Club Sportivo Palestina and Balfour Declaration: When Everything Starts

by Carlos Medina Lahsen
Original article (Spanish):


This article aims to elucidate how Club Sportivo Palestina originated, as possibly one of the first sports and social institutions of the Palestinian community in Chile, and how it became in its short existence an organization. To understand its development, it is necessary to delve into the context that allowed the arrival of Palestinians to Chile and the importance of the Balfour Declaration as a fundamental milestone that marks the development of both the Palestinians in their homeland, and as well as the Palestinian community in Chile.

Context in Chile

At the beginning of the 20th century, a considerable number of Palestinians had arrived in Chile, driven by the poverty situation in the area, but mainly young Palestinian Christians were sent to Chile because their families feared that they would be called up for military service according to the policies of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, in the middle of the First World War. Most of them came from small towns near Jerusalem, such as Beit Jala, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour. Already in 1907, the Chilean census already counted 1,729 foreign citizens who were indicated as Turks, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and possibly Armenians. (1)

Another factor that drove the arrival of these immigrants was the ‘word of mouth’ of relatives and friends who returned to Palestine, who spoke of greater opportunities and advantages that Chile offered, either because of the climate and it was known that there would already be some family member who could help them when they reached their destination.

The most powerful skill these immigrants had was a powerful entrepreneurial spirit that stood out in spite of the fact they had no state aid or subsidies of any kind. Those who did not have a large capital to start with, borrowed some money from some other immigrant Arab friend and worked as street vendors. These immigrants were also called ‘missing’. This was seen much more in localities a bit remote from the big cities, where they supplied the stores, taking advantage of the situation at the beginning of the century, when 60% of the population lived in rural areas. Those who could raise a larger capital could emerge by having a store, which was usually the house where the whole family lived. It was also very usual to incorporate another member of the family, whom he sent as a ‘missing’ to cities near the store in order to achieve something like a commercial network to distribute merchandise. (2)

In any case, in those years it was not easy for this group of immigrants to integrate into Chilean society, because they were dealing with discrimination towards them. They were called ‘Turks’, because they arrived with an Ottoman Turkish passport, but they soon discovered after a while that label had a negative connotation in the minds of Chileans. It was also not easy for the children of these immigrants. A direct consequence of their parents’ desire for their children to integrate into Chilean society as quickly as possible was for them to learn Spanish to the detriment of keeping Arabic as a spoken language at least among family. (3)

In the early years, due to the need for financial stability and to meet basic needs, Palestinian immigrants in Chile had social and religious organizations, and not much of political origin. Proof of this is that one of the first institutions founded was the Orthodox Church of St. George in 1918, led by Monsignor Elias Dib. That first Orthodox church, with the same name as the church that exists in Beit Yala, served as both a religious and social center for the Palestinian community. (4)

The first media also emerged, such as Al-Murched in 1912 (5), as well as Juventud Ilustrada, a newspaper created in September 1917 and directed by Salomón Ahués, which became the medium where Club Sportivo Palestina carried out their official publications. (6)

At the same time, the Zionist movement had plans to tour South America. In fact, in April 1917 Dr. Baer Epstein, born in Vilna (now Lithuania), delegate of the Jewish National Fund in the United States, arrived in Argentina – where there was a considerable Jewish community of 100,000 people – with the ‘object to disseminate the ideals that the Zionists pursue’ (7), and months later, in February 1918, a great Zionist congress was already taking place in Buenos Aires, where Dr. Lubeschutz proclaimed phrases such as “Palestine must return to its rightful owners.”, “The millennial dream finally becomes reality” and “Great Britain has opened wide the doors of Palestine”. (8)

In the meantime, the British and pro-Zionist propaganda that could be seen as early as December 1917 draws attention to an especially a long article from the Chilean Newspaper La Nación, without an author, entitled “The Re-conquest of Jerusalem. For whom will the holy city be? Palestine, emphasizing that “it can be anticipated that Christians of all religions will unite their influences to prevent the Holy City from passing from the hands of the Mohammedans to that of the Jews, and that the Israelites will fight on this occasion the great battle to crown the tenacious work of centuries aimed at the reestablishment of the Jewish Kingdom in Palestine itself” (9). All this without mentioning its current inhabitants, the native Palestinians, who had lived in the area for centuries.

In May 1918, Dr. Baer Epstein arrived at Santiago on an important tour of a month and a half (10), where he gave at least five conferences in Yiddish where he delved into the origins of Zionism, the “aspirations of the Hebrew people”, and among other things, organized a Zionist federation in Chile, which allowed it to raise funds to promote the Zionist cause. (11)

Among the members of the Palestinian community who were fairly aware of what was happening in Palestine, the Palestine Union Center of Chilean stands out, sending on July 4th, 1918 a letter signed by Salvador Selman -president of the institution-, to the US ambassador to Chile, on the occasion of the anniversary of the independence of that country, and also to thank President Woodrow Wilson for the guarantees accorded to them inspired in the sense of self-determination of the people. (12) Also in October of that same year, the greeting of British General Edmund Allenby to the Palestinian community in Chile drew attention: “Please express to the Palestinian Social Circle in Santiago, my thanks and those of the army under my command, for the kind congratulations from the Christian community in Chile and for their greetings”. (13)

One of the direct consequences of the Balfour Declaration, which we will discuss later in greater depth, was that since 1918, the Zionists in Chile began to celebrate November 2 as an ‘Israelite anniversary’ (14), as if it were an independence of a new country, again without considering that the Zionist Jews at that time were a minority within Palestine. By that date, they usually held a music-cultural evening with a great doctrinal component, where Chilean authorities and also diplomats were invited.

Meanwhile, the same November 2nd, 1918, the Chilean Palestinian Community Committee, through Monsignor Dib, sent a cablegram to the Inter-Allied Congress of Versailles (15), through the French Foreign Minister Stephen Pichon already the Ministers of Great Britain, the United States, Italy, and the Pope:

“The Palestinians residing in Chile request your powerful contest to found the autonomy of the Syrian People against the Israeli claims that would make Palestine the property of a social and religious minority, leaving subordinate to the Syrian People, whose domain rights are previous, whose culture and organization are proven and have a religious creed similar to that of Western Europe. In the name of democratic principles upheld by President Wilson and the Entente, in the name of Christian justice principles, we invoke your support to create an Independent Government in Palestine, based on our people. We send separate memorial founding petition. On behalf of eight thousand Palestinians in Chile”.

–The Committee: Honorary President Archbishop Dib; President: Jorge Hirmas; Secretary: Issa Daccarett.

Then, probably as a reaction to what was happening, there was a certain reaction from the Palestinian community to raise awareness in their own community, which organized certain activities in conjunction with Club Sportivo Palestina:

On the 10th of that same month, the youth of the Palestinian community met in the social premises of Club Sportivo Palestina in order to: “elect a committee for the organization of an anti-Israelite campaign, which after a long debate remained composed as follows: President, Mr. Abraham Ahués S.; Secretary, Mr. Miguel Chejade; Treasurer, Mr. Gabriel Musalem and Directors, Messrs. Salomón Ahués A. and Basilio Marzuca” (16). Three days later a party was organized to commemorate the armistice that would end the First World War signed on November 11th, 1918, to be held at the club’s social premises. It must be taken into consideration that Palestine was one of the war scenes between the British and the Ottoman Turks, which meant a relief for the population (16). On November 17th, a literary-musical event was organized in the club’s social premises, with the aim of officially presenting the committee described above (17). On December 9th, commemorative activities were held on the occasion of the first anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem by the British (18), such as: general closure of Palestinian trade; a banquet given to the Diplomatic Corps of the Entente at the Savoy Hotel by the Palestinian Center; and a matinee at 1 pm at Club Sportivo Palestino social venue, offered to the community, club members and friendly societies.

At November 16th, a cable sent by the Palestinian Community of Chile to President Poincaré of France, Woodrow Wilson of the United States and King George V (of the United Kingdom) (19):

“A son Excellence, Raimond Poincaré, Presidente.- Paris-
Les residents Palestiniens au Chili present leurs hommages et felicitations a Votre Excellence et a la vaillante armeé el people francais a d’ocassion de la brillante victoire obtenue dans la lute pour la liberté, la justice et les droits des peuples.

Pour la Comité, President Georges Hirmas.- Secretaire Issa Daccarett”.

Mientras tanto, ya en septiembre de 1919, se realiza el ‘Primer Congreso Israelita’ en Chile, el cual contó que delegados de varias sociedades en todo Chile, cuyos objetivos eran, entre otros (20):

Pro-Israelite pro-homeland propaganda in Palestine and pro-Israelite equal rights and freedom in the rest of the world; formulation of protests and claims for the mistreatment of Israelites anywhere in the world; organization of demonstrations and festivals of a national character and the legitimate representation of the entire Israeli community in Chile; the defense by the press and by other legal means of each act that damages the good name of the Israelite Collectivity and the creation of a fund, through voluntary donations and subscriptions, destined for the emigration to Palestine of Israelites who wish to do so and they lack the means”

Also, when the already created Zionist Federation of Chile celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the Balfour declaration as if it were an anniversary of what they considered the ‘Hebrew homeland’, it was not a simple evening where only the Jewish community of Chile was invited, but rather In addition, members of the diplomatic corps were also invited, among them Luis Singer, who had made insertions in the newspaper La Nación to support the Zionist enterprise in Palestine; among others openly supporting the initiative were two Chilean deputies: Victor Celis Maturana and Enrique Burgos Vargas, who gave great speeches that was applauded by those who attended the event (21).

To understand how Club Sportivo Palestina positions itself within the Palestinian community as a center for meetings and social demonstrations, we must go into the process of its formation.

Birth of Club Sportivo Palestina

Some years ago, as a result of the beginning of the investigation for the documentary ‘4 Colores’, some statutes of 1916 (22), were discovered, under the name of Club Sportivo Palestina, which questioned the date of official foundation of the current Club Deportivo Palestino, which was found on August 8th or 20th, 1920.

Image 01: Pages 1st and 2nd about the Statutes from 1916 about ‘Club Sportivo Palestina’

Said statutes, with exact date March 25th, 1916, had various articles that regulated, among other things, the types of partners and their obligations. Also, on the final page there was a series of founding partners and signatories, where some surnames were repeated in the team that played after 1920. There are certain aspects of these statutes that had not been addressed previously:

First, among the signatories, a couple of names appear that are not of Arabic origin. One of them is ‘German Krauss’, who was originally called Herman Krauss, owner of the German Bazaar of Krauss Hermanos, the most important toy store and commercial store in Santiago at the time, a true palace located next to the Cathedral of Santiago, sadly demolished in 1980 to build a mirror tower with offices (23). Second, the motto on the cover ‘Libre, Leal, Laborioso, Lozano’ may have been taken as a model of the same motto devised by Erasmo Arellano, who used it in the 1986 Club Atlético Instituto Nacional’ statutes. (24)

Days after the signing of these statutes, a curious note appeared in the newspaper El Mercurio, written by Armando Venegas, under the section of ‘Sports Notes’ (25):

Sport Notes

“Several natural sportmen from Erzerum (Turkish city, now Russian), have founded a football club, convinced that only this sport will regenerate the Islamist race, today trampled by the Russian steamroller, and have chosen the following directory of the club that they have named with the pilgrim name of Palestina FC:
President, Mr. Antonio Readi
Secretary, Mr. Salomón Ahués A.
Treasurer, Mr. Stéfano Constandil R.
Director, Mr. Jorge Halabi
2 ° Set the monthly fee is $1 national currency.
Young Turks who wish to belong to this new club can contact the secretary, postbox 1666.
Since the Turkish sportmen have formed a football club, it is believed that Sportivo Italia FC will send him a challenge with ‘shoots and beats’ soon “

Image 02: Clipping from El Mercurio Newspaper, March 30th, 1916, page 09

From this somewhat bizarre note several things can be said referring to the place of origin that, according to the author, the team members came:

It is curious that the author refers to ‘Erzurum’, a Turkish city that is located more than 1,300km from the Bethlehem-Beit Jala area, in Palestine, where most of the Palestinian immigrants come from. Although it is true that the author is not wrong in saying that at that time this city was Russian, since the city was the site of one of the key battles of the Caucasus Campaign of World War I between the armies of the Ottoman empires and Russian. The latter resulted in the capture of Erzurum by the Russian army. On the other hand, it is known that in those years there was a massive deportation of Armenians in Erzurum, so it could be deduced that the author confused the Palestinians with the Armenians. Finally, it refers to the ‘Islamist race’, when the vast majority of Palestinian immigrants were from Christian families.

Image 03: Clipping from El Mercurio Newspaper, may 06th, 1917, p. 18.

After this note, it took more than a year for the team to be entered in an official championship. In fact, there were two teams: Club Sportivo Palestina I, which played in the Second Division; and Club Sportivo Palestina II, which played in the Third Division at the Metropolitan Sports League.

On May 6th, these teams appear registered in the following groups, at the Metropolitan Sports League (26):

Second Division
Second series: Buenos Aires I, O’Higgins I, Small Star II, Sportivo Palestina I, Underwood I, and 21 de Mayo I.

Third Division
Fourth series: Captain Scott II, Iris Sporting III, Nuevo Mundo II, and Sportivo Palestina II.

Although apparently, in the case of Club Sportivo Palestina II there was a restructuring of the groups, as they finally played with other teams as we will see below.

The first team debuted against O’Higgins on June 17th, 1917, on the Santiago field, being refereed by Eduardo Huidobro; while the second team debuted against Carioca II, on the field of the Metropolitan League, being refereed by Mr. Moreno. (27)

Image 04: Clipping from El Mercurio Newspaper, june 17th, 1917.

In general, the La Nación newspaper did not show the scores of these games. In reality, it is only recorded in one of the first team’s matches, more specifically a 1-2 loss against Buenos Aires I.In general, the La Nación newspaper did not show the scores of these games. In reality, it is only recorded in one of the first team’s matches, more specifically a 1-2 loss against Buenos Aires I.

Image 05: Rivals and registered matches about Club Sportivo Palestina I in 1917
Matches reference: (28) to (34) in chronological order
Image 06: Rivals and registered matches about Club Sportivo Palestina II in 1917
Matches reference: (35) to (40) in chronological order

According to what was in the press, Club Sportivo Palestina initially had its headquarters at 417 Rio de Janeiro street, but as of mid-1917 it changed its headquarters to the second floor of Esmeralda 732 (41), right in the center from Santiago de Chile.
It can also be seen in the press that, in 1918, Salomón Ahués became president of the club, and Miguel Chejade became secretary. (42)

Image 07: Excerpt from de statutes of 1916, referred to the social establishment.

As of July 1918, the dance branch began to have relevance, which worked in the social premises of Esmeralda, either to organize dance matinees, as well as literary-musical encounters.

Indeed, this branch will show a lot of activity: between July 1918 and July 1919 it had more than 60 activities, where members of other social institutions were also invited. In one of these meetings, Salomón Ahués even held a boxing exhibition with Jorge Tacla. (44)

At the same time, for unknown reasons, the activities of the soccer team registered an appreciable drop, since at least in the press they do not record matches in official championships, although it could well have played friendly matches.
Indirectly, the names of some players of Club Sportivo Palestina football team could be found, at least in 1918:

Constantino ManzurBasilio Sabja
Antonio RiadiJorge J. Halabi
Nuncio SalahJorge Tacla
Salvador Bandek Juan Riady

Precisely in that year, it is recorded that Constantino Manzur was the captain of the team, whose position also had its functions restricted in the statutes; and Basilio Sabja was appointed as vice-captain for that period. (45)

The other named players appear were sanctioned by the club at some point for not showing up to a game at Parque Cousiño. (46)

Image 08: Excerpt from de statutes of 1916, referred to the football team captain.

Reorganization of Club Sportivo Palestina

Ten days after the last activity of the dance section was held, it was reported through the press, at least in both the newspapers El Mercurio and La Nación, that there would be a deep reorganization of the institution.

In the case of El Mercurio, at the beginning of August 1919 the following text was published (48):

Image 09: Clipping from El Mercurio Newspaper, August 03th, 1919.

“The former founders of Club Sportivo Palestina invite all the people who can participate in the definitive reorganization of this institution, the dance section being in fact suppressed, to a meeting that will take place today Sunday at the printing house of the magazine” Illustrated Youth “, Calle de la Bandera 845, office 1, at 10 o’clock in the morning. The steps to obtain legal status are quite advanced and these days it is expected to receive the approval of the Supreme Government.
The sections of football, boxing, athletics, gymnastics, etc. They will be placed in charge of people experienced in the matter ”

Two days later, a text that follows the same line appears in La Nación, in the section ‘Worker Sociability’ (49):

“Club Sportivo Palestina.- Today all the people who wish to join this club and current members are summoned to a general meeting, at Dardignac Street No. 278, at 9 PM, in order to make agreements related to good march of the institution”.

Based on the information published in the newspapers, it would be necessary to ask ourselves about what compelled the need for the reorganization of the institution, and also what would be the reason for suppressing the ‘dance section’, since it was seen that it was the one with the most activity, compared with the other sports branches. This section was fundamental to achieve a level of social integration of the members of the organization and at the same time of the Palestinian community in Chilean society.

After this fact, nothing else will be registered on Club Sportivo Palestina in sports activities, at least by the press. Only one ‘literary-musical’ activity was recorded in August 1920 (50), that was organized in a different place than the usual one on Esmeralda Street. It is still an enigma because in later texts there are no clarifications, there is no communication from the former members, who continued to be active in other institutions in the following years, such as the Palestine Youth Society, among others.

In this way, Club Sportivo Palestina, despite its short existence, was a fundamental institution for the community in Chile, since it not only allowed the Palestinians to have a representative team of their identity within the soccer circle of Santiago , but also allowed them to have an institution that welcomed them socially, creating ties between immigrants who arrived in the country, and organizing acts of political awareness among the community in the face of international events that were taking place, and that were of vital importance to the community and its development.
To understand this last point in greater depth, it is necessary to delve into the international context and the importance of the Balfour Declaration.

International Context

At the same time that these events were taking place, several kilometers from Chile other events were happening that was very politically relevant for the situation that Palestine would face together with its inhabitants.
With the Turkish-Ottoman Empire already weakened, and in the middle of the First World War, Great Britain signs three secret pacts totally incompatible with each other, revealed by the Bolsheviks, and that would define the future of the Middle East. These are:

  • Hussein-McMahon Agreement (1916): Great Britain promises the Arab countries that if they support Great Britain against the Turkish Ottoman Empire in WWI, they will be granted independence
  • Sykes-Picot Accords (1916): Great Britain and France divide Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq into ‘zones of influence’.
  • Balfour Declaration (1917): Great Britain promises Jewish banker Lionel Walter Rothschild a ‘national home’ in Palestine for the Zionist movement.

We will focus on this last agreement, as it is highly relevant for the Palestinians, the native inhabitants of the territory, regardless of their religion: whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews.

The importance of Balfour Declaration

With the help of Chaim Weizman, the leader of the Zionist movement, and the mediation of Lionel Walter Rothschild, Britain’s Foreign Minister Sir Arthur Balfour wrote the following writing to the Zionist movement (51):

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur James Balfour

The Palestinian academic and political analyst Edward Said makes a summary analysis of the event (52):

“The statement (Balfour) was made:

a) By a European power;
b) In relation to a non-European territory;
c) With absolute indifference regarding both the presence and the wishes of the indigenous majority residing in said territory, and
d) Taking the form of a promise about that same territory made to another foreign group, so that that foreign group could, quite literally, make that territory a national home for the Jewish people.”

Going back a few years earlier, one of the reasons that motivated this agreement has to do with the fact of the birth of the Zionist movement within the European Jewish community.
Among various aspects of this movement, political Zionism was the most important. Its greatest exponent was Theodor Herzl, who was a Viennese Jew, influenced by the anti-Semitism situation of the Jews especially in Eastern Europe and also by the text ‘Self-emancipation’ by León Pinsker, he concludes that every non-Jew is a potential anti-Jew , and there is no ‘cure’ for it (53). He comes from a Jewish family, but he is not a practitioner and even has no interest in religious matters.

Faced with such a situation, Herzl decides that Jews need a territory where they could live peacefully, outside the margins of anti-Semitism. The relevant point here is that said plan to obtain such a territory was a classic colonialist plan, where an appropriate territory had to be located with the help of some great power, along with eliminating or expelling the native population, and this is how it is reflected in one of his diaries (54):

“We will have to make the destitute population disappear across the border by seeking employment for them in transit countries, while denying them any employment in our own country.
Both the expropriation process and the elimination of the poor must be carried out in a discreet and circumspect manner”.

In 1896, he published his manifesto ‘The Jewish State’, where he analyzed whether Palestine or Argentine Patagonia could be ‘candidate’ territories to carry out the plan to lead the Jews to carry out colonization (55):

“Argentina is, by nature, one of the richest countries on earth, with an immense surface area, a scarce population and a moderate climate. The Argentine Republic would have the greatest interest in ceding us a part of its territory. The present infiltration of the Jews has naturally displeased them; the radical difference of the new Jewish emigration would have to be explained to Argentina.
Palestine is our unforgettable historic homeland. His name alone would be, to our people, a powerfully moving appeal. If His Majesty the Sultan gave us Palestine, we could commit to regularizing Turkey’s finances. For Europe we would form there a bulwark against Asia; we would be at the service of the outposts of culture against barbarism”.

Also, in 1897 the First Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland, where its objectives were: (56)

  1. The promotion of Jewish settlements of farmers, artisans, merchants in Palestine.
  2. The federation of all Jews into local or general groups, in accordance with the laws of the different countries.
  3. Strengthening Jewish sentiment and consciousness.
  4. Preparatory measures for the achievement of government subsidies necessary for the realization of the Zionist objectives.

Also, it must be considered that the Zionist movement was originated more than anything by Ashkenazi Jews, that is, communities that lived in northeastern Europe, such as Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, among others. Other Jewish communities such as the so-called Sephardic (originating from the Iberian Peninsula) and the so-called Mizrahi (originating from the Middle East) did not have great conflicts nor were they persecuted in the places where they lived.

But actually the territory that Herzl was most excited about was Uganda, in East Africa and part of Kenya, as it was offered by Balfour himself to Chaim Weizman and Herzl in 1903. This territory was no longer on the list when Herzl died, and in the Seventh Zionist Congress they decided to abandon this idea. There was also no formal offer by the Argentine government, so it was decided that the chosen territory would be Palestine. (57)

Also, other points that motivated Great Britain to support the Balfour Declaration were: (58)

  • The exaggerated belief of the British government that, with this agreement, the Russian Jews would pressure their government to have Russia support the allies directly against Germany, forcing it to surrender.
  • The prevailing messiah complex within the British leadership, including Prime Minister David George Lloyd, believing that bringing the Jews to Palestine would hasten the Messiah’s second coming.

There was a big problem with the chosen territory of Palestine: it was already inhabited.
Previously there were groups of Jews who settled in Palestine, driven by initiatives of Jewish millionaires with relative nationalist-philanthropic ideas (59), and in fact there were lands that were sold to them, in the following ways (60):

  1. Absent owners, mostly Lebanese families: Sursuq, Tayyan, Twainy, Mudawar, among others.
  2. The Ottoman government, deceptively through auctions, due to the inability of the Arab peasants to pay their taxes.
  3. Palestinian owners, mostly Christian families: Kassar, Rock, Khoury, Hanna, etc. According to historian Abdul Wahab Kayyali (61), local government officials, both Christian and educated Muslims, were aware of the decision of the Seventh Zionist Congress of 1905, which had already decided that Palestine would be the site of choice for the Zionist project.

In that wave Zionist Jews arrived after the Zionist congress to occupy the land purchased for the establishment of those colonies, who had no interest in interacting with the natives. In many cases, native farmers who realized that the community land where they worked was no longer theirs, were not hired as day laborers by the principle of the ‘conquest of work’, a philosophy of Aaron David Gordon that promoted the idea of ​​only Jewish laborers had to be hired to cultivate the land, and to not directly hire Arab farmers. (62)

Already in 1909 and 1911 the newspapers Al-Karmal from Haifa (63) and Falastin from Jaffa (64), had already appeared, denouncing the Zionist plans in Palestine, demonstrating at the same time the little support of the Ottoman government for the native inhabitants, as well as also the passivity of the ‘notables’, educated locals elected by the Ottoman power, who in addition to having a more direct communication with the empire, also had some leadership over the other Palestinians. Even as early as 1911 the growth of Palestinian opposition to Zionism was more than evident, including in the eyes of the Palestinian correspondent for Ha’olam, the central Zionist body: (65)

“The greatest force in Palestine are the Arabs (…) we completely forget that there are Arabs in Palestine, and we have discovered them recently (…) we never pay attention to them, we never try to befriend them. The greatest enemies of Jewish endeavors are Arab Christian intellectuals”.

After the aforementioned Balfour statement, other no less relevant events occurred:

  • The Ottoman Turkish army ceases to protect Jerusalem on December 8th, 1917, and on December 9 the letter of surrender is delivered, so that two days later, British General Edmund Allenby makes his entry into Jerusalem on foot through the Jaffa Gate.
  • Armistice of Mudros, reached between the Turkish Ottoman Empire and the allies on October 30th, 1918, which put an end to hostilities in the Arab countries, and incidentally forced the empire to surrender, also to abandon the Arab countries, which culminated in a process of dissolution and partition of said empire.
  • Armistice of November 11th, 1918, which ended the fighting of the First World War, which marks victory for the Allies and a harsh defeat for Germany.
  • After the previous armistice, certain young Palestinians from notable families created the Christian-Muslim Association, which could be considered the first political party in Palestine, whose members opened branches throughout the country to promote a national demonstration against the Zionist movement, and establishing the basis for holding the First Arab Congress to be held the following year. (66)
  • 14 points speech by the American president Woodrow Wilson, delivered on January 8th, 1918 before the North American Congress (67). In this speech, Wilson proposes a series of points where he emphasizes the readjustment of borders based on the principle of nationality, self-determination of people and also the idea of ​​creating an association of nations, to guarantee peace between countries. in the future. In fact, from this last initiative, the League of Nations was created later.
  • Paris Peace Conference, started on January 18th, 1919, to agree on the conditions of peace after the First World War, under the direction of the Committee of Four presidents and prime ministers of (Great Britain, France, the United States and Italy), whose leaders had varied positions and objectives. As of June of that year, the following treaties are presented: Treaty of Versailles; Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye; Treaty of Neuilly; Treaty of Trianon and the Treaty of Sèvres. This last treaty is relevant for Palestine, since at the same time that the Turkish Ottoman Empire is stripped of its territories outside Turkey, Mosul, Palestine and Transjordan they pass to British administration.
  • King-Crane Commission: Commission of inquiry proposed by the United States, as a consequence of the Paris Peace Conference, to determine what were the wishes of the population in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. Leading the commission were Henry Churchill King and Charles R. Crane, men with extensive knowledge of the Middle East. They arrived in Jaffa in June 1919, where they toured towns and villages in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan, meeting with representatives of all religious professions and confessions. In total, the commissioners collected 1,963 petitions and 9,379 signatures, representing 3 % of the region’s population, and presented the results in August 1919.

In summary, the findings of the King-Crane Commission were (68):

  1. The Zionists had a strong desire to deprive the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine of practically all their possessions, through various forms of purchase.
  2. Nine-tenths of the non-Jewish population of Palestine was “resolutely against the entire Zionist plan of action”.
  3. Seventy-two percent of the petitions they had received in greater Syria were directed precisely against Zionism.

A su vez, la Comisión King-Crane recomendó:

  1. Greater Syria (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Transjordan) must remain under the mandate of a single power, preferably the United States, and Great Britain as a second option, for a limited period, providing support to the new state.
  2. Limitation of Jewish migration to Palestine.
  3. It is not possible to carry out the content of the Balfour Declaration, as it contradicted the preservation of the ‘civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine’

The results of the King-Crane Commission were only shelved by the Paris Peace Conference, ignoring them, as Great Britain and France were much more interested in concretizing their domination over the new countries, establishing in many cases fictitious borders and without taking into account the opinion of the natives, imposing the Sykes-Picot Accords and the Balfour Declaration in said Conference.


In this research, a historical review was made between two important milestones: The foundation and short life span of Club Sportivo Palestina, possibly the first soccer club that represented the Palestinian community in Chile, and the Balfour Declaration, the first milestone that would strongly mark the history of the Palestinian people. In those days, one of the activities where immigrants could integrate into Chilean society was sport, and soccer was, at the same time, a social and integration activity. Although information about Club Sportivo Palestina was found in the press, the sources of the period are insufficient in terms of results, match reports and players.

It is striking that the team, which had a strong activity between 1916 and 1917, mutated to have more social activities through the “Dance Section” during 1918 and 1919, having a lot of communications between other social centers. This could be explained by the need for political organization of the Palestinian community, which reacted to the events that occurred internationally, for which the team played a fundamental role due to its social nature and not merely sporting. Even the club, driven by the events of the moment, on some occasions was involved in the organization of political activities, giving up its social premises for these purposes.

By other hand, the Zionist movement was already being developed, which was formed within the Ashkenazi Jewish community, who adopted almost as an extremely European legacy the colonization and dehumanization of the natives of the territory that was chosen to carry out said plan. Also a tremendous victory was the signing of the Balfour declaration for the Zionist movement, which gave it a legitimacy never seen before. On the other hand, the Palestinians realized the change, that it meant having strange Europeans as neighbors who refused to live with them, and that they had the backing of a power like Great Britain, who with their agreements would add another sad new chapter of distribution of territories at their convenience.

With respect to what was happening in Chile, the difference in approaches and strategies between both sides was notorious. The Palestinians made an effort to try to adapt to an environment that was not favorable for them, and at the same time make their community aware of what was happening in Palestine, through social activities of Club Sportivo Palestina, for which letters were sent to international organizations; while the Zionists worked hard to carry out a local lobby, always backed by British authorities, which would allow them to be actively validated by the authorities, and also to be relevant in the media.

With respect to what was happening in Chile, the difference in approaches and strategies between both sides was notorious. The Palestinians made an effort to try to adapt to an environment that was not favorable for them, and at the same time make their community aware of what was happening in Palestine, through social activities of Club Sportivo Palestina, for which letters were sent to international organizations; while the Zionists worked hard to carry out a local lobby, always backed by British authorities, which would allow them to be actively validated by the authorities, and also to be relevant in the media.

In conclusion, the letter to the Inter-Allied Congress of Versailles is a clear reflection that there was at least a part of the Palestinian community in Chile that was aware of the events that were happening in Palestine and of what was being plotted in the Treaty of Versailles, and although their intentions were very valid, they were not prepared or organized to confront the Zionist lobby, which always acted with the support of the British government.


(1) ‘The foreign population decreases in Chile. Comparisons of the 1907 and 1920 censuses’. La Nación Newspaper N°1777, November 25th, 1921.
(2) ‘Following the footprint of the Arabs in Chile’ (‘Tras la huella de los árabes en Chile’) (Arancibia/Jara, 2010), p. 63.
(3) ‘Following the footprint of the Arabs in Chile’ (‘Tras la huella de los árabes en Chile’) (Arancibia/Jara, 2010), p. 102-104.
(4) ‘Following the footprint of the Arabs in Chile’ (‘Tras la huella de los árabes en Chile’) (Arancibia/Jara, 2010), p. 92-94.
(5) ‘Following the footprint of the Arabs in Chile’ (‘Tras la huella de los árabes en Chile’) (Arancibia/Jara, 2010), p. 84.
(6) ‘Deportes. Football. Federación Sportiva Nacional’. La Nación Newspaper N°284, October 24th, 1917, p. 11.
(7) ‘Argentina. In honor of the envoy of the Zionist Committee’. La Nación Newspaper N°84, April 7th, 1917.
(8) ‘The Great Zionist Congress of Buenos Aires’. La Nación Newspaper N°408, February 25th, 1918.
(9) ‘The reconquest of Jerusalem. Who will the holy city be for? ‘. La Nación Newspaper N°332, December 11th, 1917.
(10) ‘Arrival of an Israelite lecturer. Dr. Baer Epstein’s propaganda tour. The Hebrew National Fund’. La Nación Newspaper N°482, May 9th, 1918.
(11) ‘Zionist Federation in Chile’. La Nación Newspaper N°529, June 25th, 1918.
(12) ‘Echoes of the anniversary of the United States’. La Nación Newspaper N°541, July 7th, 1918.
(13) ‘Message from General Allenby’. La Nación Newspaper N°634, October 5th, 1918.
(14) ‘Israelite Anniversary’. La Nación Newspaper N°660, November 2nd, 1918.
(15) ‘The Committee of the Palestine Community based in Chile agreed to send the following cablegram to the Inter-Allied Congress of Versailles’. La Nación Newspaper N°660, November 2nd, 1918.
(16) ‘Worker Sociability’. La Nación Newspaper N°671, November 13th, 1918, p. 17.
(17) ‘Worker Sociability’. La Nación Newspaper N°675, November 17th, 1918, p. 19.
(18) ‘Information from abroad. The anniversary of the taking of Jerusalem ‘. La Nación Newspaper N°695, December 9th, 1918, page 7.
(19) ‘Palestinian Community’. La Nación Newspaper N°674, November 16th, 1918, p. 8.
(20) ‘First Israelite Congress in Chile’. La Nación Newspaper N°978, September 18th, 1919, p. 16.
(21) ‘Zionist Federation of Chile. Last night’s evening. ‘ La Nación Newspaper N°1024, November 3rd, 1919, p. 10.
(22) Article N°1: First Statutes
(23) ‘An Unforgivable Sin: The building of the Krauss German Bazaar and its destruction’ (‘Un Pecado Imperdonable: El edificio del Bazar Alemán Krauss y su destrucción’) (Spanish)
(24) ‘Fundadores: Erasmo Arellano y el Club Magallanes’ (‘Founders: Erasmo Arellano and the Magallanes Club’) (Spanish)
(25) El Mercurio Newspaper, March 30th, 1916, p. 09.
(26) El Mercurio Newspaper, May 6th, 1917, p. 18.
(27) El Mercurio Newspaper, June 17th, 1917.
(28) ‘Sports. Football’. La Nación Newspaper N°154, June 16th, 1917, p. 11.
(29) ‘Football. Today’s official meetings. By the Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°190, July 22th, 1917, p. 17.
(30) El Ring Magazine N°10, August 4th, 1917, p. 22.
(31) ‘Sports. Football. By the Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newpaper N°218, August 19th, 1917, p. 14.
(32) ‘Sports. Football. Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°255, September 25th, 1917, p. 14.
(33) ‘Sports. Football. Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°271, August 11th, 1917, p. 10.
(34) ‘Sports. Football. Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°281, August 21th, 1917, p. 15.
(35) ‘Sports. Football. By the Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°162, June 24th, 1917, p. 12.
(36) ‘Football. Today’s official meetings. By the Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°190, July 22th, 1917, p. 17.
(37) ‘Sports. Football. Today’s official meetings. By the Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°214, August 15th, 1917, p. 15.
(38) ‘Sports. Football. Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°271, October 11th, 1917, p. 10.
(39) ‘Sports. Football. Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°281, October 21th, 1917, p. 15.
(40) ‘Sports. Football. Today’s official meetings. By the Metropolitan Sports League’. La Nación Newspaper N°288, October 28th, 1917, p. 15.
(41) ‘Worker Sociability. Philharmonic Centers’. La Nación Newspaper N°544, July 10th, 1918, p. 17.
(42) ‘Worker Sociability. La Universal Society – Lunch in honor of the directory’. La Nación Newspaper N°608, September 11th, 1918, p. 13.
(43) ‘About the social premises’. ‘Statutes of “Club Sportivo Palestina”’, 1916, p. 13.
(44) ‘Worker Sociability. Philharmonic Centers’. La Nación Newspaper N°554, July 20th, 1918, p. 15.
(45) ‘Worker Sociability’. La Nación Newspaper N°630, October 1st, 1918, p. 13.                     
(46) ‘Worker Sociability’. La Nación Newspaper N°633, October 4th, 1918, p. 14.
(47) ‘About the captain’. ‘Club Sportivo Palestina Statutes’, 1916, p. 10.
(48) El Mercurio newspaper, August 3rd, 1919.
(49) ‘Worker Sociability’. La Nación Newspaper N°934, August 5th, 1919, p. 18.
(50) ‘Various institutions. Club Sportivo Palestina. The party of the next Saturday’. La Nación Newspaper N°1320, August 25th, 1920, p. 12.
(51) Original text in English can be found here:
‘The Balfour Declaration: the 67 words that 100 years ago changed the history of the Middle East and led to the creation of the State of Israel’ (spanish):
Also in this book you can find the drafts and corrections of the English text for a full understanding of the original intentions: ‘The Balfour Declaration’ (Leonard Stein, 1961). P. 664. ‘Appendix: Successive drafts and final text of the Balfour Declaration’.
(52) ‘II Palestine and the Liberal West’, excerpted from ‘The Palestinian Question’ (Edward Said, 1979). 2013 edition in Spanish, p. 68.
(53) ‘Auto-Emancipation’, (Leon Pinsker, 1882)
Text in English:
‘I Palestine and the Palestinians’, excerpted from ‘The Palestinian Question’ (Edward Said, 1979). 2013 edition in Spanish, p. 63.
(55) ‘The Jewish State’, (Theodore Herzl, 1896). 2004 Spanish edition.
Full text:
(56) Goals of the First Zionist Congress (in English):
(57) ‘The other places contemplated for a Jewish State before the creation of Israel in Palestinian territory’.
Link (Spanish):
(58) ‘History of Modern Palestine. One Territory, two peoples’, (Ilan Pappe, 2006). Spanish edition of 2007, p. 107.
(59) ‘History of Modern Palestine. One Territory, two peoples’, (Ilan Pappe, 2006). Spanish edition of 2007, p. 69.
(60) ‘Palestine, a Modern History. Zionist colonization, British imperialism and native resistance until 1939’, (Abdul Wahab Kayyali, 1978). 2014 Spanish edition, p. 27.
(61) ‘Palestine, a Modern History. Zionist colonization, British imperialism and native resistance until 1939’, (Abdul Wahab Kayyali, 1978). 2014 Spanish edition, p. 20.
(62) Original text in English:
(63) ‘Palestine, a Modern History. Zionist colonization, British imperialism and native resistance until 1939’, (Abdul Wahab Kayyali, 1978). 2014 Spanish edition, p. 28.
(64) ‘Palestine, a Modern History. Zionist colonization, British imperialism and native resistance until 1939’, (Abdul Wahab Kayyali, 1978). 2014 Spanish edition, p. 33.
(65) ‘Palestine, a Modern History. Zionist colonization, British imperialism and native resistance until 1939’, (Abdul Wahab Kayyali, 1978). 2014 Spanish edition, p. 32.
(66) ‘Palestine, a Modern History. Zionist colonization, British imperialism and native resistance until 1939’, (Abdul Wahab Kayyali, 1978). 2014 Spanish edition, p. 124.
(67) Original text in English:
(68) ‘The Arabs. From the Ottoman Empire to Today ‘(Eugene Rogan, 2009). Spanish edition of 2011, p. 254.
Full report of the King-Crane Commission in charge of Syria, in English: