Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, Thursday called on a visiting delegation of Palestinian business and civil society leaders from Chile to maintain a link to Palestine and to engage in a joint discourse and projects with Palestine.I think when they say "candid" they really mean "canned."
“In light of Israeli efforts to eradicate the Palestinian identity and erase our strong connection to the land, history and culture, I am extremely encouraged by Palestinian expatriates, exiles and refugees who return to their homeland and are ready to invest in Palestine in a variety of ways,” Ashrawi told the delegation at her PLO office in Ramallah.
“We are not ready to disappear or abandon our rights,” she said. “By returning to Palestine and maintaining your links to the homeland, you are reaffirming the Palestinian connection to the land and our right to exist in freedom and in dignity.”
Ashrawi led a candid discussion on Israel’s unilateral violations of international law and Palestinian rights and its systematic efforts to destroy the chances for peace and stability.
Chile has a large number of people of Palestinian origin. The vast majority are Christian. Many of them arrived before anyone ever referred to them as "Palestinian" in the 19th century; the Chileans referred to them as "turcos" (Turks) because they came from the Ottoman empire. The 19th century immigrants didn't refer to themselves as Palestinian either; they identified as coming from their hometowns (Beit Jala, Bei Sahour, Bethlehem) or as Syrians or simply Arabs.
Because they are full citizens of Chile, and happy to be there, no one wants to talk about them because they obscure the narrative of a stateless diaspora Palestinian Arab community. Articles about them might encourage Palestinians to move to Chile, lose their stateless status and become no longer available as pawns and cannon fodder, which seems to be the preferred type of Palestinian to the Arab world and to their own leaders.
What is striking is that there are ten times as many Christians of Palestinian origin in Chile than there are under PA rule. There are only 50,000 Christians in the PA compared to nearly 500,000 Christians of Palestinian origin in Chile.
Israel's Christian population also dwarfs that of the Palestinian Authority, with about 150,000 Christians there, most Arab.
Most of the Christians under Arab rule have fled over the decades - from Palestinian Arab rule, from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.
The numbers show to a remarkable degree how Christians have been forced to leave Arab areas of Palestine because of Muslim persecution, a story that is also swept under the rug in favor of the "blame Israel for everything" narrative that the Palestinian leadership has so successfully and single-mindedly pushed.
No one wants to move from Chile to "Palestine." But Chile would be an obvious destination for Palestinians, especially Palestinian Christians, who want to start new lives outside the influence of the corrupt Arab leaders who want to keep them miserable - ostensibly for their own good.
If UNRWA was a real refugee agency, Chile would be a top choice for resettling stateless Palestinians.
UPDATE: Mike Conrad tells me that the Palestinian Christians of Chile indeed referred to themselves as "Palestinos" since at least 1920, based on the names of their soccer clubs and social organizations, and distinguished themselves from Lebanese and Syrian immigrants who arrived at the same time.