Was Steve Jobs the Son of a Syrian Refugee?


Was Steve Jobs a son of a refugee?

Courtesy of Occupy Democrats, with over 53,000 likes and 46,000 shares.  This meme claims that Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian refugee.  It links to this USA Today article in the comments, even though the article doesn’t even confirm their claim!  After learning the history of his father, this meme becomes extremely misleading at best.  Regardless of one’s view on immigration or the current Syria refugee crisis, this argument should not be used in the immigration debate.

The Real History of Steve Jobs’s Father

This information is taken from an Al Arabiya article written several years ago.

Abdul Fattah Jandali was born in Homs, Syria in 1931 to a wealthy family.  At 18, he moved to Lebanon to continue his studies at the American University of Beirut.  There, he became involved in activism, and due to the political situation in Lebanon, decided to move to the US in 1954, where he lived with his relative (the Syrian ambassador to the UN) in New York.

Once in the US, he studied a year at Columbia before getting a scholarship to go to the University of Wisconsin, where he eventually earned a masters and PhD in economics and political science.  At Wisconsin, Jandali met and dated Joanne Carol Schieble.  The couple had a baby in 1956, a child who was literally to become the next Steve Jobs.  However, Joanne’s father refused to let her marry Jandali because he wasn’t Catholic, so she abruptly moved to San Francisco on her own, and put the baby up for adoption.  Jandali never met his son, except unknowingly.  Paul and Clara Jobs ended up adopting the boy, and the rest is history we’re more familiar with.

Eventually, Jandali faced some financial problems, and with his family’s ambassador connections, ended up moving back to Syria to pursue a job in the diplomatic corps.  This never really worked out, and he returned back to the US in 1962 (not as a refugee).  Back in the US, he became an assistant professor at both Michigan and Nevada before getting into the restaurant industry, and eventually became the vice chairman of Boomtown Casino in Reno.

For a little more background, Jandali was a non-practicing Muslim, and was quoted by the British Observer as saying,

I also believe in family and advise Arab youth who come to the States to study, not to stay long because the Arab world is full of opportunities, especially Gulf countries.

How did Steve Jobs view his biological parents?

Well, he said they

“were my sperm and egg bank. That’s not harsh, it’s just the way it was, a sperm bank thing, nothing more.”  

As for Paul and Clara Jobs, he expressed that they

“were my parents 1,000 percent”


There are many examples of successful immigrants and children of immigrants.  They often bring unique talents and genius, like Einstein and Sophia Loren, or drive and motivation, like Sergey Brin (Google), Elon Musk (PayPal and Tesla) and Sahid Khan (Flex-N-Gate and Jacksonville Jaguars).  It’s more than fair to point out these success stories to further a political point, but attributing Steve Jobs to Syrian refugees, or even a “Syrian migrant”, is just being dishonest.  His biological father came from a privileged family, had the means to voluntarily move to the US, and didn’t raise or have any contact with Steve Jobs.

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