Palestinian diaspora

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The Palestinian diaspora (Arabic: الشتات الفلسطيني, al-shatat al-filastini), part of the wider Arab diaspora, are Palestinian people living outside the region of Palestine.


Palestinian individuals have a long history of migration. Silk workers from Tiberias are mentioned in 13th-century Parisian tax records.[1] However, the first large emigration wave of Arab Christians out of Palestine began in the mid-19th century; factors driving the emigration included economic opportunities, avoiding forced military service, and localized conflicts such as the 1860 civil conflict in Mount Lebanon and Damascus.[2][3][4]

The 1922 census of Palestine's returns for Palestinians living abroad listed 4,054 Muslims, 6,264 Jews, 10,107 Christians, and 181 Druze.[5]

Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war

Since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Palestinians have experienced several waves of exile and have spread into different host countries around the world.[6] In addition to the more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees of 1948, hundreds of thousands were also displaced in the 1967 Six-Day War. In fact, after 1967, a number of young Palestinian men were encouraged to migrate to South America.[7] Together, these 1948 and 1967 refugees make up the majority of the Palestinian diaspora.[6][8] Besides those displaced by war, others have emigrated overseas for various reasons such as work opportunity, education[9][10] and religious persecution.[8] In the decade following the 1967 war, for example, an average of 21,000 Palestinians per year were forced out of Israeli-controlled areas.[11] The pattern of Palestinian flight continued during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.


In the absence of a comprehensive census including all Palestinian diaspora populations and those that remained within the area once known as the Mandatory Palestine, exact population figures are difficult to determine. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the number of Palestinians worldwide at the end of 2003 was 9.6 million, an increase of 800,000 since 2001.[12]

The issue of the Palestinian right of return has been of central importance to Palestinians and more broadly the Arab world since 1948.[6] It is the dream of many in the Palestinian diaspora, and is present most strongly in Palestinian refugee camps.[13] In the largest such camp in Lebanon, Ain al-Hilweh, neighborhoods are named for the Galilee towns and villages from which the original refugees came, such as Az-Zeeb, Safsaf and Hittin.[13] Even though 97% of the camp's inhabitants have never seen the towns and villages their parents and grandparents left behind, most insist that the right of return is an inalienable right and one that they will never renounce.[13]

Population figures

It is estimated that more than 6 million Palestinians live in a global diaspora.[14]

The countries outside the Palestinian territories with significant Palestinian populations are:

The majority of the estimated 100,000 Palestinians in the European Union (EU) are in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Outside the EU is the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland. Germany's capital Berlin has one of the largest Palestinian communities outside of the Middle East with about 30,000-40,000 people of Palestinian origin residing in the city (~1% of the total population).[15]

In the United States, this includes a Palestinian community of 800-1,000 in Gallup, New Mexico, highly involved in the area's Southwest jewelry industry.[16][citation needed]

Notable Palestinians in the diaspora

See also


  1. ^ Sharon Farmer. The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris. Artisanal Migration, Technological Innovation, and Gendered Experience, Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania, 2017, p. 93.
  2. ^ The Lebanese in the world: a century of emigration, Albert Habib Hourani, Nadim Shehadi, Centre for Lebanese Studies (Great Britain), Centre for Lebanese Studies in association with I.B. Tauris, 1992
  3. ^ Between Argentines and Arabs: Argentine orientalism, Arab immigrants, and the writing of identity, Christina Civantos, SUNY Press, 2005, p. 6.
  4. ^ Arab and Jewish immigrants in Latin America: images and realities, by Ignacio Klich, Jeff Lesser, 1998, pp. 165, 108.
  5. ^ Palestine Census ( 1922).
  6. ^ a b c "The Palestinian Diaspora". Le Monde Diplomatique. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
  7. ^ John Tofik Karam, "On the Trail and Trial of a Palestinian Diaspora…"
  8. ^ a b "Middle East: Palestine from". February 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  9. ^ "Saudi Arabia finances study abroad for Palestinian students". The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. 2007-04-25. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  10. ^ "Swarthmore Senior Founds Organization for Palestinian Students in U.S." Swarthmore. March 27, 2006. Archived from the original on July 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  11. ^ Palestine Refugees: 50 Years of Injustice", The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations", [1] (28 Nov. 2002)
  12. ^ "Statistical Abstract of Palestine No. 5" (PDF). Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. October 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
  13. ^ a b c "One Day We'll Rise Again - and Return". Al-Ahram Weekly. 28 October – 3 November 1999. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
  14. ^ "The Palestinian Diaspora | Global Exchange". Archived from the original on 2013-01-01. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Leduff, Charlie (18 July 2003). "Gallup Journal; Tension over Who Prospers in an Indian Capital". The New York Times.

External links