Greeks misinformed about Middle East

In a recent poll, 51 percent of Greeks expressed support for Hezbollah in the recent war between the Islamic militants and Israel, compared to not more than 20 percent in other Western European countries. Also, 79 percent of Greeks believed that Israel started the conflict, compared to 59 percent of the Lebanese. It is remarkable that Hezbollah has attracted support not in Lebanon, where it has its own television station, but in Greece, where the media loves «revolutionary spirit» of this kind. In a democratic country, an individual can support whomever they want. Just as someone can claim to be a pagan, so can someone else freely declare their support for Hezbollah. Everyone has the right to interpret events as they wish. However, the issue of who started the latest war in the Middle East is not up for debate. The findings of the TNS-ICAP Gallup International poll (published in Wednesday’s Kathimerini) reveal a lot about our country but even more about its media. We might be very sensitive in Greece but we are also seriously misinformed. Just as we knew nothing about Srebrenica before the bombs started falling on Kosovo, and just as we believed that Baghdad would become a new Stalingrad during the last war in Iraq, eight in 10 Greeks now claim to know that the latest war in the Middle East was started by Israel. So we know better than the Lebanese? It is clear that this stance has been influenced by the predominance of television in the news media. Bulletins do not devote much time to in-depth political analysis. They prefer explosions, blood and suffering. Also, the overemotional approach to war reporting by Greek TV channels ensures that we learn a lot about the reporter’s impressions but not very much about the actual conflict. The third problem is that Greek journalists generally believe that their duty is to change the world rather than inform it.