chapter  14
10 Pages

Dual Narratives on the Middle East Confl ict: Analysis of a French Literary Genre, 1967–2006


On June 4, 1967, Les Temps Modernes published a special issue entitled “The Arab-Israeli Confl ict.” Aside from the fact that it was huge (over one thousand pages compared to its typical two hundred) and the coincidence that it came off the press twenty-four hours before the start of the Six-Day War, this issue was also special in terms of its mode of presentation. In a departure from the journal’s customary stance of unbridled unilateral support in a given confl ict (the Algerian and Vietnamese National Liberation Movements, and the partisans of the 1956 Hungarian insurrection), Claude Lanzmann, the editor in chief, deliberately chose to invite both Arabs and Israelis to present their respective views on the confl ict. Cognizant of its limited impact, he warned his readers that this contiguous juxtaposition of articles should not be taken as a premise for dialogue that would lead to imminent reconciliation. In fact, the twenty-two articles representing the Arab view were not contrapuntal to the nineteen proIsrael articles; they were written as though the other half of the journal was simply not there.