English-language proficiency among Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs in the United States, 1980-2000

Uzi Rebhun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study assesses the determinants of English-language proficiency among three subgroups of Israeli immigrants in the United States, namely native-born Israeli Jews, foreign-born Israeli Jews, and Palestinian Arabs, and how these determinants have changed over time. Multivariate analyses of decennial censuses from 1980, 1990, and 2000 reveal substantial differences in the directions and significance of the relationships between the independent variables and English proficiency of the subgroups under investigation. Ethnoreligious affiliation per se is seen to be an important factor that consistently explains intra-group variation in English proficiency. This lends support to the split approach over the lump approach in attempting to understand immigrants' linguistic dynamics in the new country. The findings are discussed in reference to three working hypotheses - "exposure," "efficiency," and "economic incentives" - and in the specific sociopolitical conditions of Jews and Arabs at both origin and destination.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)271-317
Number of pages47
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by the Center for Migration Studies of New York. All rights reserved.


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