Palestinian Chilean in the Running for Presidency--an Ardent Pro-Palestinian, Anti-Zionist
By John Mason / Arab America Contributing Writer
Daniel Jadue would not be the first Palestinian to head a Latin American government if he were to win Chile’s presidential election. He would be following in the footsteps of Carlos Facussé (Honduras, 1998-2002), Antonio Saca (El Salvador, 2004-2009) and Nayeb Bukele (El Salvador, 2019-present). However, he would be different from these other heads of state in that he is decidedly pro-Palestinian and thus anti-Zionist. These labels do not make him an anti-Semite, however, as some Jewish organizations have averred.
Daniel Jadue Supports Leftist Leaning Politics, Including Strong Ties to Palestine
Daniel Jadue is a first-generation Palestinian Chilean who has risen to political eminence in a country for its opposing political philosophies. There’s Pinochet, a dictator who ruled by terror in Chile, then Allende, a socialist and Latin America’s first Marxist to be elected president in a liberal democracy. Jadue is a communist who is mayor of a municipality of Chile’s capital Santiago, called Recoleta. He traces his roots to the West Bank town of Bait Jala and since age 11 he has actively participated in the Palestinian cause.
Complicating his family life is the fact that Jadue’s father was a follower of Pinochet. The father left home early in Daniel’s life but later tried to make his son into a fellow follower. However, Daniel stuck with his mother’s working-class upbringing. This meant he would subsequently move into the politics of Palestinian liberation and communism.
From Chile, where a half-million Palestinians live, Jadue joined the General Union of Palestinians Students. His love of Palestinian traditions is represented in his leadership of a dabke troop. Dabke is a native Levantine dance, including a form of line dancing, performed at weddings and other joyous events. He showed photographs of his troupe to a reporter for Mondoweiss, who describes Jadue “dancing to the beat of a culture that resonates in his heart.”
Jadue further exclaimed to the reporter, “To be Palestinian is not to eat Palestinian food and to dance the dabke,” he says crisply. “I danced dabke for twenty years. I was a teacher of dabke. But that is not enough. If you are Palestinian, but if you don’t know which side of the wall you are on, then you are not Palestinian.” The Wall of course is the one built by the Israelis as well as a one implanted in the consciousness of Palestinians in the occupied territories and those in exile. The reporter quoted Jadue, saying “You cannot be for human rights outside Palestine and against human rights for the Palestinians.”
Jadue’s Strong Candidacy for Chile’s Presidency brings Accusations of Anti-Semitism
Jadue has actively supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which essentially bans products made by Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. For that sin, he has been added to the Simon Wisenthal Center’s “Top Ten Global Anti-Semitic Incidents.” However, it’s not that Jadue supports BDS, it’s because of the fact that he might just win the 2021 Presidential election in Chile, which the Rabbis found “shocking.”
Asked about the anti-Semitics accusation, Jadue said, “I get along very well with Jews; I have some problems with Zionists. There is nothing in my history to suggest anything like antisemitism, I am for human rights. But for human rights that includes the rights of the Palestinians.” Jadue believes the Zionists will use the BDS criticism to label him as an anti-Semite. The attacks against him began only as his candidacy for the presidency crystallized.
Jadue’s popularity in Chile seems unlikely to be overturned by accusations of antisemitism. In addition to the half-million Palestinians living in Chile, purportedly the largest Arab population living outside the Middle East (including the Arab world and Israel)—not all of whom he has in his pocket—he is very popular with his constituents. He has a reputation for managing a government that places people over profits, including a public pharmacy program that has slashed drug prices dramatically. This was especially important during the Covid pandemic.
The election is by no means a pushover for Jadue, though one poll shows that he would win the presidency in a runoff. TelSur reported that a runoff might be the eventual result of the presidential election.
What a Jadue Win might mean for Chile and for Palestinians
His “people’s pharmacy” in the Recoleta commune when he was mayor is a portent of how Jadue’s governance of Chile may unfold. This popular concept has already spread to more than 150 municipalities and Jadue has expanded the idea to eyeglasses for the people through “Popular Optical,” for housing via “Popular Real Estate,” books and records, and education via “Open University.”
Not unlike certain tendencies in the U.S. following the election of President Biden, Jadue has proposed to raise taxes on the wealthy as a “moral imperative.” In a report covered in Wikipedia, Jadue stated that “we need a country that ensures a decent life, it cannot be that families have to go into debt to be able to eat.” While he feels that the private sector will continue to have a role in the Chilean economy, he also feels there is a clear imperative for state policy to steer the country’s economic prosperity.
On the Palestinian front, in response to the Simon Wisenthal Center’s “Top Ten Global Anti-Semitic Incidents” mentioned earlier, a group of Jewish professors and organizations, including the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, made their point clear about Jadue’s anti-Zionist sentiments, proclaiming that “It is inconceivable that critique towards the State of Israel, which has created a reality of apartheid in the occupied territory, be understood as a form of antisemitism”.
“Daniel Jadue is the Palestinian candidate for Chile’s presidency,” Mondoweiss, 6/8/2021
“Chile: Poll Shows Daniel Jadue Would Win Presidency in Runoff,” TelSur, 6/10/2021
“Daniel Jadue,” Wikipedia, 2021
John Mason, PhD., who focuses on Arab culture, society, and history, is the author of LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017. He did fieldwork in an east Libyan Saharan oasis and has taught at the University of Libya-Benghazi, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and the American University in Cairo. John served with the United Nations as an advisor in Tripoli, Libya, and consulted extensively on socioeconomic and political development for USAID, the UN, and the World Bank in 65 countries.
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