Friday, April 1, 2016

Chile’s Arabs and the Erasure Of History - Mike Konrad

by Mike Konrad

Editor: The term "Palestine" refers to a geographical region, nominally defined as south of Syria and bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea. There had never been a political or ethnic entity of that name until 1964, when the term was adopted by the PLO to undermine Jewish claims to the Land of Israel.

One of my favorite pastimes is taking a look at South America; I am fascinated by South America's premier ethnic group: the Arabs! Yes, how many Americans know that Arabs are a major force in our southern neighbor.

The Arabs are elites in South America, roughly equivalent to the Jews in success - especially in Chile.
“The Palestinian community is to Chile what the Jewish community is to the US ...”  -  [Gabriel] Zaliasnik, Chilean Jewish Community leader , as quoted in Jerusalem Post.
Where they differ from Jews is in their ethnic memory. While Jews are careful to guard and preserve their heritage, the South American Arabs, particularly the Palestinians, seem to have totally forgotten their past in favor on a halcyon fantasy that never existed.

Chile's Palestinians number around 500,000 – estimates of numbers can vary wildly, as many are intermarried with Italian, Spanish, and German stocks. They are often third, fourth, and fifth generation Chilean. What distinguishes them is their Christianity. They are almost always Christian. (95% or more).
Latin Americans of Palestinian descent claim today to be around 700,000 ... , but Chile and Honduras are by far the first in terms of numbers, with at least 350,000 and 280,000 people of Palestinian origin, respectively. In those countries, Palestinians are mostly third and fourth-generation immigrants from the region of Bethlehem. - Maan [Palestinian] News
They started arriving in Chile at the latter end of the 19th century, were subject to great discrimination, but soon rose to immense economic clout, becoming captains of industry and banking.

By 1920, the Palestinians had formed a formidable soccer club, Palestino, which would later go on to win national championships in Chile, and would compete in transnational South American championships - comparable in their national echoes to the Minnesota Vikings or Notre Dame's Fighting Irish. Palestinians are overrepresented in the Chilean government, and Chile boasts about their Arabs on their TV.  Chilean Arabs have their own cable TV network now: ArabTV.

All of this would be ground for admiration, except that somewhere along the way, these Christian Arabs have forgotten why they are in South America in the first place.

The 19th century saw genocidal attacks on Christians in Lebanon and Syria. In 1860, the French had to land troops to prevent Maronite Christians from being wiped out. That inconvenient part of history the Arabs of South America, especially the Palestinians, seem to forget.

In Palestine, Christians were attacked during the 1834 Palestinian uprising.

The Christians and Jews of Jerusalem — sympathetic to Ibrahim as his rule brought them economic prosperity — were seen by the locals as enemies and invaders therefore were singled out for abuse.  - 1834 Arab Revolt in Palestine.
The ancestors of the Palestinian Arabs in Chile would have been subjected to that abuse. One of the chief reasons for the Arab flight to South America was to avoid the draft into a Muslim Ottoman Army.
[T]he push created by the fear of rising Turkish nationalism and religious persecution combined with the pull of economic opportunity marked the beginning of a “chain migration,” ...  - Palestine Studies
Yet, these same Palestinian-Chileans now embrace the Palestinian cause without any seeming knowledge of why their ancestors initially fled the Mideast.  

This semi-deceptive Chilean Video (click Here) shows the ancestors of the Palestinians who came to Chile bowing down in an Islamic prayer.  In reality, many of their ancestors were Christians fleeing the Muslims.  However, the early reactions of the Latins to the refugees - from Islam, let's be clear - was not particularly welcoming.
Whether they are Mahometans or Buddhists, what one can see and smell from far, is that they are more dirty than the dogs of Constantinople... — El Mercurio,  [Santiago, Chile] April 13, 1911, as quoted by Wikipedia.
The Chileans underrated these Palestinians. The immigrants brought a mercantile ethic with them, an ethic suppressed by the Hispanic culture with its class and peonage system legacy; and the Arabs rose to fill the economic vacuum and control vast wealth. By 1947, they had enough power to force Chile's pro-Israel government to abstain from voting for partition in the UN. These "dogs of Constantinople" were now in charge. They still are.  Chile's government, in spite of a large evangelical community, has a pro-Palestinian bent.

From what I see, the Maronite Lebanese in South America have enough sense to avoid taking sides in the Mideast conflicts. They have retained a memory of Muslim terror and have acquired some balance; and where the Maronites predominate in the Arab communities, they can temper Arab community opinion.  

But, in Chile and Honduras the Palestinians predominate; and reason has fled.

Some of this can be explained by Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars. Some Christians were driven out by the Haganah -- the Arabs did not all leave voluntarily. Those who ended up in Chile or Honduras no doubt brought their viewpoints to the community. However, the Palestinian community was already settled in Chile by 1948; and should have known better than to embrace their views uncritically. The Maronites exhibit this reason. Palestinian-Chileans do not.

Like so many Jews in the USA in the 1960s, as a community, the Palestinians are very prosperous, but radicalized.

This 2007 video (click Here), by a Chilean Arab school visiting the Holy Land -- where almost certainly the students are only part-Arab, and all Christian -- plays a Muslim war poem as the background music. (for lyics, here)  A Muslim war poem?  For a Christian school?

I stand amazed that these Christians have so quickly forgotten their history. Have they forgotten the quiet flight of Arab Christians in the 20th century? Damascus was 20% Christian in 1938. Not so, now.

When the Jews started leaving Russia for America at the same time as these Arab Christians left the Holy Land for Chile, the Jews did not end up blessing the Czar from the streets of Manhattan; yet Chilean Palestinians cheer on Hamas, a terror group which persecutes Christians. I might understand how some Christian-Palestinians are upset with Israel; but what drives these part-Arab Chilean Christians to embrace clearly Islamic causes? 

The center of Christianity in the Holy Land is Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour.  The latter two towns are still heavily majority Christian. Bethlehem is now majority Muslim, but only because of district redrawing. Were the boundaries restored, the area would still be heavily Christian. These three towns form the ancestral homeland of Chile's Palestinians, who now greatly outnumber those Christians who remained.

Under former mayor Elias Friej, a Greek Orthodox Christian, there was serious talk of Israel annexing Bethlehem. Why it fell through is anyone's guess. Mayor Friej and the Israelis got along well. He was the only Arab mayor they did not depose.
In an interview in 1995, [Mayor Freij] estimated that 45,000 Christian families had left the city since the area came under British control in 1917, and he said it saddened him but that he had chosen to stay.  - New York Times
Note: How many of them went to Chile?

Presently, there is real discrimination by Muslims against Christians in the Palestinian controlled areas. Yet, these Chilean Palestinians fund charities affiliated with Hamas. What we see is radicalism of a nature divorced from historical reality.

Arab Expats in Chile Hoping to Disrupt Relations with Israel - Jewish Press , Oct 2015

Chilean Palestinians wanted the Israeli ambassador expelled.

Federación Palestina de Chile is driving a lot of this. The Palestinians in Chile are wealthy enough not to require outside funding from Arab sources, and so a lot of this has to come from inside their own collective. It is a popular effort, by rich community, well endowed, mustering a massive media campaign in Spanish. 

- (UGEP - Chile) General Union of Palestinian Students - Chile - (Click Here)
- (UGEP - Chile) Video Channel (Click Here)
- Bethlehem Foundation - 2000 (Click Here)
- Palestinian Social Club,  ArabTV (Click Here)

The more logical position would be to cut a deal with Israel to incorporate and annex their ancestral villages (Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour), if only to protect them from a Muslim onslaught, in return for one of South America's richest communities, in South America's most democratic country, supporting Israel, and shifting the Latin American consensus away from Arab influences. One can understand why Arabs might not be thrilled being an ethnic minority in a Jewish state -- no one likes being a minority -- but one would think being a Christian minority in a Muslim state is more odious.

If Israel ever fell, the remaining Palestinian Christians would be fleeing to Chile within a week, as the Muslims regrouped to go after the "Sunday people."

If you doubt the gravity of this, the Federación Palestina de Chile has published a map:  What if Chile were occupied by Israel?

One might understand why Palestinian Chileans may not be thrilled with Zionism; but what possesses these Chileans to embrace anti-Christian causes. In the age of ISIS, such self-destructive behavior at this level is schizoid. This would be worth ignoring, except that in South America, these Palestinians have substantial power, and this psychosis is getting worse.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who is neither Latin, nor Arab. He runs a website,, where he discusses the subculture of Arabs in Latin America. He wishes his Spanish were better.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

No comments:

Post a Comment