The Arabs of South America
Most Americans are unaware of this, but there is a massive Arab community in Latin America. Overall, 5% of Latin America is Arab in origin, which corresponds to roughly 25-30 million people. This can vary from a low of 2% in Uruguay to an astounding 9% in Argentina; but still you rarely hear about it, except for the occasional arrest of an al-Qaeda member. There is a good reason for this.
Latin-American Arabs are overwhelmingly Christian; usually they are Syrian Orthodox or Roman Catholic, the older liturgical churches which blend in seamlessly in the area. Those who aren't have often converted to Evangelical Christianity. Islam, though found, is not so common among them. Overall, probably 97% or more of Latin-American Arabs are Christians, though this can vary from country to country.
The reason we rarely hear about these Arabs is because they are, for the most part, Westernized Christians. It was this Christianity which became the instrument of their assimilation and success.
The Arabs in South America tend to be elites. In many ways, their rise has mirrored the success of Jews in the United States, and even surpassed them.
The richest man in the world is a Lebanese-Mexican, Carlos Slim. A president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, was of Syrian origin. Three presidents of Ecuador were of Lebanese origin as well as one president of Colombia, Julio Tubay. A vice president in Uruguay and another in Brazil were Lebanese. At least two Central American presidents were of Palestinian origin, and this list is nowhere near complete. The famous actress Salma Hayek was born a Lebanese-Mexican. Shakira is part-Lebanese, and so on. Dissertations have been written on Latin Arabs, but sadly, few are in English.
The Arabs started arriving in the mid-19th century. Some, such as the Lebanese Maronite Catholics, were fleeing the genocidal assaults of Turkish and Druze Muslims, which would have exterminated them had it not been for French intervention in 1860. Later Maronites would flee PLO attempts at extermination. Others, such as Palestinian-Christians, fled Ottoman Turkish oppression and the military draft, where it was not safe to be a dhimmi in a Muslim Army. Syrian Christians left for similar reasons.
Almost none of this can be blamed on Zionists, whom the current fashion would accuse. The Arab flight started much too early. In the case of Palestinian-Christians, flight from Turkish rule removed a sizeable portion of the Christians out of the Holy Land before the Israeli-Muslim conflict even started. Yes, a few fled in 1948 and 1967, but these are not typical of the demographic.
In Brazil, the Arab presence is so ubiquitous that a Lebanese dish, kibbe, is now found all over Brazil, being sold by street vendors. A fast food restaurant chain called Habib's has 300 outlets all over the country and specializes in Lebanese food, along with basic fare. Arabic food is now considered part of Brazilian. cuisine, much as we Americans have adopted Italian pizza.
In Chile, which received massive Palestinian-Christian immigration, one family, the Yarur family, rose to produce 60% of Chile's textile manufacturing at one point. Palestinian-Christians are now 3% of Chile's population, slightly more than the percentage of Jews in the United States. Another 2% of Chile is either Lebanese or Syrian Christian. Most are now monolingual Spanish-speakers, with many marrying outside their communities into other ethnic groups to finish the melting pot dynamic. The process has gone both ways, and Chile's Syrian Orthodox Church now reports that "[t]here is also an increasing number of non-Arab Chileans who are joining Orthodoxy."
The Arabs are so thoroughly integrated into Chile that a commercial honoring their history ran during Chile's Bicentennial in 2010.
Chile's Palestinians, roughly 450,000-500,000, are the largest population of Christian-Palestinians on the planet, outnumbering their Christian cousins in Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank) by a ratio of 3 to 1. Chilean-Palestinians are over 99% Christian, and they constitute about half the world's Palestinian Christians. Only the Mideast has more Palestinians, but these are mostly Muslim. Chile is the world center of Palestinian Christianity.
So what can we learn from this?
The first thing we can learn is that in contravention of both prejudice and political correctness, Latin-American Arabs are proof that Arabs are not the problem; rather, Islam is. When the Arab is divorced from Islam, he cannot help but succeed; where he remains in Islam, he cannot help but fail. Even in the Mideast, apart from oil wealth, the Muslims are almost always poorer than the Christians. Only the demand for oil sustains them.
Latin America, until recently, was rarely a model of good governance; yet the Latin Arab prospered and excelled. He had native talent. During this same period, poverty was the norm in the Arab world outside a few oil plutocracies. The only difference between the two was religious affiliation, and this cannot be ignored. Nor is this racial prejudice, since we are talking about the same people. The only distinguishing feature is that Latin America's Arabs are overwhelmingly Christian.
The success of the Irish, Sicilians, and Jews in America demonstrated that their impoverished condition in Europe was the result of oppression, and not some endemic racial or religious characteristic. The distinguishing feature was liberty vs. tyranny.
But Latin-American governments were often as corrupt as any Arab one. The only distinguishing feature between successful Latin Arabs and Old-World Arabs was religion, and we are forced to conclude that Islam is the source of Arab backwardness.
This is obvious, yet it remains unspoken.
Christianity, until the 7th century, was the dominant religion among the Arabs. Over time, it has dropped off. Today, 90% of Syrians and Palestinians are Muslims. Lebanon, which used to be Christian, is now majority-Muslim, with the Christians fleeing. It has been offered that the Christians have a lower birth rate, but the fact is that most just fled. Were the Syrian Orthodox and the Maronites in Latin America reintroduced to the Mideast, Syria and Lebanon would be majority-Christian; but no sane Latin Arab would want to return, especially now that stable democracy is the norm in their Latin countries.
Twenty-five to thirty million highly successful Latin-Arabs who prospered under a range of governments which ran the gamut from tyranny to liberty, from European Argentina to Mestizo Mexico, prove that the only thing which can hold an Arab back is Islam.
However, something is arising which is troubling.
Iranian and Islamic oil money has waltzed in to South America on a campaign of Islamization and anti-Zionism. Being overwhelmingly Christian, one would expect Latin Arabs to be immune to Islamic persuasion, and every indication is that they are. Yet, though the Saudis and Iranians can't convert many of these Latin-Arabs to Islam, they have successfully converted a number of them to a virulent anti-Zionism.
The Saudis have financed the building of the King Fahd Mosque in Buenos Aires, even though only roughly 1% of Argentina is Muslim, and the vast majority of those are non-practicing, according to the Argentine academics Pedro Brieger and Enrique Herszkowich, who wrote, "a realistic guess for the Muslim population of Buenos Aires might be around 4,500, far fewer than the number projected by some Muslim officials."
From this mosque, the Islamic Center of the Republic of Argentina (CIRA) has already been instrumental in the cancelation of a popular secular Arab-Argentine program to make way for a Saudi-financed Muslim show called El cálamo y su mensaje (The Quill and Its Message). The show is now on Argentine Public TV, even though the Arab-Argentine community wanted no part of it and protested the cancelation.
The Iranians have now set up HispanTV, an Iranian propaganda network aimed at Latin America. Iran's English equivalent, PressTV, was banned from broadcasting to Britain recently because of it propaganda excesses. But HispanTV marches on.
We should not be surprised to find that Chile's Palestinian community is starting to be radicalized against Israel, and in favor of an increasingly Islamic Palestinian cause. Though their ancestors fled Islam, they have now become the Western Christian face of pro-Palestinian propaganda in South America.
What has to be remembered is that in Latin America, while there are Jewish communities, particularly in Argentina, they have nowhere near the clout of AIPAC or the ADL, and so this Islamic propaganda can float in uncontested -- and, in Venezuela's case, with the support of the Chávez government. If one thinks Zionist groups have too much power in America, one should examine South America, where Arab lies go unaddressed, and see the difference. It is quite ugly.
The West has to fight for Latin America. The Islamic groups came in almost unopposed to propagandize the area. While the USA and Israel slept, the propaganda machine marched in. We cannot lay blame for all of this on Hugo Chávez and his partnership with Iran. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and we ignored the arena. The Muslims knew they had kinsmen in the West -- albeit infidels -- and sent out feelers. Al-Jazeera regularly reports on South American news. Why don't our networks?
The USA, and Israel, must march in with a concerted effort. They must remind the Latin Arabs why they fled to South America in the first place. They must be as politically incorrect about it as the Muslims are. The USA must dispense with religious neutrality on this issue, or we will lose.
Right now, Chile's Palestinians are an elite, and they should be disabused of their anti-Zionism. They have the potential of greatly helping or hurting Israel, as they are the standard-bearers of the Palestinian cause in South America. Some hard bargaining should be attempted.
Jewish organizations might consider sponsoring some Christians in the contested areas to emigrate to Chile. These Christians are stuck in a nasty situation, between two camps to which they do not belong. Whichever side prevails in the Holy Land, the Christians have to know they will be a minority. Prosperity in Chile would be an attractive alternative.
Brazil has surpassed Britain in economic power. Chile is now first-world. Argentina is borderline first-world. South America is rising. It should not be left to Muslim propaganda to determine its worldview.
Mercifully, the history of the Arabs in South America is helpful. They need only be reminded of why they are in South America in the first place.
As for the West, we should be apprised that South America is living proof that Islam is what is destroying the Arabs. In South America, the Arabs, freed from Islam, have risen to an enviable elite status. This has to be trumpeted to the world ... and to the Islamic Ummah.
South America presents the world with a different view of what it means to be Arab: successful, rich, elite, and respected. All of this springs from their Christianity. There is no reason why the Muslim world should not be told the reason for their own failures, and the solution: Christianity.
There is one shining spot in all of this. There is a massive Evangelical revival going on in South America. It has even swept up some Arab Christians. Brazil is about ready to flip from Catholicism. Chile is now 15% Evangelical. Even Catholic Argentina is being affected. These Evangelicals are very pro-Israel, and Israel is starting to take notice, albeit far too late.
The author goes by the pen name of Mike Konrad. He is American -- not Hispanic, Latin, or Jewish -- and runs a website latinarabia.com, where he examines this Latin-Arab subculture. The website is in preliminary stages. He first has to improve his Spanish.