The American Experience: Palestinians in the U.S.

VOL. 18


No. 4
P. 18
The American Experience: Palestinians in the U.S.

With between 150,000 and 250,000 members, the Palestinian community in the United States accounts for only approximately 10 percent of the two million-strong Arab-American community (numbers that also equal something less than 4 percent of the American Jewish community).

No reliable immigration or census figures exist for Palestinian Americans. Because the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has only rarely recognized "Palestinian" as a nationality, meaningful immigration statistics are lacking. In the 1980 census, the first in which respondents had an opportunity to list their ancestry, only 21,288 individuals listed Palestinian. The Palestinian Statistical Abstract for 1983 lists 108,045 Palestinians as living in the U.S.,2 but educated guesses by those active in Arab-American organizations seem to fall in the 200,000-400,000 range. The latter figure is probably high, but a range centering on the 200,000 figure seems reasonable. Whatever the exact number, it is quite small compared with other ethnic minorities.

Kathleen Christison worked as a political analyst with the CIA from 1964 to 1979 and writes about the Middle East.