Palestinian Americans

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Palestinian Americans (Arabic: فلسطينيو أمريكا‎), are Americans who are of full or partial Palestinian descent.[citation needed] It is unclear when the first Palestinian immigrants arrived into the United States. Later immigrants came to the country fleeing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian Americans
فلسطينيو أمريكا
Total population
(2009–13 American Community Survey)[1]
Regions with significant populations
North Jersey and Brooklyn; Chicago and Bridgeview, Anaheim and Los Angeles, Jacksonville; and Dearborn, Michigan and Metro Detroit.
American English
Palestinian Arabic
Majority Islam (Sunni)
Christian minorities
(Greek Orthodox), (Catholicism), (Protestantism)
Related ethnic groups
Jordanian Americans, Syrian Americans, Lebanese Americans, Egyptian Americans, Iraqi Americans and other Arab Americans


The New York City Metropolitan Area, including North Jersey and Brooklyn, is home to the largest Palestinian population in the United States.

Early immigrationEdit

The first Palestinians who immigrated to the United States arrived after 1908, when the Ottoman Empire passed a new conscription law mandating Palestinians into the military.[2] These Palestinians were overwhelmingly Christians, and only a minority of them were Muslims. Palestinian immigration began to decline after 1924, with a new law limiting the number of immigrants, as well as the Great Depression, which heavily reduced immigration.

Palestinian exodusEdit

The population in the United States began to increase after World War II. The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the Nakba, and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 caused many Palestinians to immigrate, most as refugees. However, the greatest wave of Palestinian immigration began in 1967 after the Six-Day War, or as Middle Easterners and North Africans call it the June War. This wave of immigrants reached its peak in the 1980s.[citation needed]

Modern historyEdit

After the Immigration and Nationality act of 1965 was enacted, many Palestinians started immigrating again into the United States. Most Palestinians that immigrated to the United States in this period were more educated than the Palestinians that arrived before 1967, to the schools sponsored by the United Nations and the increasing number of universities in the Middle East.[3]

Paterson, New Jersey, within the New York metropolitan area, is home to Little Ramallah,[4][5] the largest concentration of Palestinian Americans. It is also known as Little Istanbul, also home to the largest concentration of Turkish Americans.

U.S citiesEdit

Most Palestinians settled in the areas surrounding Paterson,[4][5] and Bay Ridge,[6] which together make up the New York Metropolitan Area. Many other Palestinians settled in Chicago metropolitan area, while some others settled in the Los Angeles metro area, Metro Detroit, and Jacksonville metro; alongside other Mediterranean communities, including the Lebanese, Syrians, Greeks, Italians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Turks.

Paterson, New Jersey has its southern half of the city nicknamed Little Ramallah, with an Arab American population estimated as high as 20,000 in 2015.[7] It has the most concentrated area of Palestinian Americans in the entire United States.[8] It is also called Little Istanbul, since it also has a growing Turkish American community.

Bay Ridge's Arab community in Brooklyn, New York, is also a significant neighborhood home to an estimated population of 35,000,[9] in which its largest Arab ethnic groups are Palestinians and Yemenis.[6][10] However, it is also home to many other Arab ethnic groups, making Bay Ridge's Arab community also a strongly diverse population.

Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, New York City; also has a strongly diverse Arab community, in which its largest Arab groups are Palestinians and Yemenis. Its strong presence is noticeable from Arab shops to Babel Barber Shop, shown above during the January 2016 snow storm.

Chicago, Illinois is also home to a significant population of Palestinians. There is an estimated population of 85,000 Palestinians in Chicago, and Palestinians form 60% of the Arab community in the area.[11][12] Bridgeview, Illinois, also has a significant population of Palestinians Americans.

According to the 2000 United States Census, there were 72,112 people of Palestinian ancestry living in the United States, increasing to 85,186 by the 2009-2013 American Community Survey. It is difficult to count the numbers of Palestinian Americans, since the United States does not recognize the State of Palestine, and only recognizes "Palestinian" as a nationality.


Despite the fact that many Arabs who immigrated to the United States from the late 19th century being Christians, the majority of Palestinian Americans practice the Sunni sect of Islam, in the Hanafi and Shafi'i madhab.[13] Palestinian Christians mostly belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, with a significant minority in the Latin and Melkite churches. Smaller minorities adhere to various sects of Protestantism.[14]


Besides English, many Palestinian Americans speak Palestinian Arabic. Palestinians who once lived or worked in Israel or the Palestinian territories may have spoken Modern Hebrew as a second language.[13][15] Many Palestinians are fluent in other languages.


In the United States approximately 46% of Palestinians have obtained at least a college degree, compared to 18% of the American population.[16]‹See TfM›[failed verification] The study of culture and the Arabic language is increasingly important among Palestinians, especially in college and graduate school. Thus, some Palestinian or Arab organizations are working to monitor and improve the teaching of Arab history and culture in the American schools.[3] Palestinians, along with Jordanians, have one of the highest education rates in the Middle East.[17]


Among the 90 percent of Palestinian American men and 40 percent of women who are in the labor force, 40 percent and 31 percent, have either professional, technical, or managerial positions. There are also large numbers in sales: 26 percent of men, and 23 percent of women. The self-employment rate for men is a significant 36 percent (only 13 percent for women), compared to 11 percent for non-immigrant men. Of the self-employed, 64 percent are in retail trade, with half owning grocery stores. In terms of income, the mean for Palestinian families in 1979 was $25,400, with 24 percent earning over $35,000 and 20 percent earning less than $10,000.[13]


Palestinian culture is a blend of Eastern Mediterranean influences. Palestinians share commonalities with nearby peoples of the Levant, including Egyptians, Lebanese, Syrians, and Jordanians.

Kanafeh is a popular Palestinian dessert which originated from Nablus. Kanafeh is becoming very popular in the United States, mostly in New York City.


Palestinians cook many foods native to Palestine, or a broader definition, the Levant. Examples are kanafeh, hummus, falafel, musakhan, waraq al-'inib, and other Palestinian dishes. These foods, such as Kanafeh, have been very popular in the United States, mostly in New York City.[18]


Palestinian Americans have owned Middle Eastern groceries, shops and restaurants ever since their immigration to the United States. Most of these businesses are in large cities such as New York City and Chicago.[19]


While Palestinian Americans are typically not more politically active than the population at large they are very politically aware of their history and the issues facing their homeland. They are more active in social organizations, such as mosques, churches and local associations, than in political ones, though the former have strong political implications. In the absence of a Palestinian state, the unity and preservation of communities in the diaspora serve to maintain Palestinian identity.


Only several Americans of Palestinian ancestry served as congresspeople. Rashida Tlaib, an American born to Palestinian parents, is a Democratic congresswoman of the Michigan House of Representatives, who ran for U.S. House of Representatives seat from Michigan's 13th congressional district. She became one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress (along with Somali-American Ilhan Omar of Minnesota), and the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress.[20][21] Justin Amash, is an Independent congressman of Palestinian ancestry, serving in the U.S House of Representatives representing Michigan's 3rd District.

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "B04001: First Ancestry Reported: 2009–2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 30, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  2. ^ "Palestinian Americans facts, information, pictures | articles about Palestinian Americans". Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Kurson, Ken. "Palestinian Americans". Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Adely, Hannan (July 19, 2014). "Hundreds of Palestinians rally in Paterson in protest of Israeli military campaign". North Jersey Media Group. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Cowen, Richard (May 18, 2014). "Paterson's Palestinians celebrate annual flag-raising at City Hall". North Jersey Media Group. Archived from the original on October 10, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Hedges, Chris (October 4, 1990). "Palestinians Struggling To Rebuild Their Lives". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Yellin, Deena (May 3, 2015). "Palestinian flag-raising is highlight of heritage week in Paterson". North Jersey Media Group. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  8. ^ Yoked, Tzach (December 20, 2017). "New Nablus Welcome to Little Palestine, New Jersey". Haaretz. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  9. ^ "The Jew Who Helps Run an Important Arab-American Organization in Brooklyn". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  10. ^ Robbins, Liz (2017). "Worry and Disbelief in Yemeni-American Community in Brooklyn". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  11. ^ "Illinois Arab American Community". Arab America. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  12. ^ "Palestinians". Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c "Palestinian Americans - History, Israel, Modern era, Significant immigration waves, Settlement patterns". Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  14. ^ Murphy, Maureen Clare (August 2, 2006). "Christianity in Palestine: Misrepresentation and Dispossession". The Electronic Intifada. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  15. ^ "The latest hot language among Palestinians in Gaza? Hebrew". Christian Science Monitor. March 18, 2013. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  16. ^ "Educational Attainment in the United States: 2012 - Detailed Tables". United State Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 4, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  17. ^ "Arab Countries Ranked by Literacy Rate". Arab America. September 8, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  18. ^ "'Bearded Bakers' Bring Epic Dessert Party to NYC". NBC New York. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  19. ^ Sifton, Sam (February 23, 2010). "Tanoreen Restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  20. ^ "Rashida Tlaib, With Primary Win, Is Poised to Become First Muslim Woman in Congress". Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  21. ^ "With Primary Win, Rashida Tlaib Set to Become First Palestinian-American Congresswoman". Haaretz. August 8, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.

External linksEdit