LONDON — Israel has topped the list of the countries that have the most negative influence in the world, according to a BBC World Service poll of 28,000 people across 27 countries.
"It appears that people around the world tend to look negatively on countries whose profile is marked by the use or pursuit of military power," Steven Kull, Director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, said in a comment accompanying the poll.
"This includes Israel and the US, who have recently used military force, and North Korea and Iran, who are perceived as trying to develop nuclear weapons."
The BBC survey asked respondents to pick the "mostly positive or mostly negative influence in the world" out of a list featuring Britain, Canada, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, North Korea, Russia, the US, Venezuela, and the EU.
The country with the highest number of mostly negative responses overall is Israel (56% negative, 17% positive), followed by Iran (54% negative 18% positive), the US (51% negative, 30% positive) and North Korea (48% negative, 19% positive).
Israel also stands out for having the largest number of countries (23 of 27) viewing it negatively.
Iran is regarded unfavorably in 21 countries, the United States and North Korea in 20.
The poll was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with PIPA.
In total, 28,389 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States were interviewed between 3 November 2006 and 16 January 2007.
The Israeli aggressive policies in the occupied Palestinian territories over the past years have badly damaged Tel Aviv’s image across the globe.
A recent EU poll had found that 59 percent of Europeans regarded Israel as the biggest threat to world peace.
In France, a poll showed that almost half of the French people saw Israel in a bad light.
Miller said India is the only country that has significantly improved its global stature in the past year.
The most positive ratings in the poll were given to Canada (54% positive, 14% negative), Japan (54% positive, 20% negative), the European Union (53% positive 19% negative) and France (50% positive, 21% negative).
Japan is viewed favorably by 24 countries, France by 25, and the EU by 24.
Another three countries tend to be viewed more favorably than unfavorably: Britain (45% positive, 28% negative), China (42% positive, 32% negative), and India (37% positive, 26% negative).
"Countries that relate to the world primarily through soft power, like Japan, France, and the EU in general, tend to be viewed positively," Kull said.
GlobeScan president Doug Miller added that India is the only country that has significantly improved its global stature in the past year.
"Britain, while slipping a bit since 2005, appears to be avoiding the steep decline that its war partner, the US, is suffering," he said on the Globescan’s website.
In January, another BBC World Service’s poll showed that most people worldwide think the US has a mainly negative influence in the world and that the numbers had increased significantly in the last couple of years.
Three in every four of 26,000 people questioned in 25 countries disapproved of how the US was dealing with the crisis in Iraq, Guantanamo detainees, the Israel onslaught on Lebanon, Iran’s nuclear program, global warming and North Korea’s nuclear program.