The high level of violent anti-Jewish incidents recorded in 2001 may be partly attributed to intensified efforts on the part of the Palestinian community to increase Chilean awareness of the Palestinian problem. Numerous threats to the Jewish community seem to have been inspired by the Middle East crisis and the September 11 events. Islamist elements in Chile are suspected of links with international terrorist groups. On the other hand, the extreme right was fairly quiet throughout the last year.
The 300,000-strong Palestinian community in Chile is the fourth largest in the world after those in Israel, Lebanon and Jordan. 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.
NOTE: The number given for Palestinians was probably low for 2001, but at least the Steven Roth Center acknowledged how well integrated into Chilean society the Palestinians were. What is most amazing is that the Steven Roth Center is upset that the Palestinian-Chileans are anti-Zionist: Did they really expect Palestinians to be pro-Israel?
The Stephen Roth Institute at Tel Aviv lays a large portion of the blame for this on Chile’s Palestinian population. No doubt some of this is true. The Palestinian-Chileans have influence analagous to America’s Jewish community; and even as Jews can influence the USA to Zionism, even so the Palestinian-Chileans can influence Chile contrariwise.
But the Stephen Roth Institute seems to equate all of the anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Does the Stephen Roth Institute feel that Palestinian-Chileans are obliged to be Zionist?
The following year (2002-3), the Steven Roth Center was indicating a more ominous development.
The escalation in anti-Jewish expressions by representatives of the Palestinian, Islamic and ultra-right sections in Chile in 2002 fueled a rise in antisemitic acts, mainly insults, threats and graffiti, which also increased in severity. Palestinian and Islamic groups were very active in 2002, denouncing Israel and championing the Palestinian cause, and antisemitic/anti-Zionist slogans were evident at some of their demonstrations. A state of emergency was declared in the Jewish community in December 2002 due to the large number of anti-Jewish acts that had been perpetrated and to the threat from al- Qa‘ida.
The Steven Roth Center notes the rise of Islamic influence, which is evident on some of the Pro-Palestinian Campaigns. Yes, this is disturbing, no doubt. But it also notes that Islam in Chile is very small – only about 3,000 out of the whole Chilean population around the year 2000. Even among Palestinian-Chileans, Islam is almost unknown. It should be stressed that the Islamic influences may not hold the general support of the Christian community who may see the struggle only in national terms.
Still the trend is distrubing; particularly when one sees Chilean Churches hosting meetings with Islamic graphics and icons.
What is happening is that an Islamic flavor is being parcelled out under the guise of Christian organizations. That part is troubling. For this reason, I suspect it is being partly subsidized by outside Arab oil money which is attaching Islamic influence to Christian-Palestinian-Chilean sympathies.
Also troubling is that some Muslims, among the very few Muslims in Chile, seem to be connected to terrorism.
But the Stephen Roth Institute seems to go after Christian organizations, without substantial proof.
The Fundación Palestina Belén 2000 (Palestinian Belen [sic] Foundation 2000) is the chief funding-raising organization in Chile for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Wealthy Palestinians from the community in Chile support the fund, which publishes a monthly journal, al-Damir. On its first anniversary on 25 June, the foundation organized an event, entitled Centro de Eventos Casa Piedra, attended by more than 1,000 invitees, including ministers, MPs, clerics, army officers and judges. Minister of the Interior Jose Miguel Insulza and Government Secretary Heraldo Muñoz both posed for a photograph, wearing a keffiah decorated with map of a Palestinian state covering the entire territory of the State of Israel.
NOTE: This shows some bias on the part of the Steven Roth Center. While a map which denies Israel’s right to exist is troubling; again, do they expect Palestinians to be Zionist? Is the Steven Roth Center as upset at Jewish maps which deny Palestine?
The Palestine Bethlehem Foundation (Fundación Palestina Belén 2000) is geared to a Christian outlook, and it may be that Medical tours to Gaza are demonized as pro-Hamas, which is absurd, since Hamas is violently Islamist and anti-Christian. They have shot Christian prosyletizers in Gaza.
What is more likely is that they are just proud Arab-Chileans.
Israelis also deny Palestine
Does the Stephen Roth Center find this troubling?
It is clear that large sections of the Palestinian-Chilean community deny Israel’s right to exist, but so do large sections of the Jewish community around the world deny Palestinians any right to existence. If asked, I can provide people with links to some ugly Pro-Israel sites where Arabs are denigrated mercilessly.
Another aspect has to be dealt with.
By the 1980s, some Arab Oil Plutocracies were filthy rich. They knew about the large numbers of Arab immigrants to South America, and there seems to have been a degree of propagandization. Into the mix was added the dangerous influence of Shi’a elements attached to Iran. This is probably the most genuinely disturbing.
But the Palestinian Christians are just that: Christian. We are not dealing with Jihadists at heart. Instead of getting upset at a few ethnic insults, why not reach out to these people? Give them a counter-stake in the peace process.
I suspect a large part of this is that Israel has ignored South America until it suddenly realized there was a problem. South America was getting prosperous and was pro-Arabs. Egads! What happened?!
Well, nature abhors a vacuum; and Saudi and Iranian money waltzed in.
Whose fault is that?
There was no one stoping the Israelis from outreaching to the Palestinians in Chile or the Syrio-Lebanese Christians in the rest of South America and reminding them of the abuses suffered by Christians in the Muslim Ummah. Certainly, the Maronites who have been slaughtered for centuries by Muslims are well aware of that history. Where they dominate in South America, the political climate seems to be milder.
The Israelis could have given the Chilean-Palestinians a chance to honestly mediate. They could have given them a stake.
Of course, the Palestinian-Chileans might have required concessions for their considerable help. Half a million Palestinians is not a number to laugh at; but was Israel ready to bargain with them?
I have to suspect that Israel wants only those who tow a hard Zionist line to affiliate with them. Okay! But then they blew an opportunity with the Palestinians in Chile and are now paying the price.
So the Saudis and Iranians waltzed in. They listened to the concerns of the Christian-Palestinians when the Israelis were not giving them an ear.
So now, the Stephen Roth Center blames the Palestinian-Chileans for part of Chile’s anti-Semitism, when their political stance may be a reaction to Israeli anti-Arabism; but that prejudice is never examined. Frankly, as nations go, Chile is pretty nice to Jews, and anti-Semitism is weak.
I find it odd that the Steven Roth Center seems surpised that Palestinians in Chile would not be sturdy Zionists; and seems to label their committent to Palestinians causes as troubling.
Aren’t the Christian Palestinians merely replicating the activities of the Zionist counterparts in the USA?
However, their nationalism aside, I myself find the unquestioning Chilean-Palestinian committment to a Palestiniam movement that is becoming more radically Islamic a bit puzzling. In light of the fact that their Christian ancestors fled Muslim Turkish oppression and imposed dhimmitude, I would have thought Palestinian-Christians would have taken a more moderate approach. But I do not find it so amazing that they are anti-Zionist. Some of them have Christian relatives who were chased out by the 1948 Nakba and again by the 1967 Naqsa.
Meeting with some Christian-Palestinian leaders and reminding them of the problems Christians have had under Muslim rule – especially their ancestors who fled Muslim rule – should be enough to dissuade some of them from continuing to support a Palestinian campaign which is increasingly Islamic and hostile to the Christians in the Mideast.
But Israel will have to offer something in return. Such as:
1) Genuine increases in building permits given to Christian Arabs. Not promises to consider things over while more settlements are built, and Arab houses demolished. The situation calls for permits NOT promises.
2) Allowances for Palestinian-Christians to drill water wells; and not just promises to look into it, but real permits issued
3) If annexation is sought, voting enfranchisement must be offered to Christians in Palestine. Christians might consider it. When word gets back to Chile, the Palestinian-Chilean-Christians might become less radical.
4) And yes, some right of return to Christian Palestinians. I am sure few would take up the offer. Who is going to leave the good life in Chile to start over in the Mideast; but it would purchase a lot of good will. This could be done quietly to prevent Muslims from getting upset.
5) Israel could require a minimal proficiency in Hebrew in order for voting certification for Christian Palestinians already in the Mideast contested areas.
If Israel wants to pursue the present policy of settlement increases, continued land confiscations over pretexts, housing demolitions, refusal of permits, no say in the Israeli government which collects taxes and rules over them, no end to the humiliating checkpoints, etc. then expect nothing from the Christian Palestinians. One hand has to wash the other.
Israel cannot expect Palestinian-Chilean support when all if offers them is the confiscation of Christian property and humilation of the few remaining Christians.
NOTE: I know Muslims treat the Christians badly, but if Israel wants
Christian support, they have to act considerably better than the Muslims.
The Palestinian-Chileans might be willing to work with you if you treat their cousins, the Christians still left in Palestine in the contested areas, as absolute equals instead of just some Arabs to be humiliated, mistreated, abused, and driven out of the area – which seems to be Israel’s overall plan, with the Peace Process being just a façade, a delaying tactic.
If Israel continues to treat the Christian Palestinians in the contested areas as enemy dhimmis (and yes, that IS how they are treated in the contested areas), then why should Christian Palestinians prefer dhimmitude under Jews to dhimmitude under Muslims. At least Muslims speak their language.
Right now, General Arieh Eldad wants to annex Judea and Samaria (the contested areas) without giving the vote to the Arabs. He wants to reserve them to the dhimmitude of mere residents – no doubt, deportable as needed to Jordan.
This is bureaucratic ethnic cleansing no matter how you pretty it up with nice phrases. You can call it “Zionist reasons,” but it is still ethnic cleansing.
Now, you may have security reasons to treat the Muslims this way, but even your security agencies know the Christians are not the threat.
If this is the plan that is offered, forget any help from the Chilean-Palestinians; and Israel will be partly responsible. You can’t treat people like crap and expect their cooperation.
Offer the Christians in the contested area permits, equality and, if Judea and Samaria are annexed, the vote. Christian Palestinians might take up the offer. If you refuse to offer it, because they are not Jewish, then don’t expect any help from their cousins in Chile.
This is a plan for slow ethnic cleansing of about 2 million Arabs by refusal of rights, refusal of building permits, etc.
You cannot do this to people and expect peaceable cooperation.
There has to be some hard – and I do mean hard – concessions made to the Arabs, at least the Christian ones, if you expect the now formidable Palestinian-Chilean lobby to suddenly change course and become more amenable to Zionism.
If you continue to evict his cousins in the contested areas, and second cousins in Bethlehem, wall them up in effectual prisons manned by soldiers, and humiliate them, then do not be surprised if the Chilean-Palestinians respond with counter ugliness against Chilean Zionists, and alas, including Jews.
The Palestinians are every bit as human as the Israeli Jews.
If Jews resist abuse and are protective about their cousins in Israel, the Palestinian-Christians in Chile are no less concerned about their Christian cousins in the area.
Unlike Muslims, the Christians can be reasoned with. The ball is in Israel’s court. Make them an offer. Do not expect their support until you do.