Despite the fact that Chile is located more than 8,000 miles away from the Palestinian Territories and Israel, many Chileans have not been oblivious to the continued exchange of makeshift rockets and missiles between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas militants in the Gaza-Israel border.
On Thursday November 15, netizens started circulating a call to attend a march that began in Santiago's Palestinian Stadium and ended at the Israeli Stadium:
@Karina_Aravena_: @DonDatos: En minutos: Comienza la CAMINATA X GAZA desde el Club Palestino (21:00 hrs) #PalestinaLibre RT
@Karina_Aravena_: @DonDatos: In minutes: The WALK FOR GAZA is starting from the Palestinian Club (21:00 hrs) #FreePalestine RT
The march had a small turn out and did not get enough attention from the media. Hence, another protest was called for Saturday, November 17.
The protest was organized by the “Comité Chileno de Solidaridad con Palestina” or Chilean Committee of Solidarity with Palestine (@conpalestina) [es]. On that day, according to CNN Chile (@cnnchile) [es], hundreds of people took to the streets in front of the Israeli Embassy in Santiago, Chile's capital, to protest Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip [es].
Chile's EMOL newspaper reported that only around seven hundred people attended the march [es]. The Israeli ambassador in Chile, David Dadonn, reacted by saying:
Viene gente a manifestarse en contra de la víctima. El hecho de que Israel se defiende en legítima defensa de un hecho de provocación de Hamas para asegurar la vida de los ciudadanos no está siendo tomando en consideración. La mayoría de las personas en esta manifestación no conoce la situación real, en el terreno. A los organizadores de esa manifestación, no se les verá nunca frente a la embajada de Siria aunque la represión del Gobierno sirio llegó a 39 mil muertos civiles y de oposición según el conteo oficial de la ONU, pero ellos sí vienen inmediatamente a la de Israel después de 14 muertos palestinos por razón de la provocación de Hamas.
People here come to protest against the victim. That fact that Israel is acting in legitimate defense in reaction to a provocation by Hamas in order to protect the lives of [its] citizens is not being considered. Most of these people in the protest do not know the real situation in the field. One will never see the organizers of this protest in front of the Syrian Embassy, though repression by the Syrian government left 39 thousand civilians and opposition members dead, according to the official count of the UN, but they do come to the Israeli Embassy after 14 palestinians are dead because of the provocation by Hamas.
He prompted many reactions from citizens in social media when he referred to the organizers of the protest in the following terms [es]:
Son enemigos profesionales de Israel que esperan cualquier oportunidad para venir a manifestar su odio al estado de Israel, no importa las circunstancias.
They are professional enemies of Israel that await for any opportunity to come and profess their hatred towards the Israeli state, no matter the circumstances.
During the day, Chileans had been discussing the issue through social media. The Twitter account for Difamadores (@Difamadores) [es], a satirical group of TV presenters who demand political reform, tweeted:
@Difamadores: Te pasaste!! Embajador israelí en Chile por manifestación pro Palestina: “Son enemigos profesionales de Israel”http://www.emol.com/noticias/nacional…
@Difamadores: You crossed the line!! Israeli Ambassador in Chile on pro Palestinian protest: “They are professional enemies of Israel.”http://www.emol.com/noticias/nacional…
Pablo Lira (@pablolirar) [es], a political scientist from Chile's Catholic University, said:
@pablolirar: Ojalá algún día haya ‘paz’ entre Israel y Palestina!
@pablolirar: I hope that one day there will be “peace” between Israel and Palestine!
Cristian Mauricio (@negromartínez) [es] asked people to keep Palestinian children in their thoughts:
@negromartínez: Buenas noches para tod@s y antes de dormir ojalá recordemos a todos los niños que sufren en #Gaza la violencia de Israel, paz para Palestina
@negromartínez: Good night everyone. Before going to bed, I hope we keep all the children suffering in #Gaza from Israel's violence in our thoughts. Peace for Palestine.
Marcelo Hilsenrad (@mhilsenrad) [es] took a more critical view of Hamas:
@mhilsenrad: Mientras el mundo siga apoyando a los terroristas de Hamas, pierde Palestina, Abbas, Israel y todo el planeta
@mhilsenrad: As long as the world continues to support Hamas terrorists, Palestine, Abbas, Israel and the whole planet will loose.
Chilean Senator Francisco Chahuán (@chahuan) [es], a center-right politician and a Palestinian descendant himself, said:
@chahuan: La paz en Palestina e Israel implica que nedie tiene derecho a atacar descaradamente a poblacion civil. Reconocer que hay q agotar dialogo
@chahuan: Peace in Palestine and Israel means that no one has the right to shamelessly attack the civilian population. Recognize that we must exhaust dialogue.
In a similar light, far-right politician Ivan Moreira (@ivanmoreirab) [es] had been using Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with the current government's reaction to the crisis in Gaza. He complained:
@ivanmoreirab: Declaración Cancilleria x ataques y muerte d Israel a Palestina,lamentablemente Teoría Empate,tibia no me parece.Tan corta bastaba 1 Twitter
@ivanmoreirab: Statement by the Foreign Ministry for attacks and deaths [brought upon] Palestine by Israel. Sadly a draw's theory, lukewarm, I don't like it. It was enough with one tweet.
He received many responses. Alvaro Sandoval (@asandovalu) [es] said:
@asandovalu: @ivanmoreirab toda la razon… tipico de pais timorato… #fuerzapalestina
@asandovalu: @ivanmoreirab you are absolutely right… typical of a shy country… #strengthpalestine
Rolando Loi (@RolandoLoi) [es] responded:
@RolandoLoi: @ivanmoreirab ¿Que quiere que haga Israel? Hamas no quiere “2 estados para 2 pueblos” quieren 1 estado Islámico EN VEZ de Israel.
@RolandoLoi: @ivanmoreirab What do you want Israel to do? Hamas does not want “2 states for 2 peoples”. They want 1 Islamic state INSTEAD of Israel.
Moreira, the politician, replied:
@ivanmoreirab: @RolandoLoi Yo Proclamo La Paz,de dos Estados que coexistan con delimitación de Fronteras,sin muros,sin ocupación,Palestina Libre!!!
@ivanmoreirab: @RolandoLoi I proclaim Peace between two states that coexist with demarcated frontiers, without walls, without occupation, a Free Palestine!!!
Chile, despite being so far away from Israel and Palestine, is home to around 350,000 ethnic Palestinians, which makes it the country with the largest group of ethnic Palestinians living outside of the Arab World [es]. Chile's Palestinian community in Chile is mostly comprised of Christians and is the result of a century of immigration. Today, they are present in all spheres of Chilean society.
The first waves of Palestinian immigration to Chile occurred early in the 20th century. Because Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, most Palestinian immigrants arrived with Turkish papers, which led to Chileans mistakenly calling them “turcos” (turks in Spanish). In 2008, under a United Nations agreement, the Chilean Government of Michelle Bachelet received a group of Palestinian refugees that had been living in Syria.