Israel's Image Is Improving in Greece

(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) George N. Tzogopoulos - Israel has been consistently portrayed by Greek journalists as the aggressor and the Palestinians as innocent victims and Jerusalem's close cooperation with Ankara only fueled this negative perception. But after the setback in Israel's relations with Turkey after the Mavi Marmara incident in June 2010, Jerusalem decided to look for new allies in the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Greece in August, opening a new chapter in a relationship that had been marked for decades by misunderstandings and suspicion. Greek Premier George Papandreou saw Israel as a critical ally in an era of economic austerity and the Greek media followed his lead. While 207,711 Israeli tourists came to Greece in 2012, arrivals from Israel are expected to be 530,712 in 2017. As a "start-up" nation, Israel also attracted the attention of Greek entrepreneurs. Moreover, the racist behavior of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, and its position that Israel is Greece's "eternal enemy," have (to an extent) associated anti-Israel voices in Greece with political extremists. After 2015, a leftist government, Syriza, came to power, bringing with it Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Though he had participated in pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the past, Tsipras treats Israel as an ally. The writer is a lecturer at the Democritus University of Thrace.

2017-10-26 00:00:00

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