So moving seamlessly on from the fascinating discussion of nationality EMOL has an interesting special on its site at the moment. It relates the story of 117 Palestinians who have left their homeland and moved to Chile as part of a UN backed program.
Chile's not the only country participating in this program, of course, but what is interesting is that this little country on the far side of the world is actually already home to the largest Palestinian population outside of the Arab world, making up around 5% of the entire Chilean population and numbering roughly 300,000 people. Around 80% of these Palestinians arrived in Chile between 1900 and 1930 and came from mainly Christian towns which now fall under the umbrella of the district of Bethlehem. The vast majority of Palestinians in Chile are Christians so it'll be interesting to see whether the new arrivals-all Muslim- will be able to fit into the community here.
When the Palestinians first arrived in Chile they, like most new arrivals in any fairly homogenous country, were poorly treated and subjected to racism and discrimination. The huge majority of marriages were therefore kept within the community. Over time, however, the Palestinian population started to thrive socially and economically and became fairly well integrated. By the 1970s, over 70% of marriages were with non-Palestinian partners.
So why did they come to Chile in the first place? Well, the main reason is that they were trying to escape the Ottoman Empire, subjugation and conscription. The Turks weren't too keen on other peoples in those days-just ask the Armenians. This was the first and biggest wave of immigration. A second group arrived after the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948 and a third group arrived after the Six Day War in 1967.
Chileans of Palestinian origin now play an important economic and social role in this country and can be found in big business, sport, high level politics and showbiz. There's even a football team called Palestino, founded in 1920 and winning the title twice, in 1955 and 1978.