In Greece, Public Opinion on Israel May Be Following Diplomacy and Economics

Oct. 26 2017

The Greek media have a consistent history of hostility toward the Jewish state, a hostility that seems both to shape and to reflect a great deal of popular sentiment. But since 2010, as Athens and Jerusalem have formed closer economic and diplomatic ties, popular opinion seems to be improving. George Tzogopoulos writes:

Greek sympathy for the Palestinian cause is rooted in the proximity of the Arab world and the support of most Arabs [for Greece’s stance on] the Cyprus question. Anti-Semitism has also played a role. But there is another reason why Israel was constantly blamed by the Greek media, at least before 2010. It served as a useful scapegoat for all the problems in the Middle East, if not all the problems in the world. This made it easy for journalists to avoid time-consuming, in-depth research on international affairs. Jerusalem’s close cooperation with Ankara only fueled the negative perception of Israel within the Greek media. . . .

When Jerusalem decided to look for new allies in the eastern Mediterranean following the setback in its relations with Ankara [over the Mavi Marmara affair], it turned to Athens. In August 2010, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Greece, opening a new chapter in a relationship that had been marked for decades by misunderstandings and suspicion.

George Papandreou, the Greek premier at the time, saw Israel as a critical ally in an era of economic austerity and uncertainty over Greece’s potential default and exit from the Eurozone. . . . In the aftermath of the Netanyahu-Papandreou meeting, most Greek journalists began to grasp that Israel is no longer an unknown, distant neighbor. [Rather], it is a partner. This strategic partnership yields positives for Greece in terms of security and energy affairs, and also has a tangibly positive effect on the Greek economy. While 207,711 Israeli tourists came to Greece in 2012, expected arrivals from Israel are expected to be 530,712 in 2017. . . .

After 2015, an additional barrier tarnishing Israel’s image in Greece was removed. A leftist government, Syriza, came to power, bringing with it a new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. Though he had participated in pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the past, his tune changed when he assumed his new position. In contrast to his pre-election stance, Tsipras treats Israel as an ally, and his foreign policy is reflected in media coverage on both left and right. . . . The improving image of Israel in Greece could theoretically go hand in hand with a reduction in anti-Semitism. . . .

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Anti-Semitism, Greece, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Natural Gas, Turkey

 

Benjamin Netanyahu Is a Successful Leader, Not a Magician

Sept. 20 2019

Following the inconclusive results of Tuesday’s election, weeks may elapse before a prime minister is chosen, and there is a chance that Benjamin Netanyahu’s political career isn’t over yet. Perusing the headlines about Netanyahu over the past year, Ruthie Blum notes how many have referred to him as a political “magician,” or some variant thereof. But this cliché misses the point:

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month

Register

Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics