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Terrorists in Latin America and Canada
Aldo Musacchio writes: "The fact that Argentina might have some radical Muslim groups is someting that that has to be explored in more detail. But I don't think that is related to the fact that Menem is Arab at all. Actually I don't know why you mention that Lebanese and other Arab groups have resentment to Israel, Would you like a country that has bombed the city(ies) where your family lives or used to live (e.g. Beirut)? Arabs in Latin America have some resentment towards Israel, but that doesn't mean they are organizing terrorist groups (or at least not a great majority of them). Also, I don't think Arabic groups don't like the US as much as you think. There are large groups of Arabs in Latin America that love traveling to the US, you should go to Vegas and see it for yourself.
That the US is paranoid in this moment does not justify vague generalizations about the role of Arab communities in Latin America. I think that to try to make Latin America change its view towards Arabs is very dangerous and it is sincerely too much for the sake of "supporting the US against terrorism." I think as open societies we need to be careful right now about who the bad guys really are, especially because the US is very confused as to who the enemy is. It would be stupid for Latin America to buy [?]wars with internal groups that are very beneficial to our societies and economies. Arabs in Latin America have always been welcomed. In Mexico and Brazil, Arabs run many business and they are very integrated into society. In general there is no discrimination, although they are called "turcos" in Argentina and Brazil, I understand in Argentina there might be radical groups linked to Al Queda, but those are exceptions. Arabs in Latin America tend to be hard working people interested in blending with the society. I myself was part of the Lebanese Club in Mexico, not being Lebanese at all, and I never felt alienated or segregated in any way. Although there is a strong sense of community among Arabs, they do not live separated from the rest of the society. For example, in Mexico the Lebanese Club has a huge celebration of the Dia de la Independencia (of Mexico) on September 16th. In Brazil, the most common food is most likely Arab food. They sell it everywhere, just like tacos in Mexico or Burgers in the US. Arabs, at least in Mexico, don't even have separate schools (like the Jewish community), and they are so blended into society that sometimes you can hardly tell when someone is Arab or of Arabic descent. I don't understand what Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez have to do with Arab groups, if they train guerrillas, they train them with a very different ideology than radical Islamism."
My response: Clearly Aldo has not read all my postings. I am very pro-Lebanese; ask the leading Lebanese intellectual of the Bay Area, Michel Nabti. I have been highly critical of the Israeli treatment of them and of the Palestinians. Most Americans have no idea of the Arab presence in Latin America, about which they know very little. There was no suggestion in the posting that the Arab terrorists are representative of the Arab population in Latin America any more that they are of say the French, but there are dangerous French terrorists. The relationship between racial groups in Latin America is much more subtle that Aldo suggests; much has been written about it. No sane American wants to complicate them. As for the details which Aldo "does not understand", including the reference to Menem, many article have appeared. I recommend a detailed and well-documented one in Insight of November 26.
Ronald Hilton - 12/5/01