Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Chile’s Palestinian Radicalism-03

Chile has half the world’s Palestinian Christians.

Most Palestinian-Chileans have ancestors who arrived long before 19301, thus making them ineligible for any claim that they were victims of the Nakba. I estimate that only 10,000 or so would even take up the option of the right of return even if it were presented to them.

Yet, even though they are now 3rd and 4th generation Chilean, they have kept up a degree of contact with the homeland. Many, not all, have some relatives – or distant relatives – who are in Judea and Samaria (the contested areas, what the world calls the West Bank). Many are now intermarried with Italian-, German-, Spanish-, and Basque-Chilean stocks, so their ethnic affiliation, while there, is attenuated.

These are among the elites of Chile, and probably among the elites of all of South America, especially concerning the Arab-South American community.

Yet, they are starting to be radicalized. Until the 1980s, except for a few minor political actions, they were not involved in Mideast politics.2 They were busy chiefly with assimilating and amassing wealth, two projects at which they excelled.

But no one can watch daily TV reports of street fighting which may involve distant relatives and not be concerned. Over the years, even as they assimilated even more, they have become more and more anti-Israel.

With their clout, and the cachet of Palestinian identity, Palestinian-Chileans could pull a lot of South American Arabs into their camp. This would not be so good for Israel; if Israel allows recent Iranian and Saudi influences to go uncontested. South America is emerging and too important now to ignore.

Brazil is now the sixth largest economy in the world. Chile is now first world. Argentina has been borderline first world for about 100 years, never managing to cross the line but always approaching it. Uruguay is almost middle class.

The Palestinians of Chile, who are half the world’s Palestinian Christians, and the largest Palestinian colony outside the Mideast have the potential to do great damage or great good for Israel’s case. Israel should not be ignoring this.

The Palestinian-Chileans’ position as elites in South America commands attention.

The first thing Israel should do is realize that whatever happens to the Christians in Judea and Samaria (the contested areas, what the world calls the West Bank) will get back to Chile. Not every Palestinian-Chilean has close relatives in the Mideast anymore, but enough do that any bad news from the Mideast will rifle throughout their community in Chile.

In order for Israel to win support from Palestinian-Chileans, it is necessary for Israel to go easy on the Christians in Judea and Samaria. Israel should differentiate the Christians from the Muslims. This does not have to be proudly broadcast to the world, but it can be communicated quietly to the Christians in both Judea and Samaria; also to their distant brethren in Chile.

Israel ought to remind the Palestinians in Chile that many of the Arabs of South America are descended from those who fled Muslim tyranny; whether the tyranny of Turkish rule, or the slaughters of Christians, which has occurred more than once, both requiring outside intervention to save the Christians3.

Israel must bring up this history when dealing with South American Arabs. They need to be reminded that Islam not Zionism is their traditional enemy.

While Israel is doing nothing, Saudi and Iranian propaganda are coming in and having a devastating effect. The Christian Palestinian community, which should not be supporting Islamist causes, is now supporting Abbas. Groups with Islamic connections are now speaking at Syrian Orthodox Churches in Chile.

Israel should contact the increasingly important Paletinian-Chilean community and cut a deal with them. They will enfranchise their Christian cousins in Judea and Samaria, and give them building permits, in return for a united front against Islam. There are only about 167,000 Arab Christians in Judea and Samaria according to the Wikipedia; which admits this is a high estimate, and the real number is lower. Israel could afford to admit them to Israeli nationality. It would produce a world of good will in Latin America.

This would be a quid pro quo of sorts. Palestinians in Chile would support Israel in exchange for the enfranchisement of their cousins left in the contested areas of the Holy Land.

The Palestinian-Christians might accept it. They have to be aware that no matter who is in charge in the contested areas, the Chritians will be a minority. Better to be a minority under a Jewish state than minority under an increasingly Islamic Palestinian state.

These Westernized Christian Arabs of South America could present an alternative face of the Arabs to the world. The Muslim Arab world would then be faced with alternative definition of what it means to be Arab. Islam might lose its cachet.

Are Arabs backwards, women destroying lunatics; or are they progressive, rich elites? The difference is Christianity. Though unstated, the Arabs might reconsider the wisdom of Islam, which is what Israel would want.

Israel should consider reaching out to the Palestinian-Christian in South America, and view them as a potential ally rather than an opponent.

Palestinian Radicalism-01
Palestinian Radicalism-02
Palestinian Radicalism-03

1See Wikipedia:Arab Chileans61% of the Arabs arrived in our country did between 1900 and 1930. Over 60% of Arabs who came were between 10 and 30 years old”

Note: I have seen that number go as high as 81% of Palestinians arrived before 1930. (Click Here) What this means to Israel is that only a small portion of the community can lay claim to being Nakba refugees. Probably only one-fifth of the Palestinians in Chile can lay claim to being refugees, or near descendents of the refugees, of the Nakba. Of these, 90% are probably doing so well in Chile, that they would not choose the option of returning even were it presented to them.

2The Stephen Roth Institute for the Studay of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, wrote in 2001-2, about Chile’s Palestinians, “Until the outbreak of the first intifada there was no evidence of Palestinian antisemitic or anti-Zionist activity.”

3The French intervened in the 19th century. The Israelis intervened in 1982. In both cases, the Christians were on the verge of extinction.