranks the countries according to five categories. Israel finished 7th in health, 15th in economic dynamism, and 25th in what Newsweek called “quality of life.” The Jewish state scored 27th in political environment, but only 41st in education.
Nevertheless, Israel’s education score was higher than all other Middle East countries; Jordan was number 44, and Syria - 46. An anomaly was found here, however, in that while Israel's literacy rate was found to be 97.1%, Jordan's is only 90%, and Syria's is under 80%. The United States, at 99%, scored 26th in education. Thus, 15 places separate the U.S. from Israel, even though their literacy rates are practically the same, while only 5 places separate Syria from Israel, though Israel's literacy rate is 25% higher.
In terms of average years of schooling, the numbers for the U.S., Israel, Jordan and Syria were 15.8, 15.6, 12.8, and 10, respectively.
Among Islamic countries, only one – Kazakhstan – scored ahead of Israel in education.
In terms of political environment – another term for democracy, apparently – Israel, at #27, far outranked Arab and Middle Eastern countries. Turkey topped the non-Jewish Middle Eastern states, scoring #64 on the world listing, while the four lowest places, 97-100, were taken by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Syria. Israel’s nearest Moslem competitor was Malaysia, number 54, and Egypt was 83.
In all-around “good to live in,” Israel’s #22 listing was actually #1 in the Middle East. Kuwait was the top Arab country, at #40, and in terms of Middle Eastern non-Jewish countries, Turkey and Jordan led the pack, in the 52nd and 53rd places, respectively.
In a non-related item, the same issue of Newsweek features an article on the possibility that demographic trends in Israel are significantly more Jewish-leaning than commonly thought. The article is graced by a large photograph of Jewish children on the backdrop of a synagogue, with the caption, "Jewish children play in the Israeli town of Netzarim." In fact, however, Israel withdrew from Netzarim, and all of Gush Katif, five years ago; the children in the photo were expelled from their homes, and the subsequent destruction of the synagogue by Gazan Arabs has been widely photographed and documented.
(Similarly, a Newsweek graphic of the top countries mistakenly depicts Israel in 23rd place.)