Chile on Sunday greeted 39 Palestinians from a refugee camp in Syria for permanent resettlement, and local residents turned out to give them a rousing welcome.We discussed a couple of weeks ago how despised the Palestinian Iraqis are in the Arab world and how every Arab nation refuses to let them in.
"Leave your suffering in the past and let Chile be the fountain of your newfound happiness," deputy Interior Secretary Felipe Harboe told the tired newcomers, who spent 40 hours traveling to this farming community north of Santiago.
The Palestinians, 23 of them children, were greeted by an official welcoming committee and many cheering locals who waved Palestinian flags and signs recalling their own Middle Eastern descent from immigrants who arrived when La Calera was founded in the late 19th century.
"Through you we relive the adventure of being an immigrant," La Calera Mayor Roberto Chahuan, the grandchild of Palestinians, told the exhausted refugees who were to be settled in apartment buildings in the town.
After the ceremony, the Palestinian families were escorted to their apartments. Local authorities will provide education, health care and Spanish classes.
The 39 Palestinians are the first of a group of 117 Chile has accepted to resettle under a 2007 program it agreed to with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The remaining refugees accepted in Chile will arrive in two groups in the coming weeks for resettlement in San Felipe, north of Santiago, and two neighborhoods in the capital.
But one of the details in this story also explains why even Palestinian Arabs are less than thrilled with countries like Chile, Canada and Brazil taking them in.
Notice how the mayor is described as a "grandchild of Palestinians," not as a "Palestinian." He may be proud of his heritage but he has no intention of "returning" to the Middle East because his family has built up a real life and identity outside of the "Palestinian" construct.
The entire cornerstone of Palestinian identity is the idea of statelessness and oppression. Take that away, and Palestinian identity will fade - as will the utility of using a large group of Arabs as political pawns to pressure the existence of Israel.
So we see the anomaly of an article that refers to the mayor of La Calera is a "grandchild of Palestinians" yet the Arabs who immigrated, who have not been in Palestine for two generations either, are still called "Palestinian." When they are stuck in the Arab world they are forced to be considered victims - but useful victims. When they move elsewhere and build real lives, their usefulness disappears.
This is why Arab nations will never allow Palestinian Arabs to become citizens. Suffering PalArabs are much more useful.