9. To which places do Arab Americans trace their ancestry?
Arab Americans trace their roots to many places, including parts or all of Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Some Arabs are Israeli citizens.

10. Is Palestine a country?
Historically, Palestine was a country east of the Mediterranean Sea that includes Israel and parts of Jordan. As a distinct region, Palestine was under Ottoman control (a Turkish empire) and then British control until 1948, when the nation of Israel was created. Areas of Palestine became Israel and part of Jordan. Today, Palestinians share a collective national identity and are moving back toward independence and self-rule as a country. The Palestinian National Council, acts as the government.

11. Shouldn't Iran be in that list?
No. Iran is not an Arab country. Although Iran borders Iraq, it is descended from the Persian empire and has a different language and cultural history than the Arab countries. The dominant language in Iran is Farsi, not Arabic, although other languages are spoken there as well. Persian is sometimes used to describe either the language or the ethnicity, but Farsi and Iranian are not interchangeable. Iran's location, the fact that it is an Islamic country and the similarity of its name to Iraq may confuse people.

12. So, not all people from the Middle East are Arabs?
That is correct. The four main language groups in the Middle East are Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish. Other significant language groups are Kurdish and Berber. Arabs are largest in terms of population and land holdings, and this handbook focuses on people who have emigrated from or who are descended from people in those areas.

13. Are there other groups from the Arab region?
Yes. Assyrians, Berbers, Chaldeans and Kurds have languages rooted in pre-Arabic times. There also are religious differences. The Chaldeans are the largest of these groups in the United States.

14. Who are Chaldeans?
Chaldeans are Catholics from Iraq. A religious and ethnic minority there, Chaldeans have some large communities in the United States, the largest in Detroit. The Chaldean Catholic Church has had connections with the Roman Catholic Church since 1551, and has been affiliated since 1830. The Chaldean Diocese of the Catholic Church in the United States has parishes in Michigan, California, Chicago and Arizona. It also has several missions. Churches offer Chaldean language services. Chaldeans and Assyrians, along with Arabs, are Semite people. The cultural foundation is similar, but the religious affiliation is different.

15. So, are Chaldeans Arabs, or not?
Chaldeans and Arabs share some issues, but they have different identities. The Chaldean language is different from Arabic and, in Iraq, Chaldeans are religiously distinct from the Muslim majority. While Chaldeans foster a separate identity, they also have an Iraqi nationality and some shared concerns with Arabs. These nuances are lost by federal classifications, which sometimes reclassify Chaldeans as Arab or Iraqi. It is best to ask people how they would like to be identified, to be specific and, when relevant, to explain.


Contents :: Overview :: Origins :: Language :: Demographics :: Family :: Customs

Religion :: Politics :: Terminology :: Stereotypes :: Coverage :: Resources :: Credits


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