History of Activism

Solidarity Campaign for Palestine

Until the First Intifada, in the 80’s, the Arabs of Chile were relatively quiet on the international scene. They were not thrilled with Israel, but did not get too involved. However, after the First Intifada, Chilean Arab opinion changed. What motived this chiefly was the high concentration of Palestinians among the Arab community. They could set the tone. So Chilean Arabs tend to be more ‘radicalized,’ at least by Zionist definitions.

Up until the 1940s, Chilean Arabs were assimilating and climbing socially, and their chief interest in the Mideast was having Chile vote against Partition. Beyond that, you do not hear too much from Arab-Chileans.

From the 1940s to the 1960s, they seem to have concentrated on building wealth and status – which some did quite successfully. Yes, there was some new immigration and some new refugees to Chile after ’48 and after the ’67 Six Day War, but not enough to significantly change things. The new Arabs would come into an already significant Arab population which would absorb and assimilate them.

By the 1970s, intermarriage outside the community was common.

During the worst of the Pinochet dictatorship during the 1970s, survival was probably their main concern, as was everybody’s else’s concern in Chile. But by 1988, a form of democracy had returned; and Chile’s Economic Miracle had started. Satellite Broadcasting (which only started with America’s Telstar in 1962) was now common all over the world.

Suddenly, to see the street fighting of the Intifada in the contested areas nightly on Chilean TV must have triggered a latent ethnic memory.

The Fundación Palestina Belén 2000 (Palestinian Bethlehem Foundation 2000) is primarily aimed at Christians. (the link is to the English portion of the site)

1) The Bethlehem Palestinian Foundation emphasizes medical and charitable aid to Palestine, often sponsoring medical tours to ravaged areas; and subsidizing school children, often Christian, as evinced by their names. (Click here) to see some sponsored Children, often with obvious Christian names.
2) The Bethlehem Palestinian Foundation publishes a magazine, Al-Damir (in Spanish), which emphasizes the contribution of Arabs in Chile, and emphasizes Christian Paletinians as well as the struggle in Palestine.
3) It has a website in both English and Spanish.
4) Al-Damir (in Spanish) is an impressive online magazine which has respectable sponsors. It is a shining example of Palestinian-Christian clout.

A Chilean Medical team affiliated with the Foundation went to Palestine to help Children with traumatic injuries.
NOTE: I will try to translate the Spanish later on: Good Lord willing.

Palestinian Activism has blossomed from almost dormancy to a major force in Chilean politics now. With some degree of merit, Jewish groups are getting disturbed.