Journal of Latin American Studies

Research Article

On the Trail and Trial of a Palestinian Diaspora: Mapping South America in the Arab–Israeli Conflict, 1967–1972

JOHN TOFIK KARAM *

Abstract

Centred around a May 1970 shooting at the Israeli embassy in Asunción, this article traces a chain of actions and reactions that began with Israel's victory in the Six-Day War in June 1967 and ended after the June 1972 verdict of a Paraguayan court regarding two Palestinians. Situated among Israeli officials, Palestinian refugees and Syrian-Lebanese elites, authoritarian Paraguay was not only encompassed by but also accommodated the post-1967 Arab–Israeli conflict, revealing the connection between the ‘areas’ of South America and the Middle East through ideas about relocating Palestinians as well as their actual displacement.

Spanish Abstract

Concentrándose en los disparos contra la embajada israelí en Asunción en mayo de 1970, este artículo rastrea una cadena de acciones y reacciones que empezaron con la victoria israelí en la ‘Guerra de los Seis Días’ en junio de 1967 y terminaron con un veredicto paraguayo en relación a dos palestinos en junio de 1972. Rodeado por las autoridades israelíes, los refugiados palestinos y las élites sírio-libanesas, el Paraguay autoritario logró contener el conflicto árabe-israelí después de 1967, revelando la conexión entre las ‘áreas’ de Sudamérica y el Medio Oriente a través de las ideas acerca de la reubicación de palestinos así como de su verdadero desplazamiento.

Portuguese abstract

Focalizando no tiroteio ocorrido na embaixada israelense em Assunção em maio de 1970, este artigo traça uma sequência de ações e reações que começou com a vitória de Israel na ‘Guerra dos Seis Dias’ em junho de 1967 e terminou após o veredicto da justiça paraguaia sobre dois palestinos em junho de 1972. Cercado por autoridades israelenses, refugiados palestinos e elites sírio-libanesas, o Paraguai autoritário conseguiu conter o conflito árabe-israelense pós-1967, revelando assim as conexões entre as ‘áreas’ da América do Sul e do oriente médio através de idéias sobre o reassentamento de palestinos e sua diáspora real.

Keywords

  • Paraguay;
  • Arab–Israeli conflict;
  • Palestinians;
  • refugees;
  • Stroessner

Spanish keywords

  • Paraguay;
  • conflicto árabe-israelí;
  • palestinos;
  • refugiados;
  • Stroessner

Portuguese keywords

  • Paraguai;
  • conflito árabe-israelense;
  • palestinos;
  • refugiados;
  • Stroessner

John Tofik Karam is associate professor in the Program of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul University. Email: jkaram2@depaul.edu.

Footnotes

*  This article is based on research funded by DePaul University. In Asunción, I am indebted to Rose Palau, Zayda Caballero Rodríguez, Alcides Albariño Barrios and the staff members at the Archivo del Terror, the Biblioteca Nacional del Paraguay and the Archivo del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. I should like to express my deepest gratitude to Paraguayans of Arab origin in Asunción, but I have changed the names of the two Palestinian defendants, their Syrian-Lebanese lawyer and a Syrian immigrant from Mohardi. I also want to thank Uri Rosenheck, who translated a 2004 Ma'ariv article for me, as well as several colleagues and the anonymous JLAS reviewers who commented on earlier versions. All shortcomings are my own.