The South American Experience with Arab Immigration
Unlike Europe which is right now having a difficult time assimilating the Arabs in their midst, South America has an incredibly successful record in assimilating Arabs, who have been arriving on their shores for about 150 years in quite large numbers. There are many reasons for this.
The first of these reasons, and the most important, is that initially starting in the late 19th century, the Arabs which arrived in South America – particularly Argentina, Brazil, and Chile – were primarily Christian; whether Lebanese Maronite Catholic, Melkite Catholic, or Syrian
They arrived at a time when Latin America was monoculturally Latiin Catholic. As in the United States, the emphasis was on assimilation, not multicultural sensitivity. One was expected to Latinize and rather fast. While the immigrants’ odd ways, odd dress, and incomprehensible language made them easy targets for discrimination, their Christian faith made for an easy blend. Lebanese Maronite Catholics were already Roman Catholic, and some of them, thanks to some Jesuit education, had training in French, a Romantic language like Spanish, and were schooled in Western thought. These would have had a much easier time of it.
It also has to be addressed that “racially” many Arabs could be classified as Mediterrean whites; and as such, would have easily blended into a South America that was heavily Spanish, with large immigration rates of Italians and Southern French. Outside of clothing, and language, many of these “white” Arabs could not be so easily distinguished. Yes, some Arabs were darker complected, but so were the mestizo elements of Latin society who carried some native Indian blood. In other words,even though different, the Arabs were not too far removed from South America’s societal norms. The immigrants would have some friction; their children would not, except for odd surnames. Once assimilated, the Arab ethnics soon became middle class and elite; excelling in retail and manufacturing. The Palestinian Yarur family of Chile would come to control 60% of all Chilean textile manufacturing and move on to banking.
To be sure, there were Muslims among them. Estimates range from 15% to 30% depending on the source. South America has generally had some degree of freedom of religion since their days of independence; but while there was no official discrimination against Muslims, there was no support structure either. Most of the Arabs that the Muslims came in with were Christian. Charity or assistance would have been provided through the Christian churches. In time, by conversion or intermarriage, the percentage of Muslims would drop, and those who remained Muslim would become non-practicing. By mid-twentieth century, Argentines were noticing that it was unusual for Muslims among them to not drink wine, in spite of Islamic prohibitions against alcohol.
The numbers are staggering.
Chile is 5% Arab – 800,000 Arabs – half of whom are Christian Palestinians – almost every Arab is Christian. Chile has the largest Christian Palestinian community in the world, surpassing even Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Most of their ancestors arrived before 1930; therefore one can’t blame Zionism. They often fled Turkish or Muslim oppression.
Brazil is 7½% Arabic – 15,000,000 Arabs – with the Arabs being about 90% or more Christian.
Argentina is a breathtakingly 9% Arab – 3.5 Million – with 90% of more of the Arabs being Christian.
Other South American countries have their share of Arabs.
One has to check two or three sources for these. Lebanese Catholics often say they are Phoenician not Arabs in order to distinguish themselves as Western. This creates the odd effect that in some sources, the Lebanese outnumber the Arabs in statistics. Of course, this is absurd; and the numbers have to be adjusted accordingly.
To be sure, many of these are no longer pure Arab. Many are intermarried with Spanish, Italian, native-Indian, and German elements. Most now are monolingual Spanish speakers; and, until recently, did not show much interest in Mid-eastern Politics. These are now second to sixth generation South Americans.
The cultural exchange has not been solely one way. While the Arab-South Americans were Latinized, they also added to the general culture. Arab Dance is very popular in South America, in a matter akin to Celtic Dancing is in America, and for much the same demographic reasons. Latin America has Arabs. We Americans have Celts.
TV shows regularly display Dabka or Bellydance routines; with many of the participants being clearly not Arab. Mario Kirlis has blended Arabic and Latin music in a fusion that is very popular in some circles in Latin America, and has found an audience outside the continent. The Arab Christians have become almost seamlessly Latin. They have forgotten their Arabic tongue, and adopted completely Western modes. Only their cuisine, their music, and their dancing could distinguish them; but that has been picked up outside their communities to the point where it is no longer distinctive; much as Anglo-America has embraced Italian pizza, Mexican salsa, and, in the Southwestern United States, mariachi music.
But the Muslim immigrants among them, though fewer, were and are another matter, and of more interest.
The first thing that pops out when reading these histories is that the Muslims were cut off from support structures. They were on their own. A Muslim aid society did not appear in Chile until the 1920s, 30 plus years after the first major wave of Arab immigration started in the 1890s. In fact, some Arabs had even arrived as early as the 1850s. Sixty percent of all Arabs in Chile – who are 99% Christian – trace ancestry back to before 1930. What this means is that by the time the Muslim Aid Societies had even opened office, the Christians had already laid down the demographic basis for complete Christian numerical supremacy among the Arab groups. By the 1920s, a second generation of Chilean-born Arab Christians had already been started, before the Muslims were even organized.
Even after 1930 the number of Muslims in Chile was small, so much so that whoever came in either intermarried or left.
There was no satellite television to keep them tuned into news from back home. Radio would be a new invention; and the only receivable broadcasts were in Spanish or Portuguese. Travel back home was rare. Once someone arrived, they were often there to stay, and hence assimilation was mandatory. Yearly vacation visits were out of the question. Those who did go back were usually those remained home, and these did not contribute to the South American demographic as a rule.
A good portion of the immigrants were single men who had no choice but to marry outside their community, which in this case would have meant a Christian woman. Islamic obsessive compulsive control over their women forbade the sending of single women. This worked against them in South America, where few Muslim single women abounded. Intermarriage became inevitable in a culture where priests did the marrying, and which meant the children were Christian.
Even those Muslim families which did come over would have produced children whose chief options for marriage were with Christians. By the third generation, assimilation and/or conversion was complete. Those who survived as Muslim would have been non-practicing at this point.
Then there was the culture, a Latin sort of lusty Wild West. By 1910, the tango had crept out of the port brothels of Buenos Aires and was moving into respectability. By the 1940s, Juan Peron was pushing the tango as a national art form. Radio stations were required to play it. Brazil was even more dramatic with its Samba which crept out of black slums in the 1910s. Carnaval in Rio can be a national debauch. At every point, the Muslim would have been presented with a gender mixing on a scale beyond his imagination. To this day, the Argentines dance tango in the streets of Buenos Aires much like street singers do for tips in New York. Rio’s Carnaval has reached levels of celebrated public obscenity. Unlike, America, these displays are public in the streets. They are unavoidable. Islam has no mechanism, apart from violence, for dealing with this; and with Muslims under one percent of the total population in South America, violence was not an option to them. The paradigm collapsed.
Basically the Arab Muslim was a fish out of water. He had nothing to grab hold of in order to preserve his Islamic identity. At best, he could preserve a local Arab ethnic identity, but this was now to be determined by Christian Arabs who were the majority in the New World and who were determined to assimilate. Freed from the dhimmitude of their former lives, these Christian Arabs made haste to maximize their new found equality in South America. His Arab neighbors would have told him to drink wine, learn to tango, and become Christian. South America is glorious. The worm had turned. The Muslim was no longer in the Ummah.
If one lesson emerges, it is that al-Islam cannot long survive in a position devoid of power. Early Christianity thrived and expanded under persecution. Judaism survived in exile. But from the days of Mohammed, Islam has thrived only in conquest and rule. It need not be a majority rule; but Islam cannot survive where it does not control. Divorced from threats of retribution for apostasy, Islam will soon die out.
This is what happened in Latin America.
This is where the European experience might learn something.
The Europeans have allowed Islamic influence to be constantly refreshed by satellite TV and multiculturalism. It has allowed Muslims to concentrate themselves in slum casbahs where localized Islamic majorities can rule and impose a Gallic form of Sharia, even to the gang-raping of women who wear Western dress, euphemistically called ‘tourantes.’ France has not required assimilation; until recently.
Now, given the internet, it is impossible for Europe to block cultural connections to the Old World. AL MANAR, Hizbollah’s TV outlet, is illegal to transmit via cable in the USA; but can easily be found on internet live broadcasts which stream through that very same cable.
So cutting off connections is a dynamic which is no longer available for assimilation.
But the Europeans should be funding Arab language programming with a vision to assimilating the Arabs. Israel should be doing this, too. Not merely catering to the Arab, but seeking to change him. Arabic-speaking Pentecostal Christian preachers should be allowed on the stations encouraging a conversion to Christianity. Sadly, such an effort would be more of an anathema to secular American and French government officials than to many Arabs. But the Latin Americans have no problems putting religious shows on public airwaves; and their governments are just as secular as ours.
The Europeans allow chain migration – where the individual can quickly bring in relatives.
While Latin Americans did not forbid it, the majority of Arab immigrants in the 19th century were single men.
The Europeans should consider individual immigration only, and forbid chain immigration for a period of time after arrival, during which the immigrant would be forced to assimilate and possibly intermarry.
This was also a time in history when Western Civilization was Christian, and not ashamed of saying it.
Freedom of religion was usually respected, but in South America Christianity was first among equals; and the Catholic Church was historically first among Christians.
While one might not like the Pope, his calls for Europe to remember its Christian roots should be well heeded. Even if only ceremonially, a return to some form of Christianity would be in order.
The example of secular Jews is instructive. It can be possible to maintain a religion out of tradition, even when belief is lost. Something has to exist in order to counter Muslim spirituality. Latin Americans still understand this. Most Argentine Catholics are proud Catholics, even if non-practicing. Yet, they still respect Christian traditions, even if they ignore Papal decrees. Better yet might be the example of South America’s Evangelicals, who actually have re-invigorated Christian belief and are the force behind a continental Evangelical Revival which looks to be overtaking Brazil demographically and has made inroads into Chile. These street preachers would not be afraid to try and convert the Muslims in their midst. Europe has forgotten the value of Christianity, even if only in its ceremonial forms.
America, in this respect, with its Bible Belt, is not as weakened. But the centers of power: New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, might as well be secular European.
Some liberal Jews might resist a return to a strongly re-Christianized West; but the alternative, a European Caliphate, is even worse.
South America is still Christian – it is in the midst of a transational Evangelical Revival, which in Brazil is about to supplant a weakened Catholicism. Yet, this resurgent Christianity is not anti-semitic; but, among the Evangelicals, pro-Zionist. Anti-semitism, where it exists, is among the more moribund forms of Christianity. But even in the midst of the emergent shift in Latin Christianity, what is clear is that South America is solidly Christian. The denominations may change, but the Christianity will not.
South America does not conflate secular government with functional atheism, which is a mistake the West has made in general.
It is my contention that for these reasons, a voluntary migration of Judean and Samarian Arabs to South America should be effected, whereby individual Arabs are offered considerable money and residency in a South American nation. It will not be cheap to persuade the Arabs to leave Judea and Samaria, nor to persuade South America to take them. But it is cheaper than nuclear war.
If done wisely, and if they are not concentrated in Islamic casbahs but spread out evenly, even among Arab Christians in the area, South America will convert the Muslim. Now that Brazil and Chile are in the midst of Evangelical Revivals – even very Catholic Argentina has been affected, and is now 10% Evangelical – this would be an opportune time to do it.
Once the Arabs have left Judea and Samaria, the focal point of Arab rage will dissipate. Those refugees left in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt will have only the Arab states to vent their anger on.
This may be a last opportunity before the engines of Armageddon are stoked.
A LIST OF SHORT VIDEOS AND WEBSITES BELOW TO MAKE MY POINT
**** = translated by me from videos I found on the web.
**** ARAB IMMIGRATION TO CHILE
A DIFFERENT SOLUTION – A 40 Min documentary I made myself, where I give numbers and history
about Arabs in SA
(I translated more Spanish video to make my point)
**** ARAB IMMIGRATION TO PERU
A CLIP OF AN AL JAZEERA REPORT WHERE THE PALESTINIANS BLAME OTHER ARABS, NOT THE JEWS
(PS: this guy eventually moved on to Brazil, but he was mad at Arabs for leaving him stuck)
**** TRAILER FOR A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT A RECENT ARRIVAL OF 116 PALESTINIANS TO CHILE
BEIRUT BUENOS AIRES BEIRUT – trailer
The history of an Argentine women was amazed to find out
her great grandfather was a Muslim who went back to Beirut
BALLET OIWN DABKE – ROMINA MALUF -
Thisis how well the Arabs are integrated into Argentina.
Notice, some of the dancers look Germanic.
A NEW TV STATION IN NORTH ARGENTINA CELBRATED THEIR OPENING
WITH ARABIC DABKE DANCES, even though that part of Argentina
is heavily Spanish, German and Italian.
DABKE – SIRIO LIBANESA
DESDE EL ALJIBE (From the Well) – BALLET YABALNA
ARGENTINE TV, this was a show run by Christian Arabs.
THERE IS A STORY TO THIS, which is how I got interested in
this history of Arabs in South America.
PALESTINO 1952-2010 – A Chilean soccer club. The song is a soccer fight song.
ARAB SAO PAOLO
They are planning a rally to support Israel on May 20.
A website against Iran by Latin Evangelicals
I can provide dozens more videos and websites.
The point is: The Arabs have seamlessly assimilated in South America, EXCEPT for the last 20 years when Saudi Money has suddenly started to politicize these Arab ethnic groups.
Even Israeli sources admit that before the first intifada, the Palestinian in Chile never cared about the Mideast. Saudi money has gone in. Most of their ancestors fled Muslim persecutions.