Latin Arabia

A World You Never Knew Existed

Friday, November 9th, 2012

The Arabs of Latin America

I wrote this article for Amerian Thinker which was published on The Arabs of South America – Sept 2, 2012

The are a wonderful journal of American Thought. The rights remain with me; they only ask that authors give them first publication priority.

This article of mine was published two months ago.

The Arabs of South America – (AMERICAN THINKER) – Sept 2, 2012

Most Americans are unaware of this, but there is a massive Arab community in Latin America. Overall, 5% of Latin America is Arab in origin, which corresponds to roughly 25-30 million people. This can vary from a low of 2% in Uruguay to an astounding 9% in Argentina; but still you rarely hear about it, except for the occasional arrest of an al-Qaeda member. There is a good reason for this.

Latin-American Arabs are overwhelmingly Christian; usually they are Syrian Orthodox or Roman Catholic, the older liturgical churches which blend in seamlessly in the area. Those who aren’t have often converted to Evangelical Christianity. Islam, though found, is not so common among them. Overall, probably 97% or more of Latin-American Arabs are Christians, though this can vary from country to country.

The reason we rarely hear about these Arabs is because they are, for the most part, Westernized Christians. It was this Christianity which became the instrument of their assimilation and success.

The Arabs in South America tend to be elites. In many ways, their rise has mirrored the success of Jews in the United States, and even surpassed them.

The richest man in the world is a Lebanese-Mexican, Carlos Slim. A president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, was of Syrian origin. Three presidents of Ecuador were of Lebanese origin as well as one president of Colombia, Julio Tubay. A vice president in Uruguay and another in Brazil were Lebanese. At least two Central American presidents were of Palestinian origin, and this list is nowhere near complete. The famous actress Salma Hayek was born a Lebanese-Mexican. Shakira is part-Lebanese, and so on. Dissertations have been written on Latin Arabs, but sadly, few are in English.

The Arabs started arriving in the mid-19th century. Some, such as the Lebanese Maronite Catholics, were fleeing the genocidal assaults of Turkish and Druze Muslims, which would have exterminated them had it not been for French intervention in 1860. Later Maronites would flee PLO attempts at extermination. Others, such as Palestinian-Christians, fled Ottoman Turkish oppression and the military draft, where it was not safe to be a dhimmi in a Muslim Army. Syrian Christians left for similar reasons.

Almost none of this can be blamed on Zionists, whom the current fashion would accuse. The Arab flight started much too early. In the case of Palestinian-Christians, flight from Turkish rule removed a sizeable portion of the Christians out of the Holy Land before the Israeli-Muslim conflict even started. Yes, a few fled in 1948 and 1967, but these are not typical of the demographic.

In Brazil, the Arab presence is so ubiquitous that a Lebanese dish, kibbe, is now found all over Brazil, being sold by street vendors. A fast food restaurant chain called Habib’s has 300 outlets all over the country and specializes in Lebanese food, along with basic fare. Arabic food is now considered part of Brazilian. cuisine, much as we Americans have adopted Italian pizza.

In Chile, which received massive Palestinian-Christian immigration, one family, the Yarur family, rose to produce 60% of Chile’s textile manufacturing at one point. Palestinian-Christians are now 3% of Chile’s population, slightly more than the percentage of Jews in the United States. Another 2% of Chile is either Lebanese or Syrian Christian. Most are now monolingual Spanish-speakers, with many marrying outside their communities into other ethnic groups to finish the melting pot dynamic. The process has gone both ways, and Chile’s Syrian Orthodox Church now reports that “[t]here is also an increasing number of non-Arab Chileans who are joining Orthodoxy.”

The Arabs are so thoroughly integrated into Chile that a commercial honoring their history ran during Chile’s Bicentennial in 2010.

Chile’s Palestinians, roughly 450,000-500,000, are the largest population of Christian-Palestinians on the planet, outnumbering their Christian cousins in Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank) by a ratio of 3 to 1. Chilean-Palestinians are over 99% Christian, and they constitute about half the world’s Palestinian Christians. Only the Mideast has more Palestinians, but these are mostly Muslim. Chile is the world center of Palestinian Christianity.

So what can we learn from this?

The first thing we can learn is that in contravention of both prejudice and political correctness, Latin-American Arabs are proof that Arabs are not the problem; rather, Islam is. When the Arab is divorced from Islam, he cannot help but succeed; where he remains in Islam, he cannot help but fail. Even in the Mideast, apart from oil wealth, the Muslims are almost always poorer than the Christians. Only the demand for oil sustains them.

Latin America, until recently, was rarely a model of good governance; yet the Latin Arab prospered and excelled. He had native talent. During this same period, poverty was the norm in the Arab world outside a few oil plutocracies. The only difference between the two was religious affiliation, and this cannot be ignored. Nor is this racial prejudice, since we are talking about the same people. The only distinguishing feature is that Latin America’s Arabs are overwhelmingly Christian.

The success of the Irish, Sicilians, and Jews in America demonstrated that their impoverished condition in Europe was the result of oppression, and not some endemic racial or religious characteristic. The distinguishing feature was liberty vs. tyranny.

But Latin-American governments were often as corrupt as any Arab one. The only distinguishing feature between successful Latin Arabs and Old-World Arabs was religion, and we are forced to conclude that Islam is the source of Arab backwardness.

This is obvious, yet it remains unspoken.

Christianity, until the 7th century, was the dominant religion among the Arabs. Over time, it has dropped off. Today, 90% of Syrians and Palestinians are Muslims. Lebanon, which used to be Christian, is now majority-Muslim, with the Christians fleeing. It has been offered that the Christians have a lower birth rate, but the fact is that most just fled. Were the Syrian Orthodox and the Maronites in Latin America reintroduced to the Mideast, Syria and Lebanon would be majority-Christian; but no sane Latin Arab would want to return, especially now that stable democracy is the norm in their Latin countries.

Twenty-five to thirty million highly successful Latin-Arabs who prospered under a range of governments which ran the gamut from tyranny to liberty, from European Argentina to Mestizo Mexico, prove that the only thing which can hold an Arab back is Islam.

However, something is arising which is troubling.

Iranian and Islamic oil money has waltzed in to South America on a campaign of Islamization and anti-Zionism. Being overwhelmingly Christian, one would expect Latin Arabs to be immune to Islamic persuasion, and every indication is that they are. Yet, though the Saudis and Iranians can’t convert many of these Latin-Arabs to Islam, they have successfully converted a number of them to a virulent anti-Zionism.

The Saudis have financed the building of the King Fahd Mosque in Buenos Aires, even though only roughly 1% of Argentina is Muslim, and the vast majority of those are non-practicing, according to the Argentine academics Pedro Brieger and Enrique Herszkowich, who wrote, “a realistic guess for the Muslim population of Buenos Aires might be around 4,500, far fewer than the number projected by some Muslim officials.”

From this mosque, the Islamic Center of the Republic of Argentina (CIRA) has already been instrumental in the cancelation of a popular secular Arab-Argentine program to make way for a Saudi-financed Muslim show called El cálamo y su mensaje (The Quill and Its Message). The show is now on Argentine Public TV, even though the Arab-Argentine community wanted no part of it and protested the cancelation.

The Iranians have now set up HispanTV, an Iranian propaganda network aimed at Latin America. Iran’s English equivalent, PressTV, was banned from broadcasting to Britain recently because of it propaganda excesses. But HispanTV marches on.

We should not be surprised to find that Chile’s Palestinian community is starting to be radicalized against Israel, and in favor of an increasingly Islamic Palestinian cause. Though their ancestors fled Islam, they have now become the Western Christian face of pro-Palestinian propaganda in South America.

What has to be remembered is that in Latin America, while there are Jewish communities, particularly in Argentina, they have nowhere near the clout of AIPAC or the ADL, and so this Islamic propaganda can float in uncontested — and, in Venezuela’s case, with the support of the Chávez government. If one thinks Zionist groups have too much power in America, one should examine South America, where Arab lies go unaddressed, and see the difference. It is quite ugly.

The West has to fight for Latin America. The Islamic groups came in almost unopposed to propagandize the area. While the USA and Israel slept, the propaganda machine marched in. We cannot lay blame for all of this on Hugo Chávez and his partnership with Iran. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and we ignored the arena. The Muslims knew they had kinsmen in the West — albeit infidels — and sent out feelers. Al-Jazeera regularly reports on South American news. Why don’t our networks?

The USA, and Israel, must march in with a concerted effort. They must remind the Latin Arabs why they fled to South America in the first place. They must be as politically incorrect about it as the Muslims are. The USA must dispense with religious neutrality on this issue, or we will lose.

Right now, Chile’s Palestinians are an elite, and they should be disabused of their anti-Zionism. They have the potential of greatly helping or hurting Israel, as they are the standard-bearers of the Palestinian cause in South America. Some hard bargaining should be attempted.

Jewish organizations might consider sponsoring some Christians in the contested areas to emigrate to Chile. These Christians are stuck in a nasty situation, between two camps to which they do not belong. Whichever side prevails in the Holy Land, the Christians have to know they will be a minority. Prosperity in Chile would be an attractive alternative.

Brazil has surpassed Britain in economic power. Chile is now first-world. Argentina is borderline first-world. South America is rising. It should not be left to Muslim propaganda to determine its worldview.

Mercifully, the history of the Arabs in South America is helpful. They need only be reminded of why they are in South America in the first place.

As for the West, we should be apprised that South America is living proof that Islam is what is destroying the Arabs. In South America, the Arabs, freed from Islam, have risen to an enviable elite status. This has to be trumpeted to the world … and to the Islamic Ummah.
South America presents the world with a different view of what it means to be Arab: successful, rich, elite, and respected. All of this springs from their Christianity. There is no reason why the Muslim world should not be told the reason for their own failures, and the solution: Christianity.

There is one shining spot in all of this. There is a massive Evangelical revival going on in South America. It has even swept up some Arab Christians. Brazil is about ready to flip from Catholicism. Chile is now 15% Evangelical. Even Catholic Argentina is being affected. These Evangelicals are very pro-Israel, and Israel is starting to take notice, albeit far too late.

My article was well recieved. You can click here if you want to read the Readers Comments.

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil

The World Social Forum is running into some problem in Porto Alegre in Brazil.

It was supposed to be major political form about the Palestinian problem. Mondoweiss – a pro-Palestinian site – is reporting that Zionist groups in South America are interfering with the forum.

Brazil’s barbarians at Israel’s gate: South American Israel lobby tries to shut down World Social Forum on Palestine
by Marc H. Ellis on November 3, 2012

Whatever the internal squabbling, the outside pressure is worse. It’s being brought to bear on the conference itself. I received this update from the organizers yesterday:

In part they succeed, because now the WSF have lost the Usina do Gasômetro, the place where it would be held.


The Usina do Gasômetro is a cultural center in Porto Alegre, which was converted from a former power plant. Apparently some pressure was made to withdraw the venue. They now have to look for another venue.

Mondoweiss is right that Israel is starting to notice Latin America. Until recently, Latin America has been ignored by everyone. Chile and Brazil, which are now starting to emerge, are making that an impossible luxury.

Porto Alegre has a small Palestinian community. Brazil has somewhere between 10-15 Million Arabs; almost all are Christian, mostly Catholic.

I suppose it would only be natural that Palestinians would try to draw Brazil into the conflict. However, Brazilian Arabs are heavily Lebanese Maronites, descended from Maronite Lebanese Christians who fled waves of Muslim genocide, starting in the 19th century. These are not going to present a fertile ground for pro-Palestinian sympathies. Neither will the Arabs in Brazil who have become Evangelical Christians – and there are many in Brazil.

One should not necessarily equate Arab with pro-Palesitnian viewpoints, especially Christian Arabs in South America.

This does show that, inspite of relatively small numbers, Israel’s community has some clout in South America.

I have no problem with pro-Zionists trying to make their case known; however this strikes me more as trying to suppress the Palestinians from making their case. Rather than presenting the Israeli view, it seems they are trying to stop the Palestinian view. Rather than acting pro-Israel, they are acting anti-Palestinian. This does not strike me as right.

Israel should contend for itself, but not interfere with free speech.

The point here is that South America is becoming a battle ground between Zionists and pro-Palestinian activists. A region of the world which was one ignored is now being contested. I suppose, for the South Americans, it is a step up. They are getting noticed.

This was posted in August 2012 on YouTube

In the end, while the Palestinian cause may seem right, at an initial glance, it has the problem of purpose. What does it propose?

If the end result of Palestinian Liberation is an Islamic state like the Hamas run Gaza, mockingly called Hamastan, then Liberals the world over should flee from the cause.

I am not saying Israel is innocent. Some Israeli actions are appauling; but to favor an Islamic cause is sheer lunacy for Liberals. This is not a native vs. colonial, worker vs. capitalist, contest. Some Liberals cannot shake the old paradigm.

Old paradigms do not apply in the Mideast.

If you want to help the Palestinians, the first thing you must do is shake them of Islam. To free them of the very real settler violence and restore them to a pre-Medieval Mullah driven tyranny is NOT an improvement.

One has to be careful in this cause. The Palestinians look like a people worthy of solidarity; and certainly the Christians among them would be. However, 92% of the Palestinians are Muslim; and more fundamentalist strains are arising among them.

There is no happy solution to this problem, at this point; but while the Israeli treatment of Arabs in Judea and Samaria (what the world calls the West Bank) is harsh – and at times, brutal – one must be careful to make sure that the remedy is not worse than the disease.

Rather than spending money to finance BDS, Liberals might set up legal funds to buy construction permits for Palestinians; and to contest every land siezure in Israeli courts.

This would have the benefits of:

1) Being Legal: Setting up a legal fund is, by definition, legal

2) Avoiding the legal question of boycotting Israel: Boycotting Israel can be illegal in some jurisdictions. The matter of boycotting settlements falls into a gray area. Do you want to be on the wrong end of a lawfare litigation?

3) Forcing Israel to act legally: A people committed to HaTorah (the Law) can sometimes be restrained by appeals to law.

My point here is that the Liberals in the West are not embracing the Palestinian cause with wisdom.

Are the Arabs in Judea and Samaria (what the world calls the West Bank) oppressed?

Absolutely! They have been for a long time.

Would creating a Palestinian government help them?

Not necessarily.

Restoring the Arabs in Judea and Samaria to Islamic rule is not an improvement.

So what should progressives do?

Set up a fund to help Arabs pay for the expenses necessary to get permits.

Set up a fund to help Arabs build once the permits are granted.

Set up a fund to help Arabs leave Islam, which is their chief oppressor.

The Left is out of its mind to be blanket supporting any cause which is tainted with an Islamic flavor.

Any Leftist cause which supports Palestine against Israel while ignoring the greater atrocities in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, etc. is hypocritical.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Lutheran Church – Bethlehem

Lutheran Church in Bethlehem

Bethlehem Christian scouts

In 1948, the city of Bethlehem was 85% Christian. By 1967, the population was 46% Christian. Recently, the Christians have dropped to 10% of the population in the metro area. Clearly, the flight of Christians was primarily during the era of Muslim control during the time of Jordanian rule.

There is also a large anti-Christian element in the Muslim community.

Violence against Christians

This is a very beleaguered community. Israel should be doing its best to reach a deal with them, rather than treating them to restrictions more appropriate for the Muslim community.

Sometimes the Christians don’t act Christian

There are Armenian, Coptic, Greek, Protestant, and Roman Catholic, and Syrian denominations in the city.

It is from this stock that Palestinian Arabs in Latin America primarily sprang.

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Loss of Memory

Youth1 Trip to the Mideast
Jan 2012 Fearab Chile

Take a look at the picture to the right. This is a notice for trip to the Mideast by a Chilean Arab Youth Group in January 2012.

This was sponsored by the FEARAB-Chile (Federation of Arab Societies – Chile).

Notice the picture of the Islamic Dome of the Rock.

Muslims are an almost imperceptible 0.025% of Chile’s population. Over 99% of Chile’s Palestinians alone (I am not even including the other Arabs), are Christian. So why this is the Islamic Dome of the Rock on their image? Why not a picture of a Christian Church; the ones their ancestors attended back in the Holy Land? Isn’t the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem worthy of a photo for a Christian people?

Time and again, you will find that Chilean Palestinians, though Christian, are adopting Islamic motiffs. This is the product of radicalization.

Most Arabs in Chile arrived long before 1948. A good portion were fleeing Turkish, not Zionist, oppression. A second group came during the Mandate era for economic opportunity. These left voluntarily; and not due to the Nakba. It is as if the Palestinians in Chile have forgotten their history, only to replace it with a false memory forged by Mideast propagandists.

This virulent anti-Zionism is a relatively recent development.

Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism – 2001-2 Report about Chile

The Palestinians, who began arriving in the country at the beginning of the 20th century, are well integrated into Chilean economic, political and cultural life. Until the outbreak of the first intifada there was no evidence of Palestinian antisemitic or anti-Zionist activity.

Until the first Intifada, which started in December 1987, there was no major Palestinian-Chilean activity in the arena of Mideast political involvement.

In their 1997-8 Report, the Stephen Roth Institute does not mention Palestinian activity in Chile.

However, when one reads more recent reports from the Stephen Roth Institute, incidents involving members of the Palestinian community are being noticed.

From a Jerusalem Post article in 2010:

Police in Chile guard Jews after anti-Semitic attacks

The president of Chile’s Jewish community has been given police protection following a spike in anti-Semitic attacks across the country.

Zaliasnik said attacks on Chile’s 20,000 Jews were relatively rare in comparison with other Latin American countries, but that there had recently been an outburst of anger against Israel following its interception of the Gazabound flotilla, an incident that left nine activists dead two months ago.

Public opinion in Chile is often influenced by the country’s politically powerful 200,000 Palestinian immigrants and their descendents.

The Palestinian community is to Chile what the Jewish community is to the US,” Zaliasnik explained.

(emphasis in red was mine)

The Jerusalem Post article grossly underestimated the number of Palestinians in Chile – the real number is approx: 450,000; but it does correctly assess the power of the Palestinian elite in Chile. It is akin to power of Jewish lobbies in the USA.

The Palestinians can drive a lot of Chilean government policy.

However, what is amazing is that the Palestinians in Chile forget that their ancestors primarly came to Chile to escape Islamic tyranny, NOT Zionism.

Clearly Arab Oil Money is driving some of this. But what does it say about human psychology that Chilean Palestinians have opened themselves up to this.

I do not expect Palestinians to be Zionists. Yes, there is nothing wrong with being concerned for their distant cousins back in the contested areas of the Holy Land. But this virulent anti-Semitism indicates not merely a loss of historical memory; but a replacement of historical memory by a great lie: as if the community had been subjected to hypnotic suggestion.

The Palestinians of Chile could be a force for mediation, but instead they are being manipulated by outside influences whom their ancestors would have rejected.

Instead of working with Israel to lighten the load for the Christians in the contested areas – maybe getting Jerusalem visiting rights; even an offer of enfranchisement – Palestinian Chileans seem to be supporting an agenda of jihad.

No good will come of this.

The Palestinian Ambassador visits the Arab community and lays down
a monument, dedicated to the Palestinian struggle, in Iquique – a city
with a large Arab community in the semi-tropical north of Chile.
CNN showed up.

1JUventud Árabe de CHile (Arab Youth of Chile).

Friday, August 31st, 2012

The King Fahd Mosque

The King Fahd Mosque was built on eight acres of downtown Buenos Aires on land donated in 1995 to the Saudis by Carlos Menem, the president of Argentina, and the Argentine Congress. Menem was a nominal convert to Catholicism, being himself the son of Syrian born Muslim immigrant parents.

In the 1990s, Buenos Aires was a boom city, and one of the most expensive places on the planet to live (This was before their currency collapse). So donating eight acres was equivalent to donating Bryant Park in Manhattan to the Saudis. One wonders what possessed the Argentine government to donate such prime real estate to the Saudis.

A Tour of South America’s Largest Mosque

Non-Muslims in Argentina don’t seem to know much about this complex other than that former President Carlos Saúl Menem (himself of Syrian descent) was responsible for it. This is somewhat true. King Fahd of Saudia Arabia financed the construction, which totaled some U$15m. Menem’s contribution was arranging the donation of the land, which has been valued at around U$10m. Congress passed a national law in 1995, giving the land to the cultural centre. The first stone was laid on 7th December 1998, not without some slight controversy: neighbours were unsure about the increased traffic and architectural disharmony, among other issues. But the centre opened on 25th September 2000 with much fanfare as King Fahd himself and 250 other dignitaries came from Saudi Arabia to celebrate the opening.

It is architecturally beautiful, and positively enormous. – it is the biggest Mosque in South America. But there were only 4,500 practicing Muslims in Buenos Aires, at that time, and there was no need for it. It has given the Saudis a door into Argentina to create future headaches.

Source: The Muslim Community of Argentina

… a realistic guess for the Muslim population of Buenos Aires might be around 4,500, far fewer than the number projected by some Muslim officials.

Already the Mosque’s Islamic Center has caused some controversy. A very popular secular Arab-Argentine show, Desde El Aljibe (From the Well)1 was cancelled to make way for Muslim programming that no one wanted – rumors flew around as the to the reason; but what is interesting is that Argentina’s Arab Community, which is 90% or more Christian were among the loudest to complain.

Islam is roughly 1% of the population in Argentina, but even that number may be grossly exaggerated. As academics have noted, the vast majority of Muslims in Argentina do not practice their religion; and were historically inclined to marry into Catholicism. This mosque may slow or halt that process of assimilation.

Until recently, much of South America was content to remain out of Mideast politics. However, now Iranian and Arab Oil Money have infiltrated this very Christian continent. Every nation in South America, except Colombia, recognized Palestine as a nation and set up embassies.

If the USA and Israel do not wake up, the Arabs will turn South America against Israel. Certainly the Saudis and Iranians won’t convert the mass of the Latins to Islam; but they will spread a virulent anti-Zionism.

1Desde El Aljibe (From the Well) was a generic show about Arab culture, music, cooking, dance, history and travelogues. They even had short lessons on the Arab language, geared to teach the Spanish speaking audience a few phrases.

Music and singing were common on Desde el Aljibe (From the Well).
Source: ElAljibedetodos, a viewer who assembled hundreds of these videos on his YouTube channel.

The hosts were Christian, but the show was secular. The show had Muslims and Jews on regularly. It was aimed at a generic audience, not just Arab-Argentines. A typical show might have a cooking lesson, some history, maybe a travelogue about Jordan or Syria, etc. There might be a discusson of politics. And it would have Arab or Arab-Latin music; and often close with an Arab folkdance troupe. It was on Argentine Public TV, and their old webpage is still up though the show has been cancelled. The show was primarily harmless and pushed no strong agenda. Palestine might be mentioned from time to time, but the show did not beat a war path.

No one wanted this but the Saudi financed Islamic Center

When Desde El Aljibe got cancelled to make way for a blantantly religious Muslim show, centered from the King Fahd Mosque, there was a degree of community protest. Was this due to money or bribes? Did the ratings drop that much because a popular host on the show died? But even if the ratings dropped, why would the show be replaced with a show geared to Muslim prosyletization to a Catholic country?

The fate of Desde El Aljibe seems to be symptomatic of a general trend of growing Arab Oil Money influence in the continent. The issue was not so much that it was cancelled, but that is was replaced by Muslim programming nobody seemed to have wanted but the Islamic Center.

When news got out about the cancellation, FEARAB Argentina (Federation of Arab Societies in Argentina) put out a protest video to stop the cancellation. No one listened, but it does show that the Arab community in Argentina had enough guts to stand up to Islamic encroachment which did not represent them.

Their video – which I translated – is worth watching as it shows a gutsy political incorrectness missing in American political dialogue

The background music is Awal Sahur
a piece by Mario Kirlis, an Arab-Latin musician,
and it was Desde El Aljibe‘s closing theme

Sadly, their request was ignored.

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