The Economist names the only democracy in the Middle East, and it isn’t Israel

posted at 1:21 pm on July 8, 2014 by Noah Rothman

With the rise of Islamist organizations, repressive regimes, and civil conflicts which threaten regional stability, the promise of the Arab Spring of 2011 quickly devolved into an Arab winter. In an expansive article in The Economist, the threat to the Middle East is discussed in appropriately grave terms; Syria and Iraq are in flames while Jordan looms as the next domino to potentially fall. Libya and Yemen, where Islamic terror networks operate with impunity, are labeled “failed states.” Those Middle Eastern nations that are not in danger of imminent collapse are either absolute monarchies or counties which merely maintain the false edifice of democracy.

There is one country, however, which shines as a beacon of freedom for the region. It’s commitment to the rule of law and the maintenance of the basic standards of human dignity serve as an example to its neighbors. No, not Israel, silly. Tiny Tunisia is The Economist’s shining city on the Arab hill.

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In fairness, the article, datelined Cairo, which accompanies this deeply misleading graphic is far more informative and measured than the visual representation above. That should come as a surprise to no one; if Vox dot com has taught us anything, it is that one simple graphic will never be able to impart “everything you need to know.”

While the author has a case to make for Tunisia’s shift toward Western democratic standards in the wake of the self-immolation of a native fruit vendor who inadvertently sparked the Arab World’s great but failed awakening, there is less of a case to make for Lebanon as a more democratic nation than neighboring Israel.

While representatives of the government in Beirut often pledge their devotion to secularism, that country has also been a safe haven for fighters allied with Iran and Syria for years. And, while ISIS in Iraq is receiving much of the media’s attention, the Syrian civil war long ago expanded into the Lebanese theater.

Syrian Army officials fighting alongside Hezbollah have been unable to dislodge Islamic radicals hiding out in Lebanon’s near lawless Qalamoun region near the Bekaa Valley.

“[W]ith the Lebanese Army keeping an eye on the outskirts of Arsal, Hezbollah has been monitoring the rugged mountain paths favored by rebels using drones and picking off fighters with ambushes and landmines,” the Lebanon Daily Star reported on Tuesday. “The opposition has launched its own series of attacks in an attempt to regain control over Rankoush.”

The expert added that these fighters would continue battling the Syrian army in Qalamoun and could also coordinate attacks inside Lebanon in an attempt to strike Hezbollah at home.

The prospect of yet another Levant nation falling to ISIS puts the lie to the notion that Lebanon is a model for popular democracy in the Middle East. Though it is not clear that the author intended to even make that case; Israel is barely mentioned in his piece and, when it is, it is only discussed in the context of the fracturing of the Palestinian Authority in the noncontiguous Gaza and West Bank territories.

Maybe The Economist just has a particularly fanatical graphics designer.


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Stupidity is an epidemic.

crankyoldlady on July 8, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Israel don’t count to these people.

Buck Farky on July 8, 2014 at 1:25 PM

The Economist is an anti-Israel rag. Has been for many years.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on July 8, 2014 at 1:26 PM

The Economist is British. Their anti-Semitism is barely hidden.

rbj on July 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM

If the House of Saud starts to shake then it’s time to build the fallout shelter.

And I’m not sure I don’t mean the bit about the shelter.

Truly, for all of the problems they cause – or some family members – it has been a stable influence (low bar, to be sure) in the region.

SteveMG on July 8, 2014 at 1:29 PM

I wouldn’t get too worked up about this. The legend is titled “The Arab World”, not “The Middle East”. Israel is not part of the Arab World. Furthermore, the article is pretty clearly talking about the Arab world in general.

roger wilco on July 8, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Israel as a Democratic Facade? I didn’t realize that the Temple had been rebuilt.

nobar on July 8, 2014 at 1:29 PM

They should have been renamed as “Eco-Namist” long ago, ’cause they have precious little to do with economy and much with green agenda and leftist propaganda.

Rix on July 8, 2014 at 1:29 PM

So when did Tunisia move from Africa? Intelligent ignoramuses.

Ward Cleaver on July 8, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Well of course they didn’t name Israel – it’s not even on their map. Doesn’t exist in their universe. I don’t think the problem at The Economist is just the “graphics designer”, however. But it’s good to know what they’re really thinking.

bofh on July 8, 2014 at 1:31 PM

And yet Jews keep sleeping with the Democrats. If this does not meet the definition of insanity what does?

DDay on July 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

hahahahahaha

The little bomb symbol for ‘recent terror attacks by Islamist groups’ should entirely cover the map.

hahahahahaha

faraway on July 8, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Progressive fascists are in complete control of the world’s media. Sadly our media is the worst. The old Sovs at Pravda could only dream of the propaganda machine in the USA since 2001.

jukin3 on July 8, 2014 at 1:35 PM

If they were true to their graphic’s key of using an explosion to show “recent terror attacks by Islamist groups” the entire map would be nothing but explosions and occasional stretches of ocean.

JeremiahJohnson on July 8, 2014 at 1:35 PM

And yet Jews keep sleeping with the Democrats. If this does not meet the definition of insanity what does?

DDay on July 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Not all of us do.
I comment on a lot of Jewish FB pages.
There’s a lot more of us ‘right-Jews’ than you might think.

annoyinglittletwerp on July 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

It’s a map of the ARAB WORLD! Omitting Israel is intentional since Israel isn’t Arab. Sheesh! Lighten up, people!

HiJack on July 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Israel isn’t even in that graphic (not labeled anyways). And further down the article is a table labeled “Repetitive injuries”. Israel is not in that table either. And skimming the article, and doing a search for Israel in the article (Israel is only mentioned 4 times in the article, 3 of those mentions is a single paragraph), I think the article is almost exclusively about the Arab states and their dysfunctions.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM

annoyinglittletwerp on July 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

I know I’m one of them. But, for the most part the numbers are against us and the Liberals have a bigger mouth piece. I just want the masses to wake the F up.

DDay on July 8, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Where is Dearborn?

faraway on July 8, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Maybe The Economist just has a particularly fanatical graphics designer.

The Economist used to be a good read, about economics.

Then it changed into a leftist rag.

I can’t post the letter sent to them upon quitting subscription.

Schadenfreude on July 8, 2014 at 1:42 PM

The map clearly refers to the Palestinian Territories, not Israel.

Could the graphics gal have done a better job (by showing Israel in gray) to eliminate confusion? Yeah, but I think the intent is obvious.

bobs1196 on July 8, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Where is the Islamic Caliphate run by al Baghdadi?

faraway on July 8, 2014 at 1:43 PM

It’s a map of the ARAB WORLD! Omitting Israel is intentional since Israel isn’t Arab. Sheesh! Lighten up, people!

HiJack on July 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM

So all of the Arabic Muslims living in Israel, that have voting rights and seats in the Knesset don’t count, right?

Got it.

And as for lightening up- never, not a chance. These are the people that beat, mutilate, and kill their women for reasons of pride. These are the people that kill those they regard as infidels. These are the people that rule by genocide.

M240H on July 8, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Schadenfreude on July 8, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Sort of like Business Insider?

DDay on July 8, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Where is Dearborn?

faraway on July 8, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Heh.

The Middle East of the West.

Bitter Clinger on July 8, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Where is the Islamic Caliphate run by al Baghdadi?

faraway on July 8, 2014 at 1:43 PM

You’re standing on it.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Back to work. Enjoy reading most of the post, but don’t have much time to post anymore. However, I was hoping to see something from Libfree or croak, that would have been interesting to say the least.

DDay on July 8, 2014 at 1:52 PM

I have to agree with the point that this map is keyed as a map of the Arab world. While Israel certainly has plenty of Arabs, its most emphatically not an Arab state. Notice that none of the surrounding countries that are not majority Arab states are included in the color key, regardless of where those states would fall on the spectrum.

DominusNovus on July 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Tiny Tunisia will be absorbed into the new caliphate soon enough Noah.

Bmore on July 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

It’s a map of the ARAB WORLD! Omitting Israel is intentional since Israel isn’t Arab. Sheesh! Lighten up, people!

HiJack on July 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM

This.

I’d be very amused to see the ‘objectors’ above make the case that Israel is an ‘Arab nation.’

Ricard on July 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

…Jew-haters!

JugEarsButtHurt on July 8, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Economist doesn’t include Israel on map of the Arab World, HotGas goes nuts with retardation.

So all of the Arabic Muslims living in Israel, that have voting rights and seats in the Knesset don’t count, right?

Why not add North America and Europe to the map while you’re at it?

HotGas may be nominally conservative but the people here are very much liberal in temperament, always looking for some racial offense to get butthurt about so they can cry racism against it. This is what conservatism has become. *spits*

Darth Executor on July 8, 2014 at 1:56 PM

The Limeys have gone downhill since Maggie.

formwiz on July 8, 2014 at 1:59 PM

*spits*

Darth Executor on July 8, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Nasty habit.

Bmore on July 8, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Is Israel not noted because they’re not considering it part of “the Arab World” or because they’ve labeled it the “Palestinian Territories”?

BKeyser on July 8, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Economist doesn’t include Israel on map of the Arab World, HotGas goes nuts with retardation.

Because labeling what little bit of Israel is there as “democratic facade” is the same as not being on the map.

Yep, retardation is defininetly nuts.

*spits*

Darth Executor on July 8, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Perhaps you should cease coming here.

nobar on July 8, 2014 at 2:03 PM

this is obviously a map of the arab world, not the middle east. iran is clearly middle eastern but also clearly not arab, hence treated similarly to israel.

ThisIsYourBrainOnKoch on July 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Israel not arab, but by not mentioning it they are also admitting no such thing as palestine.

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Edited for accuracy:

Maybe The Economist just has a particularly fanatical graphics designer. Far far more likely is that from top to bottom The Economist is populated and managed by anti-semitic Jew haters.

Sacramento on July 8, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Um, guys? Israel is grey, like Greece or Italy (or Iran for that mater).

Count to 10 on July 8, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Because labeling what little bit of Israel is there as “democratic facade” is the same as not being on the map.
nobar on July 8, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Like I said, look closer: Israel is gray, not light blue.

Count to 10 on July 8, 2014 at 2:31 PM

To be fair the article the link takes you to is titled:

Tethered by history

The failures of the Arab spring were a long time in the making

So on reading the title most people, myself included, would assume it was about Arab countries and not Middle East countries as a whole. I myself consider Israel to be part of the Middle East, and certainly not Arab, and a shining example of a democracy.

However labeling it a “Palestinian Territories” and light blue (a facade democracy) does go overboard.
Best to have simply leave it no color or a totally different one with the label “Israel”.

That’s why editors are important.

Bubba Redneck on July 8, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Um, guys? Israel is grey, like Greece or Italy (or Iran for that mater).

Count to 10 on July 8, 2014 at 2:29 PM

I see light blue . . .

The really need a larger PDF.

Bubba Redneck on July 8, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Noah,

To me, this is just a map of Arab-controlled countries, NOT Isreal.

AmerigoChattin on July 8, 2014 at 2:35 PM

And yet Jews keep sleeping with the Democrats. If this does not meet the definition of insanity what does?

DDay on July 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Despite all the attempts to link the two Israel =/= all jews. It’s just a country, one that tries very hard to leverage ancient superstitions into temporal power, granted. Fortunately not everybody falls for that sort of thing…

Tlaloc on July 8, 2014 at 2:41 PM

As several sane and observant commenters have pointed out, the article is about ARAB countries, which Israel is not, at least as of yet.

This is the type of stupid article, reading almost like an ONION parody, that makes conservatives look like morons.

Of course, Noah isn’t exactly a conservative, so…

Joseph K on July 8, 2014 at 2:41 PM

I followed the link, registered for the free very limited access to the Economist online, and read the article.

The article is about the Arab world, not just the Middle East. The article is consistent.

The graphic is misleading, and should have said that Israel is democratic (not just a democratic facade). Or, as noted above, it should have been gray (or grey) as a not-discussed state. If the Economist meant the so-called Palestinian Territories were a facade, that would be giving honor where none is deserved. And if they were implying that there should be no Israel, than the paper has gone below the level of birdcage liner.

By the way, I gave up my subscription to the paper years ago when it called President George W. Bush a draft dodger.

Kevin K. on July 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM

I get the feeling Noah would bitch even more if Israel was considered part of the Arab world.

lexhamfox on July 8, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Everyone knows that The Economist is a racist anti-Jewish rag and always has been. But the fact is that Tunisa has been going pro-Islamist for over 5 years now…even disregarding the fact that they have burned the few synagogues still there….

Lets face it, the Brits have never had a place in their heart for the Jews or for human decency

georgealbert on July 8, 2014 at 2:48 PM

this is obviously a map of the arab world, not the middle east. iran is clearly middle eastern but also clearly not arab, hence treated similarly to israel.

ThisIsYourBrainOnKoch on July 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Had they included Israel in a report on Arab countries, there would be even more outrage.

lexhamfox on July 8, 2014 at 2:54 PM

This is a map highlighting the countries of “the Arab World”, not “the Middle East”. Thus, Israel would not be included (neither is Iran).

DaveO on July 8, 2014 at 2:59 PM

How many Arabs living in “democratic facades” like Egypt would prefer to live peacefully in an “absolute monarchy” like Saudi Arabia?

Also interesting how the Economist’s map-maker labels the Kurdish area of Iraq as “civil war”, when the Kurdish area is the only peaceful part of Iraq, and does have a semblance of democracy in its “regional” government.

Lets face it, the Brits have never had a place in their heart for the Jews or for human decency

georgealbert on July 8, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Maybe the Economist writers hate the Jews, but not all “Brits” do. After all, it was Great Britain who helped set up the Jewish state of Israel in the first place.

Steve Z on July 8, 2014 at 3:07 PM

I would say, at best, that this is poor graphic design. The territory of Israel is shown in pale blue (“democratic facade”). If they meant to indicate that Israel is not in the Arab world, it ought to have been in gray (like Iran and Turkey). The Palestinian territories are already indicated with a numbered, colored box in pale blue; they shouldn’t have colored the entire territory of Israel pale blue to account for that.

As I said, that’s the most favorable interpretation I can put on the map, and probably the most likely interpretation.

(The only other interpretations I can think of would be that the Economist is saying either (a) that Israel has only a democratic facade, or (b) that Israel does not exist and its entire territory belongs to Palestine.)

J.S.K. on July 8, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Tlaloc on July 8, 2014 at 2:41 PM

durpa durpa

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 3:11 PM

I wished I had said “hey” to Shy Guy when he peaked his head out earlier. There are now rocket sirens in Jerusalem.

Blake on July 8, 2014 at 3:17 PM

And yet Jews keep sleeping with the Democrats. If this does not meet the definition of insanity what does?

DDay on July 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Largely, they do ally themselves with the Left.
As do Muslims.
Politics makes strange bedfellows.

itsnotaboutme on July 8, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Noah,

To me, this is just a map of Arab-controlled countries, NOT Isreal.

AmerigoChattin on July 8, 2014 at 2:35 PM

It’s a map.
On the map, where it should say Israel, it says “Palestinian Territories.”
Therefore, the map is wacky.

itsnotaboutme on July 8, 2014 at 3:30 PM

I would say, at best, that this is poor graphic design. The territory of Israel is shown in pale blue (“democratic facade”). If they meant to indicate that Israel is not in the Arab world, it ought to have been in gray (like Iran and Turkey). The Palestinian territories are already indicated with a numbered, colored box in pale blue; they shouldn’t have colored the entire territory of Israel pale blue to account for that.

J.S.K. on July 8, 2014 at 3:09 PM

It’s grey, not blue, but there seems to be some kind of color bleed on my screen if I don’t look at it from just the right angle.

Count to 10 on July 8, 2014 at 3:31 PM

…The map is called “The Arab world,” yet it clearly shows Ethiopia & Iran, which are not Arab nations.
Therefore, it ought to show Israel.

itsnotaboutme on July 8, 2014 at 3:32 PM

BREAKING NEWS

Israel is getting bombarded as we speak. Rockets have hit in Jerusalem and 4 in Tel Aviv that were not picked up by Iron Dome. More than 40 rockets have been fired all across Israel in the last few minutes.

It’s time for Netenyahu to begin the anhilation of Hamas in Gaza. Do it brutally and completely.

NOMOBO on July 8, 2014 at 3:53 PM

So all of the Arabic Muslims living in Israel, that have voting rights and seats in the Knesset don’t count, right?

Got it.

And as for lightening up- never, not a chance. These are the people that beat, mutilate, and kill their women for reasons of pride. These are the people that kill those they regard as infidels. These are the people that rule by genocide.

M240H on July 8, 2014 at 1:44 PM

And it’s not about Arabs, or Muslims or whatever. It’s about Arab STATES. If somebody drew a map of North America and people complained that Ecuador wasn’t included we would think they’re nuts.

HiJack on July 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM

I doubt that Israel is even on the map of the middle east that the Economist looks at. With anti-Semitism on the rise again in Europe and here, it looks like history is rearing its ugly head again. When will we stop allowing fools from running the world, they always do such a lousy job and too many honest God fearing people get killed trying to fix the problem these fools created.

savage24 on July 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM

I would say, at best, that this is poor graphic design. The territory of Israel is shown in pale blue (“democratic facade”). If they meant to indicate that Israel is not in the Arab world, it ought to have been in gray (like Iran and Turkey). The Palestinian territories are already indicated with a numbered, colored box in pale blue; they shouldn’t have colored the entire territory of Israel pale blue to account for that.

As I said, that’s the most favorable interpretation I can put on the map, and probably the most likely interpretation.

(The only other interpretations I can think of would be that the Economist is saying either (a) that Israel has only a democratic facade, or (b) that Israel does not exist and its entire territory belongs to Palestine.)

J.S.K. on July 8, 2014 at 3:09 PM

This!
But hey if it gets people to take their blood pressure medication regularly, and you know who you are, why correct them.

Bubba Redneck on July 8, 2014 at 4:06 PM

…The map is called “The Arab world,” yet it clearly shows Ethiopia & Iran, which are not Arab nations.
Therefore, it ought to show Israel.

itsnotaboutme on July 8, 2014 at 3:32 PM

As well as Greece, Italy, Spain; the entire Med. Sea area and into Subsaharan Africa.
These are greyed out.

See above posts.

Bubba Redneck on July 8, 2014 at 4:10 PM

How much credense can you place in a mindset so warped with raw hatred that it cannot even speak the name or recognise the existance of the object of its hatred?
ISRAEL, the Ancient and rightful homeland of the JEW, is not even shown on the map.
Even the twisted mind of Mohammed managed to vocalise their name and grant them their own land.
The Jihai is like a rabid dog; there is no reasoning, accomodating or coexisting with them.
You can only grant them their hearts desire and send them to their 70 virgins.

thelastminstrel on July 8, 2014 at 4:11 PM

What can I say, lolz The Economist, way to make arses of yourselves with yet another Vox.com type of ‘analysis’…well, The Economist reads more like Pravda lately anyways…

jimver on July 8, 2014 at 4:13 PM

It’s grey, not blue, but there seems to be some kind of color bleed on my screen if I don’t look at it from just the right angle.

Count to 10 on July 8, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Look at the southernmost part of Israel (where Eilat is, although not labeled), or the northern part of Israel near Lebanon. They’re definitely in pale blue, and those areas aren’t part of the Palestinian territories. I don’t see any gray on the map where Israel is.

J.S.K. on July 8, 2014 at 4:32 PM

It’s hard to say which the world’s useful idiots, including the Economist, is more grossly and immorally ignorant about, the true Christian faith or the false Muslim delusion.

russedav on July 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Like others have said, this is much ado about nothing. Israel isn’t an Arab nation, even if it does have Arab people living in it (SHOCKER: so do many other countries!!).

SquireB on July 8, 2014 at 4:48 PM

SquireB on July 8, 2014 at 4:48 PM

The thrust of the Economist article is obvious when one considers the list of countries near the bottom of the article. Israel is not mentioned in that list, and in the rest of the article is only mentioned in the context of its opposition to Hamas, whose idea of “democracy” isn’t considered very nice in the article.

unclesmrgol on July 8, 2014 at 5:19 PM

I always knew the Economist was a Eurocentric socialist rag. Now I know it is a pro-Palestinian one as well.

Faramir on July 8, 2014 at 6:01 PM

The Brits even sent officers to Jordan to fight against the Jews in their new state in 1948. They handed over weapon caches to the Arabs. If I were Jewish I would have a mad hatred for anything British.

Faramir on July 8, 2014 at 6:03 PM

The article is about the “Arab Spring” and it’s about the “tragedy of the Arab’s”. It’s not about the Jewish State, or the Turkish State in the Middle East. This is almost pointless.

EVSCBT on July 8, 2014 at 10:18 PM

I was considering buying a subscription to The Economist last year, but I wasn’t that familiar with them so I bought a couple of issues to read. That was all it took to change my mind. They have very little writing on actual economics and are mostly just a leftist commie rag and I told them as much.

earlgrey on July 9, 2014 at 9:11 AM

The Brits even sent officers to Jordan to fight against the Jews in their new state in 1948. They handed over weapon caches to the Arabs. If I were Jewish I would have a mad hatred for anything British.

Faramir on July 8, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Your mad hatred is mad stupid.

lexhamfox on July 9, 2014 at 12:07 PM