Palestinians Running the Show...in Chile?
Chile is becoming instructive on what happens when a well coordinated minority can turn a decent republic to its own ends. That minority is the Palestinian community in Chile, and it has completely distorted Chile's foreign policy.
In Chile, they have a saying: "Three things one would definitely find in every city and village: a priest, a policeman and a Palestinian."
Chile's Palestinians go way back, some even to the 19th century. Many are now third- and fourth-generation Chilean, often intermarried with Chile's other ethnic stock: the Spanish, the Basque, the Italians, the Germans, et al. Though small in number, about 3%, they are highly overrepresented in all the professions, as well as in banking, manufacturing, and real estate.
If this sounds like a similar ethnic group in America, it is. Gabriel Zaliasnik, the 2010 head of Chile's Jewish community, said, "The Palestinian community is to Chile what the Jewish community is to the US."
These Palestinians are continuing to wield power in Chile. Now they seem to be paralyzing the government.
Recently, a Palestinian-Chilean BDS activist and former director of the Palestinian Federation of Chile, named Anwar Makhlouf, was denied entrance attempting to visit the Palestinian areas by Israel authorities at the border.
Chilean anti-Israel activist turned away at West Bank border crossing
Head of the Palestinian Federation in Chile barred over alleged efforts to promote boycott of Jewish state
The turning away of Palestinian activists at the border, even at the Allenby Crossing, is rather common. The U.S. government does all but nothing about it when it concerns American citizens. Nor do many other Western governments. What can they do?
Chile, however, regularly issues formal protests over the matter. When did the U.S. last protest when an American was refused entrance to Palestine? This time, the matter went ballistic.
The [Palestine Federation] is calling on Chile to summon its ambassador to Israel – a proposal backed unanimously by the Senate – and to suspend an agreement that allows for visa-free travel between the two countries.
Notice that the Palestinian Federation's recommendation is backed unanimously by the Chilean Senate. That is the sort of clout AIPAC could only hope for.
So let's take a look at Chile. Chile is now a borderline first-world country and a member of the OECD – the only such nation in South America – with a democratic government. Freedom House lists Chile as "Free."
While Chile was once heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, it no longer is so. The country is 15% Protestant, and that figure is increasing, and the Evangelicals aggressively evangelize. Moreover, these Evangelicals tend to be very Zionist. Twenty-five percent of the country is agnostic, non-observant, or atheist. Moreover, while the number of Muslims is increasing, they are still less than 0.1%. Chile is one of the least Muslim countries on the planet.
With a Catholic Church that is weakening, one cannot blame Chile's behavior on Catholicism's historic coolness to Israel. Nor can one blame this on an Islam that is almost nonexistent in Chile. Certainly, the strongly Zionist Evangelicals are not to blame. Logic demands that the blame be placed heavily on the Palestinian community, a thoroughly organized 3% of the population.
Ostensibly, Palestinian-Chileans are Christian, at rates over 99%, split between Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism. Yet one would never know it. Last month:
The Palestinian Federation of Chile warned the Jewish community on Monday not to "play with fire" in a statement regarding Israel's decision to bar the federation's executive director, Anwar Makhlouf, from entering the country last week.
This is strong language. To understand these Palestinian-Chileans, one must understand Orthodox Christianity in the Muslim world. According to the Palestinian Orthodox Christian bishop of the Holy Land, Sebastia Theodosios (Atallah Hanna):
We Christians also say Allahu Akbar. This is an expression of our understanding that the Creator is great. We don't want this phrase to be related to terrorism and crimes.
We refuse to associate these words with massacres and murders.
We speak against using this phrase in this context. Those who do, they insult our religion and our religious values.
Those using these words while taking some unreligious, unspiritual, uncivilized actions are harming the religion.
Allahu Akbar is an expression of our faith.
The Palestinian Christians of Chile are nominally Christian but have been so dhimmized in their theology that they are effectively sympathizers of Islam. These people are steering the ship of state in South America's most democratic and stable country.
Take a look at these Chilean (nominally Christian) websites. If one does not read Spanish, one can add a translator app to his browser. Chrome has an excellent app. The translations are not perfect, but they are understandable.
Federation of Arab Societies in Chile
I am Palestinian Campaign/Palestinian Federation
General Union of Palestinian Students – Chile
ARAB TV (Yes, these people have their own network. Look at this recent article.)
Palestinian (Arabic) TV knows this.
There is absolutely nothing like this in the USA. Here, there is virulent anti-Israelism in powerless groups or in academia, but in Chile, such groups have real access to power, and they control the culture and, often, the churches.
Chile, in 1940, took in Jewish refugees when no one else would. What happened? Certainly Saudi and Iranian money and media had an effect. But none of this could have been so effective in Chile without Palestinian-Chilean support.
The most democratic country in South America, a leader on the continent, has had its foreign policy seized by a dhimmified form of neutered Christianity. This group shouts down the influence of the larger Evangelical community and has formerly requested that the Evangelical community stop supporting Israel and seems to drown out the far more moderate but smaller Lebanese community.
Ethnic groups have influence in America, but not at this level. Jewish groups do influence American policy, but they do not override the majority opinion.
This is both fascinating and horrifying to watch.
Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago. He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.