Thursday, January 13, 2011

Latin America and Palestinian state

Regarding Latin American recognition of the Palestinian state, I have tended to believe that there is little domestic resistance.  The Middle East is not very relevant to Latin American politics, and Jewish populations--which we would reasonably expect to be the most vocally opposed--are relatively small in most (though not all) countries.  Along these lines, I got an email from William Girard, a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz who has done fieldwork in Honduras.  With his permission, I copy the following:

My research focuses on Pentecostal politics in Copán Ruinas, Honduras.  I was carrying out my fieldwork in Copán when the coup happened, so the bulk of my dissertation examines Pentecostal responses to the coup and its aftermath.  One of the focuses of my research is a set of doctrines that many Fundamentalist and Pentecostal throughout the hemisphere hold called "Christian Zionism."  The most important aspect of these doctrines for my research is the view that Jews remain the chosen people of God and, as such, receive Divine blessings. These Christians pay close attention to events in Israel, and have an enormous enthusiasm for that country. In sharp contrast, they view Arabs, and particularly Palestinians with a great deal of antipathy, regarding them as continually jealous of the blessings that Jews are said to receive.  While, as I mentioned, these views are fairly common among Fundamentalists and Pentecostals throughout the Hemisphere, they take on a particular character in Honduras, where Palestinians ("Turcos") play such a large role in the national economy (as I understand they do in Chile).  
I've been following your posts on L.A. governments recognizing a Palestinian state, and I have to imagine that the Pentecostal citizens of these countries are deeply opposed to this.  As I'm sure you know, the Protestant population in many L.A. countries is fairly large (around 15% in both Chile and Brazil).  While certainly not all of them would be Christian Zionists, I would think that the majority would be, and, hence, view the recognition of a Palestinian state with great alarm.

So there could well be more opposition than I would've argued, from Protestants, assuming further that a sizable number attach enough salience to it.  From a political perspective, the big question is whether that opposition translates into political pressure.


Jan-Albert Hootsen 4:33 PM  

Interesting post, and as far as I can tell here in Mexico, Girard's observations are correct. I've spoken to a lot of pentecostal splinter movements over the last years, and they have a very strict opinion on a Palestinian state: no go. I'm not sure though whether it's because of some sort of ideological Christian zionism, or rather a fear of Islam.

A. Jay Adler 1:49 PM  

It is important, though, not to conflate outright opposition to a Palestinian state (a "no go") with questioning within the complex dynamics of Israel-Palestine the purpose and consequences of "recognizing," outside of a negotiated settlement, a state that does not yet exist.

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