the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Woo hoo, we beat the Congo!

Two polls released last week offered rather different views on public corruption in Israel.

A national poll conducted by the Dahaf Institute found that:

* 85% of the Israeli public thinks Israeli leadership is characterized by corruption.

* 84% does not believe in the integrity of political party leaders.

* 52% does not believe that there is a clean political party in Israel.

However, Israel was judged "strong" or "very strong" in four out of six categories in an international poll ranking anti-corruption mechanisms that promote public integrity. Israel did best ("very strong") in the categories of Civil Society, Public Information & Media (that's one category) and Elections, and worst ("weak") in the categories of Government Accountability (surprise, surprise!) and Administration & Civil Service.

That sounds pretty good at first glance, but take a close look at the other 42 countries in the 2006 Global Integrity Report.

Although the report includes the United States, presumably for comparison purposes, pretty much all the other countries are developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America or Eastern Europe. For the record, the worst-performing countries in the survey are Yemen, Vietnam and the Congo, and the top three, in descending order, are the United States, Romania and, yes, Israel.

It's a bit embarrassing to boast about besting Yemen and Vietnam, but when the vast majority of the Israeli public finds little about their government that's worth smiling about, I guess we should take whatever damnably faint praise we can get.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoshana, thank you for remarking on the Global Integrity Report. Your analysis of what the results mean (or don't mean) is right on. However, I'll point out that the intensity of public feeling around corruption issues may in fact be a symptom of some good things. Israel, unlike many of the countries we looked at, has an open political culture, with a strong media and civil society. Our work, which is based on analysis of the laws and institutions that fight corruption, will incorporate these processes more than opinion polls.

That said, there's clearly some problems. As our reporter on the ground, Yossi Melman, writes, "Israel is still a vital democracy, but it is a democracy in decay." You can read the rest on our website.

Jonathan Werve
Director of Operations, Global Integrity

January 15, 2007  

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