Chile

Arabs number about 800,000 in Chile, 5% of the population.


Arab immigration to Chile was so enormous and so influential that it merited a documentary commercial during their Bicentennial.

Chile is 5% Arab. The USA, by comparison, is only about 1% Arab.

To get an idea of this:  6% of America is Italian.  Arabs are almost as common in Chile as Italians are in America. Just as pizza, spaghetti, and Italian music/singers are common in America, even so is Arab food and culture in Chile. Probably more so; because the Italians in America are middle class, while in Chile, the Arabs are upper-middle class to elite.

About 60% of these Arabs are of Palestinian Christian descent. It was said that every Chilean town had a priest, a policeman and a Palestinian. These Palestinians set the manner and tone of the political discussion concerning Arab matters.

Almost all these Palestinian-Chileans (0ver 99%) are Christian, usually Syrian Orthodox. The prestige of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Chile has started to attract non-Arabic converts into its denomination.

Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Santiago and All Chile

There is also an increasing number of non-Arab Chileans who are joining Orthodoxy.

The Palestinians among the Arab-Chileans tended to come from four towns in the contested areas: Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Shahour, and Beit Safafa (now in the Eastern part of Jerusalem).

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Arab Studies: Viña del Mar
Learn to write and Speak Arabic

Most Palestinian-Chileans (about 80%) can trace their ancestry in Chile back to before 1930. Many go back to the 19th century. Most are intermarried now, and do not speak Arabic, though there is a renewed interest in it.

Just as Jews are seeking their Hebrew roots, Arab-Chileans are now seeking their Arab roots.

They were discriminated against for the first generation in the country. But in a short time, they rose to be the elites of Chile, commanding enormous influence and power.

From Wikipedia: Palestinos en Chile (Spanish)

The beginnings of Arab integration in Chile was rather difficult as they were affected by xenophobia by certain sectors, who considered them second-class immigrants who worked in an economic activity despised by the aristocratic Chilean street commerce. Palestinians in Chile, despite their cultural differences with Chilean society, managed to empathize and form an important part of the country’s middle class, although some of its members hold some of the greatest wealth of the country.

During their early years in America, the community chose endogamous marriages, as there was a hostile environment towards them. However, after that came a few years of prosperity and social integration as the situation changed. For example, in 1970, 70% of the marriages were with people from outside the community. During the 40′s came the first political positions, and by the 60′s, some families of Palestinian origin, such as the Yarur and Sumar families, became synonymous with wealth.



Centennial Pentecostal Revival in Chile

Note: Some of the Arab-Chilean ethnic societies are decidedly anti-Israel, inspite of their Christianity. This probably springs from the unusually high concentration of Palestinians among the Arabs in Chile. Argentina’s Arabs are roughly half Lebanese-Maronites. Maronite Catholics are Westernized, and so Argentina’s Arabs are not so radicalized concerning the Palestinian problems in the Mideast.

However, Chile is also in the midst of an Evangelical Revival, which has already won the affections of 15% of the population. The Evangelicals in Chile tend to be pro-Israel. There has been some friction between Palestinian-Chileans and the Evangelicals over the issue of Palestine.