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Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Thoughts of a Palestinian Chilean

Middle East Monitor

Ramona Wadi
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 17:45

Can you narrate the origins of the Palestinian community in Chile?

There were three important migrations of Palestinians to Chile. The first registered migration occurred in 1880, although it is noted that those who arrived prior to this, in 1850, quickly returned to Palestine. The era was that of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which exercised its power over Arab nations and imposed higher taxes on the income of non-Turkish subjects of the empire, making life very difficult. With this migration, the doors of South America were open to Palestinians. Their preferred destinations in the region were Chile, Peru and Bolivia – notably because of the similarities in climate, landscape and the perceived opportunities offered by a developing country which had just celebrated its 100 years of independence. The migration intensified during the World Wars for reasons well understood. The Turks sent Arab youths, as young as fifteen, to the battle front. The parents, in an attempt to prevent probable death, sent their sons to ‘conquer the world’ through travels, with the intention of joining their offspring and returning to a normal family life once they became established in another country. These families were mostly Christian families who suffered discrimination at the hands of the Empire. Migrants from Syria and Lebanon also faced the same problems.

The second migration occurred during the British Mandate for Palestine, which was contrary to the agreements between Palestinians and General Allenby who promised Palestinians their independence if they fought against the Turks. My grandfather was part of this migration to Chile in 1925. The mandate caused widespread discontent amongst Palestinians due to the entry of European Zionists; also British laws were harsh in relation to Palestinians.

The third migration happened after the Nakba Catastrophe in 1948. Palestinians were dominated by Jordanians and Israelis, making life extremely difficult especially for those with large families. My father’s family completed their migration in 1951, returning only sporadically to Chile to visit relatives who stayed behind. There was a fourth migration, not as large as the previous, which took place in 1967 upon the total occupation of Palestine

Mauricio Abu-Ghosh was detained in Isael, and refused entry to the Palestinian Territories in 2012.

The article goes on to describe the speaker as Mauricio Abu-Ghosh, a first generation Palestinian Chilean with ancestral roots in Beit Jala. Mr. Abu Ghosh is also President of the Palestinian Federation of Chile.

He has apparently come to the attention of Israeli authorities who have detained him when he has tried to end the Palestinian territories.

I do not fault him for not being Zionist. I suppose that would be too much to ask of a Palestinian, whether Christian or Muslim. But he should at least acknowledge that the Christians have been persecuted by Muslim as well.

Middle East Monitor

Ramona Wadi
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 17:45

We also do a program on Radio Universidad de Chile, which runs every Sunday at 7pm – an hour of analysis, news and interviews. As can be seen, the Federation is growing and we will continue spreading the just cause of the Palestinians.

What has to be noted is that He is Christian. Beit Jala was a Christian town. He was careful to downplay the aspect of Christianity, but he should not have avoided the issue.

Make no mistake about it. The Palestinians of Chile are becoming radicalized.  Chile is the elite capitalist workhorse of South America.  The Palestinians are the elite of Chile.   If this is not contested, it will have a disastrous effect for the West.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

The Moderating Effect of the Lebanese

Congreso Mundial Juventud Libanesa – JUCAL 2012  [World Congress Lebanese Youth]
Juventud Unida Cultural Argentino Libanesa. [Lebanese-Argentina Youth Cultural Union]
Vivir el Libano en Argentina. [Living Lebanese in Argentina]
Buenos Aires Octubre 2012

That video was posted in October 2012.   This is the website of the Lebanese-Argentine Youth Cultural Union: (Click Here)

There are 1-1/2 Million Lebanese in Argentina. Most are Maronite (affiliated with Roman Catholicism) Christians. They have an enormously moderating effect in South America wherever Arabs have settled.

From what I have seen Lebanese Maronites are as not concerned as much about Palestinian issues as other Arabs are. Some are downright hostile to Palestinians. The Lebanese tend to be more concerned about becoming assimilated Westerners, evincing a love of Lebanese cuisine, music, and dance, yet maintaining a sort of quasi-Arab identity.

There are chiefly nine (9) reasons for this:

1) For centuries, the Maronites had been oppressed by Druze overlords. Lebanese Maronite Christians were almost exterminated by Muslims in the 19th century. The French Army had to intervene to prevent a genocide. (Click Here).

2) The Palestinian refugees were a major issue in the Lebanese Civil War. The Lebanese Maronite Forces and the Palestinian forces both committed massacres against each other’s communities.

3) Israeli intervention in the Lebanese Civil War, in 1982, may have prevented a major defeat of Lebanese Christians. The Christian leader Bashir Gemayel even considered an alliance with the Israelis. Some Maronites consider the Israelis to be the savior of Lebanese Christians.

4) Many Lebanese Maronites do NOT consider themselves as Arabs per se – though they speak Arabic, now. They consider themselves Phoenicians, who were overrun by the Arabs in the 7th century, but who remained distinct from the Arabs/Muslims (Click Here). The philosophy is called Phoenicianism; and I have seen Maronites get furiously angry if they are called Arabs.


5) Until the 18th century, many Maronites spoke Aramaic – a language of the Bible – not Arabic, which indicates how distinct they were from surrounding Arabs. Once they did learn Arabic, many spoke it better than the Arabs, by virtue of a Christian education.

6) Historically, the Maronite Church affiliated with Rome, not the Eastern Churches. Their religious orbit was to the West, not the East.

7) Their religious affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church, and political connections with the French, gave them a Western mindset that was lacking in other Arabs.  Though Arabic speaking by the 19th century, a few also spoke French.   French contacts, such as priests, tended to prefer the Maronites over the other locals; and for all intents and purposes treated the Lebanese Maronites as if they were Europeans with a funny language.  This gave the Maronites a leg up, not only over the Muslims, but also the Syrian Orthodox Christians, who tended to have a stronger Arabic center.

8)  The Maronites love wine/arak (alcohol), and will eat pork and shellfish.  They are not bound by Muslim, or Jewish food laws.  This further distinguishes them.

9) While there are other Lebanese Christians, most tend to be of a Christian Orthodox persuasion, with a historical Eastern/Arabic outlook. Contrast this with the Maronites, who boast of being the ancient Phoenicians who settled Italy, Sicily, Spain, and who made it out to the British Isles. They seem themselves as all but proto-Westerners. So they have little or no problems assimilating into a Western culture. It is their destiny. It is where there ancestors went … to the West.

So the Lebanese tend to assimilate very well into the Western world. Almost seamlessly.

The Lebanese Christians tend to be moderate to Western in their views regarding the Mideast; and can, at times, be pro-Israel.  This does not mean they are necessarily thrilled with Israel; but they have enough bad experiences in their history fighting Muslim forces that they tend to shy away from getting as involved in the Palestinian cause.

Some Maronites are downright hateful of the Palestinians. Some consider the Palestinian refugees to have started the Lebanese Civil War, and to have destroyed Lebanon. The Palestinians often share an equal, but counter-aversion, to the Maronites; and consider the Maronites to have started the Lebanese Civil War. But sides committed atrocities.

I have noticed that Argentina’s and Brasil’s Arabs tend to be less hostile to Israel than Chile’s Arabs.


Because Argentina’s and Brazil’s Arabs are top heavy with Lebanese Maronites, while Chile’s Arab’s are top heavy with Palestinians.

This is noticeable when studying the Arabs of South America.

To see this in effect, look at these former logos on two similar websites.

FEARAB – Argentina
(Note : the Website is now down)

FEderación de Entitades Arabes (Federation of Arab Groups) – Argentina

Notice the Argentine flag. Notice that one of the changing images is of a Gaucho

The Arab-Argentine society laid emphasis on the Gaucho. They are emphasizing and embracing an assimilated Argentine/Western identity.

Now look at a former logo on the Chilean Site!

FEARAB – Chile
(Note : the Website has changed its logo)


FEderación de Entitades Arabes (Federation of Arab Groups) – Chile

Israel is erased from the map!

The Arab-Chilean society laid emphasis on the struggle against Israel.

Why the difference?

Chiefly because 60% or more of the Arabs in Chile are Palestinian.

In Argentina, the opposite is true where roughly half the Arabs in Argentina are Lebanese, and the number of Palestinians is far smaller.  The Lebanese also predominate among Arabs in Brazil.

So in Argentina, the Western leaning Lebanese set the agenda, while in Chile the Palestinians set a different agenda.

The Latin-Maronites seek assimilation, while the Latin-Palestinians retain an ethnic identity of struggle (even though the Palestinians in Chile are Christian).

This is all the more amazing when one realizes that Christian Palestinians have been in Chile in large numbers since 1890.   What distinguishes them is that Christian Palestinians tend to be Syrian Orthodox Christian, which is an Eastern Church, while Maronite Catholicism is affiliated with Rome in the West. So, the Christian-Palestinians retain their Arab identity, while the Maronites are all but wannabe Westerners.

From their insistence on Christianity, to affiliation with Rome (rather than the local Eastern Churches), to their alliances with the French, to their friendly dealings with Israel, the Maronites are so Western that their Muslim neighbors have fought them on more than one occasion as traitors to the “Arab nation,” which ironically has a germ of truth, as many Maronites do not consider themselves Arabic, but Phoenician.

So Westernized Maronite Lebanese are NOT a Myth.

In Latin America, they blend in without a hitch.  Where Maronites predominate in the Arab community, they smooth the Westernization of the  Arab community.  In Chile, their moderating influence is weak, by virtue of a smaller demographic.

May 11, 2017 – Edited – Massive changes, and updated links.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Student Protest Chile

From: Nov 2012 during the Gaza War

What you should notice is the man on the right. His flag says Union Nacional Estudiantil [National Student Union].

This pro-Palestinian attitude is far more mainstream in Chile than in the USA.

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Palestine Bethlehem 2000 Foundation and Al Damir

Note: This charity is probably best translated as the Palestine-Bethlehem Foundation 2000. However the website URL translates to Bethlehem 2000 Foundation. Spanish often puts the adjectives after the noun; and in this case, it is a wacky combination which is awkward to translate.

fundacion_belen_2000The Fundación Palestina Belen 2000 [Palestine Bethlehem 2000 Foundation1] (Click Here) is a major Palestinian-Chilean charity organization which claims to help the Palestinians in the contested areas.

They appeal to the ethnically strong Palestinian-Chilean community, which forms a rich elite. Though Palestinians are only 3% of Chile’s population, yet they are 10% of the Chilean Senate. Their political clout is enormous.

Even though many Chilean-Palestinians are intermarried with non-Arabs and are 3rd-5th generation Chilean, they have recently started to re-discover their Arab roots, even as American Jews are re-discovering their Hebrew roots.

Not just Palestinian-Chileans,  nor Chileans in general; but also English speakers are also encouraged to donate to the Palestine-Bethlehem Foundation 2000.   The site is both in English and Spanish.

The reason the translation is so good is because someone else did it.
At (1:42) Diego Villegas admits he is part Palestinian

The Palestine Bethlehem 2000 Foundation especially emphasizes the Christian character of their charity. After all, 99%+ of Palestinian-Chileans are Christian.  Their  website shows wonderful crosses, and smiling kids. They do wonderful things like send medical teams to Palestine. Naturally, one would expect them to support the Gospel.

Almost all English speakers who come to the site would be Christian. Or would they?

According to this web source, this Christian (?!) charity may not be as Christ-centered as it claims.

The Media Line

According to official sources, the stated aim of the foundation (translated as “Palestine-Bethlehem 2000”) is to provide “scholarships, medical and economic aid to the Palestinian Authority.” Yet, a Chilean government source described the organization to The Media Line (TML) as a lobby. The Anti-Semitism and Racism Institute claims that this foundation is the chief fund-raising organization in Chile for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Wealthy Palestinians from the Chilean community support the fund, which publishes the monthly journal, A-Damir. In celebration of its first anniversary on June 25, 2002, the foundation organized an event, attended by more than 1,000 invitees that included ministers, Members of Parliament, clerics, army officers and judges. Minister of the Interior Jose Miguel Insulza and Government-Secretary Heraldo Muoz both posed for a photograph, wearing a kafiyah decorated with a map depicting a Palestinian state that encompassed land that today is the entire state of Israel.

A Chilean source connected to the Chilean Intelligence Agency (CIA) told TML that this particular fund managed to collect $6m in one year, but that the funds do not always find their way to needy Palestinians. Instead, much of the money goes to charities identified with Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization.

I cannot tell you if this is true or not. It might be Israeli spin. On the other hand, why would the Chilean CIA pander to Israeli spin? Do they know something?


The Palestine Bethlehem 2000 Foundation also publishes a glossy web magazine extolling Chilean-Arabs, called Al Damir [The Conscience/Heart].

(Click Here) to see online back issues.

Fundación Palestina Belen 2000 / Palestine Bethlehem 2000 Foundation’s Al Damir Magazine (SPANISH LANGUAGE)
Notice the priest, and the doctors. Appeals to Palestinians in Chile who are Christian.

Each issue prints articles about Arab-Chilean achievement in Chile, gossip, the medical work they do in Palestine, Palestinian culture, the Arab footprint in Chilean politics, etc, even as they give a general anti-Israel spin.

This is not all about the Mideast. They might print an article about a prominent scientist or businessman in Chile who happens to be of Palestinian descent.

Now all of this, in and of itself, would come in under free speech; and there would be nothing to notice except just exactly how prosperous the Palestinians are in Chile.

Al Damir has attracted major multinationals advertisers: Coca Cola, Air Canada, Hugo Boss2, etc. You sell to people who have money. Basic Capitalism 101.

Even this would be okay …


And, according to the Media Line quote (above), the Chilean CIA says they might be.

It could prove embarrassing.

An ad for Coca Cola products in Al Damir magazine – issue #91, November 2012
(Click Here) to find other ads for Air Canada, Hugo Boss, Ellus Jeans, the Bank of Palestine, etc.

Could somebody please verify – one way or the other – if the Palestine Bethlehem 2000 Foundation, and by extension: Al-Damir, has anything to do with Hamas?

This Chilean Christian (?!) charity is not a shoddy operation. It seems to be a well run and polished operation.

But it they are sending money to charities affiliated with Hamas, there could be problems. It would be frightful to think Hamas is being subsidized by multinationals, especially if they are doing it unawares.

They are advertising now. This cannot be ignored.

Their ad shows a girl dressed like a typical Christian schoolgirl in Chile. What they do not show is how many of the Palestinians schoolgirls will be forced to wear hijabs, or burqas, especially in Gaza.

If they are truly helping children in Palestine … then God Bless Them!

If they are funneling money to charities run affiliated with Hamas – as the site above has accused them of – then somebody has to intervene, if only to get the Palestine Bethlehem 200 Founation to direct its money more wisely.

1Because of the wacky way the charity is named, it may best translated as the Palestine Bethlehem 2000 Foundation. If there are descrepancies in the video and the text, it is because it is awkwardly named.

2Hugo Boss, a German fasion house, made a good part of the fashion wear for the Nazi SS. There is a bit of scandal to their origins. They really should be circumspect in their support of the Palestinian Bethlehem 2000 Foundation, with their advertising.

An earlier version of the Palestine Bethlehem 2000 Foundation website had the geography of Palestine defined so as to deny Israel altogether.

They seem to have cleaned up their act when it became apparent that others were noticing that they were denying the right of Israel to exist. The geography page on their website is now gone.

November 25, 2017 – Edited: minor edits.

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