Resistance Literature and Occupied Palestine in Cold War Beirut
Cold War
Ghassan Kanafani
Arthur Koestler
resistance literature
Afro-Asian writers
Arabic novel

For the last decade of his life, the Palestinian intellectual, author, and editor Ghassan Kanafani (d. 1972) was deeply immersed in theorizing, lecturing, and publishing on Palestinian resistance literature from Beirut. A refugee of the 1948 war, Kanafani presented his theory of resistance literature and the notion of “cultural siege” at the March 1967 Beirut conference of the Soviet-funded Afro-Asian Writers Association (AAWA). Articulated in resistance to Zionist propaganda literature and in solidarity with Marxist-Leninist revolutionary struggles in the Third World, Kanafani was inspired by Maxim Gorky, William Faulkner, and Mao Zedong alike. In books, essays, and lectures, Kanafani argued that Zionist propaganda literature served as a “weapon” in the war against Palestine, returning repeatedly to Arthur Koestler’s 1946 Thieves in the Night. Better known for his critique of Stalinism in Darkness at Noon (1940), Koestler was also actively involved in waging cultural Cold War, writing the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Congress for Cultural Freedom 1950 manifesto and helping the organization infiltrate Afro-Asian writing in the wake of Bandung. Kanafani’s 1960s theory of resistance literature thus responded at once to the psychological dislocation of Zionist propaganda fiction and the cultural infiltration of Arabic literature in the Cold War.

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Cold War Nakba

In March 1967, Kanafani lectured on resistance literature at the Soviet-sponsored AAWA conference being held in Beirut. The lecture drew from his recent critical book-length studies, Adab al-muqawama fi Filastin al-muhtalla (Resistance literature in occupied Palestine) and Fi al-adab al-sahyuni (On Zionist literature), published in the previous year, and addressing Third World writers in the context of the Cold War. Kanafani looked back to the disarticulation of Palestine in the wake of the Nakba, saying, “When Palestine fell into the hands of the enemy, there was almost no Arab culture left that could be a nucleus for a new literary revival. A whole generation, or more accurately generations of intellectuals had left Palestine for exile, leaving only a predominantly rural Arab community subject to a cultural, social and political siege seldom known throughout the world.”1 This extreme form of cultural siege, Kanafani argued, required Palestinians to take up the “weapon of literature” as a form of “resistance”2—muqawama—to the Palestinian experience of occupation, siege, and exile, and in response to the role of Zionist propaganda fiction in bringing it about. Kanafani posed, then, a theory of resistance literature well acquainted with psychological warfare at the very moment that the global press was uncovering U.S. cultural infiltration of Third World letters through projects like the Department of State’s Franklin Books Program, and most infamously, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), both of which were covertly funded by the CIA.3

"The AAWA meeting was held shortly before the 1967 war and the ensuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, and the Golan Heights, as Cold War Beirut played host to soft- power psychological operations. By the time the association printed an essay version of “Resistance Literature in Occupied Palestine” in its Afro-Asian Writings journal (subsequently renamed Lotus) in a trilingual Arabic, English, and French edition in 1968, the war was lost, Palestine was under total occupation, and Kanafani had come out with a new volume on Palestinian resistance liter- ature under occupation, Al-adab al-filastini al-muqawim taht al-ihtilal. This redoubling of occu- pation and its fraught temporality of repetition and flashback served as the framing for Kanafani’s 1969 novel ‘A’id ila Haifa (Returning to Haifa), which figures the psychological disorientation and sense of chaos that marked the 1948 siege and fall of Haifa, overlaid with the 1967 occupation. Critics repeatedly point to William Faulkner’s influence. A fictional elaboration of Kanafani’s critical writing on the Zionist use of the “weapon of literature” (silah al-adab) and the potential for a Palestinian literature of resistance, the novel makes explicit the role of Zionist propaganda fiction in the colonization of Palestine when it directly names Koestler’s novel Thieves in the Night as the book that leads Kanafani’s Iphrat and Miriam Koshen to Haifa."

Kanafani himself, like fellow Palestinian frequenters of Beirut cafés—Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Tawfiq Sayigh, Anis Sayigh, and Walid Khalidi—represented the “generations of intellectuals [who] had left Palestine for exile,” writing from the other side of the cultural siege and publishing in Beirut,4 a city itself assailed by the Cold War.5 The fall of Haifa and other Palestinian localities to Zionist military and propaganda attacks was foundational for these writers in exile and their exposure to literary Cold War conflicts in Beirut. Much like the question of Palestine itself at meetings of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO)6 and of the AAWA,7 Palestine’s literary arsenal in turn became central to the conceiving of resistant alignments and (non)alignments,8 part of a Third World literature of global revolution in the face of ongoing imperialism and settler colonialism, of cultural siege and psychological blitz worldwide—what the United States would call psychological operations or PSYOPs. Simultaneously, the Third World emerged as the primary terrain of Sino-Soviet polemics, a dispute evidenced in the split of Afro-Asian writers into the Afro-Asian Writers’ Bureau, with influence emanating from Beijing; and the Cairo-based Permanent Bureau of the AAWA, receiving Soviet funding.

At the March 1967 meeting in Beirut, AAWA participants decried the work of the CCF literary journals, including Hiwar (Beirut), Black Orpheus (Ibadan), Transition (Kampala), Quest (Bombay), and the CCF’s flagship, Encounter (London), as well as its conferences (including the 1961 Rome Conference for the Arab Writer and the 1962 Conference on African Literature in English at Makerere University). Other operations of the CCF included the concept and first three 1962 issues of Yusuf al-Khal’s Adab; the wire service for Arab cultural affairs, Adwa (organized between Paris and the CCF offices in Beirut and Cairo); and cultivating institutions of liberal Arab culture in collaboration with leading figures such as the pioneering Arabic-English literary translator, Denys Johnson-Davies, and esteemed intellectual historian Albert Hourani. The phrase that appears in the AAWA reports to describe this kind of activity is “imperial infiltration [tasallul],”9 which indexes the importance of literature and culture in the global Cold War using the very language deployed by the Eisenhower administration inthe 1950s.10 Announcements were made that the AAWA would resist this state of world literary affairs by launching its own journal, titled Afro-Asian Writings and seeking wide distribution globally.11 Kanafani turned to fiction, criticism, and the editing process as components of the project of resistance literature.12 The potential for widely disseminated journals to break colonially and imperially imposed cultural siege is clearly evident in Kanafani’s editorial work with Filastin and later Al-hadaf, the organ of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. As editor, Kanafani joined this theory of resistance literature with not only the Palestinian resistance struggle but also in solidarity with global national liberation struggles and radical Black thought. He placed his theory and poems by Palestinian poets such as Mahmoud Darwish and Samih al-Qasim into direct conversation with Asian, African, Latin American, and African American resistance movements13 and their own radical critiques.

From the early 1960s, Kanafani’s theory of resistance literature was marked by discordant influences. He was at once theorizing resistance literature in the context of the Palestinian and Third World liberation struggles, taking cues from Maoist thought,14 invoking the legacy of Soviet social realist discourses in Palestinian literary production, inspired by visions of U.S. modernism, and closely reading Zionist literature. In his lectures, essays, and book-length study theorizing the role of propaganda literature in winning global support for the Zionist cause, alongside such texts as Leon Uris’s novel Exodus, James Michener’s The Source, Theodor Herzl’s The Old New Land, Yael Dayan’s Envy the Frightened, George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, Benjamin Disraeli’s David Alroy, and Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, Koestler’s Thieves in the Night emerges as decisively important.15 Like Uris’s Exodus, Koestler’s novel would appear not only as a repeat footnote and reference in Kanafani’s 1966–67 book-length critical studies, but also as an intertext in his fiction. The racism in much Zionist propaganda fiction disturbed Kanafani, and he sought to resist it by theorizing an anti-racist literature of resistance that was also anti-colonial and anti-imperial. In March 1965, he gave a lecture in Beirut on the question of “Race and Zionist Literature,” where he interrogated the makings of Zionist propaganda fiction in English and other foreign languages, noting especially their lack of realism.16 In his 1967 study, Fi al-adab al-sahyuni, Kanafani argued that it is precisely the relationship to reality—al-waqi‘—that distinguishes the longing at work in romantic, ahistorical, or often racist Zionist propaganda fiction from that in a Palestinian literature of resistance. Kanafani states that, “in form and content, in its entirety and each of its parts,” it is “the literature that is written inside [dakhil] the walls of Zionist occupation, [by] the Arab youth sentenced to military rule, alone that can endure this brave confrontation… . with reality.”17 Kanafani ends the introduction to his study of Zionist literature admonishing his readers to “know your enemy,” as he in turn theorizes a literature of resistance.

In Arabic, discussions of Kanafani’s writing over the decades center on his critical, editorial, and creative contributions to the Palestinian resistance, as well as the diverse range of global influences evident in his work, emanating from superpowers in a state of ongoing Cold War. In her book Al-tariq ila al-khayma al-ukhra: Dirasat fi a’mal Ghassan Kanafani (The path to the other tent: A study of Ghassan Kanafani’s works), Radwa Ashour argues for the formal influence of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury on Kanafani’s literary production.18 Critics Fayiz Rashid and ‘Adil al-Usta concur, placing Faulkner among a range of writers influencing Kanafani, from American modernists like Faulkner and T. S. Eliot, to the rather different preoccupations of the committed socialism of Bertolt Brecht and Gorky. Al-Usta historicizes this interest in Soviet literature, noting the centrality of Russian authors to theearly Palestinian novelistic production of Khalil Baydas, who was also a Russian-Arabic translator. 19 Rashid calls upon scholars, however, “not to forget another aspect of Kanafani’s literary writing [adab],” one neither modernist nor social realist, namely, what Rashid describes as Kanafani’s “indirect response to Zionist literature written in English or translated into it. This aspect has not garnered the attention of critics, with a few known exceptions.”20 On the eve of Kanafani’s assassination in 1972, the Beirut-based Palestinian press had called upon Palestinian writers to respond to the ideological challenge of Anglophone Zionist literature’s global reach. In an article published in both Al-hadaf and Shu’un filastiniyya, Fadil ‘Abbas Hadi called for the coming of that Palestinian writer whose “name will then be remembered alongside the title of a novel, due to its popularity among readers everywhere, as Arthur Koestler’s name is connected to the title of his novel Darkness at Noon and its depiction of Stalinism, and not with any of the novels he wrote about the Jewish diaspora and Zionism.”21

In Palestinian intellectual circles in Beirut in the 1950s and 1960s, Koestler was in fact rather well known for his Zionist propaganda work. In the 1966 book version of Resistance Literature, Kanafani dedicates a chapter to analyzing Zionist literary strategy; in the introduction to the companion study, Fi al-adab al-sahyuni, he refers to “the weapon of literature”; and in both, he points the reader to Koestler’s Zionist novels while articulating a Third World solidarity of decolonial resistance. Koestler’s 1946 novel Thieves in the Night is directly referenced in Kanafani’s novel Returning to Haifa in 1969; while Koestler’s reporting on the fall of Haifa informed Beirut-based Palestinian intellectual Walid Khalidi’s sense of the “psychological blitz” at work in the disinformation and radio-broadcast distortion that accompanied the 1948 siege of the city,22 which Koestler described in enthusiastic terms of praise and admiration in his 1949 book Promise and Fulfillment: Palestine, 1917–1949.

Khalidi published an essay in 1964 in Hiwar (a journal he had declined to edit) titled “Hawla mawaqif al-Gharb min al-qadiyya al-filastiniyya” (On the West’s positions on the Palestinian cause). It spoke directly to the role of propaganda in the Zionist movement: the rhetoric of “rescuing the land” through Zionism was, as Khalidi notes, “an important line of propaganda [di‘aya] for gathering support from abroad.”23Hiwar, then, was publishing an essay that was both about propaganda, but was itself also propaganda, one that posed as a corrective to Zionist tropes of “rescuing the land,” which seemed to suggest that the journal was not “gathering support from abroad.” In effect, through secrecy and duplicity, the CCF took the Palestinian cause as cover as it infiltrated Arabic literature through the Beirut press. When the role of the CIA in the covert propaganda project that was the CCF was decisively revealed in the late spring of 1966 (confirming years of suspicion in the Arabic and global press), the psychological dislocation left some with what scholar Jean Franco described in the context of the CCF’s Latin America projects as “the bitterness of the duped.”24 In Arabic, the sense of shock took form in satire, with Unsi al-Hajj in Beirut’s Mulhaq al-nahar, for instance “imagin[ing] the CIA encouraging Tawfiq Sayigh, the journal’s editor, to publish the stories of Layla Ba’albaki and Ghada al-Samman and Walid Ikhlasi and Zakariyya Tamer and ‘Abd al-Salam al-‘Ujayli, in order to strengthen the pillars of imperialism in the Middle East and to kill the Palestinian cause!”25 Kanafani—also a brilliant satirist who regularly used different pen names—wrote a book review as Faris Faris in 1968. Registering his deep disappointment in a volume of supposedly “revolutionary stories” titled La tashtaru khubzan, ishtaru dinamit! (Don’t buy bread, buy dynamite!) just out with the radical Ibn Sina press in Beirut (which also advertised volumes by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Friedrich Engels, Joseph Stalin, and Mao in Arabic translation), he avers that “if the American Central Intelligence Agency understood, it would have printeda hundred million copies of this book, and shelled the revolutionary world with them until it dispensed with the revolutionary.”26 Had Gorky’s writing been this bad, Kanafani claims (as Faris), “the Bolshevik revolution would have been delayed by an entire century at the very least.”27 This would-be act of revolutionary writing fails, he argues, by “all known standards extending from Beijing to the storytellers of the Qabr ‘Atika quarter in Damascus.”28

Thieves in the Night

In the end, it was the material military power of the propaganda novel that Kanafani’s study Fi al-adab al-sahyuni sought to theorize. Far cheaper than dynamite, the “Zionist use of the literary weapon” offered Kanafani a case study that the Palestinian resistance—schooled in Mao from the mid-1960s—might turn to other ends. Khalidi’s article, like Kanafani’s fiction and literary criticism, gave the lie to everything Koestler’s long novel, Thieves in the Night, stood for—idylls of Zion, the settlers of Ezra’s Tower, the desert blooming under the careful watch of the Haganah. Both Louis A. Gordon and more recently Susie Linfield, in studies of Arthur Koestler’s relationship with Zionist thought, underscore the importance to his future career of Koestler’s earlier journalistic experiences in mandatory Palestine.29 Koestler had lived on a kibbutz in 1926, worked with Vladimir Jabotinsky (an organizer and strategist for the Irgun with a career in Zionist propaganda), and edited the short-lived Nile and Palestine Gazette in the late 1920s. Lasting only three issues, it was a German-supported pro-Zionist propaganda publication in Arabic, aiming to convince Palestinian Arabs of the merits of Zionism. Linfield suggests that it was this editorial experience that enabled Koestler to get his position as Middle East correspondent for the Berlin-based Ullstein-Verlag newspaper group. In 1949, Koestler described the publisher: “Ullstein’s was a kind of super-trust; the largest organization of its kind in Europe, and probably in the world. They published four daily newspapers in Berlin alone … apart from these, Ullstein’s published more than a dozen weekly and monthly periodicals, ran their own news service, their own travel agency, etc. and were one of the leading book publishers.”30 Koestler entered the offices of “little magazines and mushroom publications, [where] the ‘responsible editor’ often has nothing at all to do with running the paper; he is simply a person of some social standing and with a bank reference who lends his name for the purpose.”31 Koestler parlayed his work at Ullstein’s into a domain of covert influence when he joined the German Communist Party, while maintaining connections with the Zionist movement.

In his 1946 novel, Thieves in the Night, the Hill of Dogs near the imaginary Palestinian village of Kfar Tabiyeh is occupied by Zionist settlers who set up a militarized encampment with trenches, barbed wire, and a searchlight scanning the hills of the Galilee on moonless nights from atop the settlement’s namesake Ezra’s Tower. Set in the 1930s, Koestler’s is a calculated novel, invested in optics, surveillance, and the Zionist cause. Its characters lament that they “are not picturesque,” and then proceed to ride on horseback through Galilee at sunset, with that chapter closing: “Outside in the hills, the moon was just rising over Ezra’s Tower, the big, peaceful, orange-coloured moon of Galilee.”32 Against this romantically lit backdrop, Zionist terrorist organizations of the Irgun and Stern Gang plan secret operations, issuing propaganda pamphlets and broadcasting the mobile underground radio station “The Voice of Fighting Zion.” Two pages earlier, the mourner’s kaddish is recited for the Jewish refugees that are refused entry to Palestine as they await their fate on the cattle ship Assimi, “carrying its passengers towards the sunny Mediterranean and the various forms of death awaitingthem.”33 Like Koestler, by the end of the book, his protagonist, Joseph, is also penning orange-colored scenes of Zion, even though earlier he swears, “I loathe everything connected with propaganda.”34

In keeping with the novel’s distance from both realism and more modernist influences, the Palestinians in the novel are written in complete contrast; when, for instance, the mukhtar of the village in the valley below Ezra’s Tower walks the cobblestone streets of his changing landscape, the novel reads, “At the sight of [the women’s] shapeless, slatternly black widow-gear, of their faces which were withered and dumb at twenty, and of the eternal infant with the fly-ridden slimy face which they carried on their sagging breast or in a sling on their back, the Mukhtar thought with renewed fury of the shameless bitches on the Hill of Dogs and their naked arms and thighs.”35 The racism in Koestler’s Zionist propaganda fiction that Kanafani had decried, in his 1965 lecture and articles and in Fi al-adab al-sahyuni, is here unmistakable (as is the misogyny), taking distance from reality through the profuse use of adjectives: “shapeless,” “slatternly,” “black,” “withered and dumb [at twenty!],” “eternal infant[s],” “fly-ridden,” “slimy face[s],” and “sagging breast[s].” Realist Thieves in the Night is not; per Kanafani and Hadi, perhaps it could not be. The novel served as a model of precisely the kind of message that the Palestinian resistance fought against in the sixties Beirut press, and in Palestine since the 1930s. Historically and materially attuned to the production of this body of literature, Kanafani in turn theorized—through his fiction, his criticism, his public lectures, and his labor as editor of Filastin, Al-muharrir, and Al-hadaf—an anti-racist literature of Marxist-Leninist liberation and world revolution, consonant with struggles for women’s liberation, and in solidarity with anti-imperial, anti-totalitarian democratic struggles across Africa, Asia, and the Americas, with some Faulkner thrown in for good measure.

Thieves in the Night begins in 1937, one year into the anti-imperial Arab Revolt of 1936–39 in Palestine, and opens with a settler’s arrival:
“If I get killed today, it won’t be by falling off the top of a truck,” Joseph thought, digging his fingers into the tarred canvas cover of the swaying and lurching vehicle. He lay on his back, with arms spread out, a horizontally crucified figure on a rocking hearse under the stars. The truck’s load was piled so high that Joseph and his friends travelled about five yards above ground, heaving from one side to the other on the bumpy rock-bed of the wadi; it felt as if the whole black mammoth of a truck might topple over at any minute.36

Thieves in the Night reverberates in Kanafani’s works of resistance literature. Returning to Haifa drives so many of the same roads almost thirty years later, tracing the occupation heralded by Koestler. Kanafani’s 1963 Rijal fil-shams (Men in the Sun) figures the fate of a group of three Palestinians fleeing the hopelessness of occupied Palestine, looking for work in Kuwait, in that “lorry” that will become their coffin. In Thieves in the Night, Joseph will “sometimes dream at night that I lie on my belly and bite into the live throbbing flesh of the earth, suckling the milk of Galilee.”37 In the opening page of Rijal fil-shams, as in the first minutes of the 1972 film version, Al-makhdu’un (The Dupes, directed by Tawfiq Saleh), the land of Palestine is still throbbing: “Abu Qais rested on the damp ground, and the earth began to throb under him with tired heartbeats, which trembled through the grains of sand and penetrated the cells of his body.”38 His grave will be a trash heap in Kuwait; his arm, like those of his suffocated fellow passengers, will be frozen in protest in rigor mortis. Kanafani in a sense cites Koestler through a Cold War call-and-response literary armature as he theorizes and publishes the resistance literature of occupied Palestine, writes a bit like Faulkner, translates Maoist thought, and popularizes a Palestinian preoccupation with decolonizing Palestine, preferably with the people’s poetry and the enemy’s own weapons.

Darkness at Noon

As Koestler lauded the techniques of propaganda and psychological blitz that had founded the State of Israel in his 1949 Promise and Fulfillment and published his storied past with the Ullstein newspaper group as a communist double-agent who now renounced The God That Failed (that is, communism), he was simultaneously closely collaborating with a group of former failed communists to plan the workings of the CIA’s response to Soviet cultural propaganda. 39 Koestler was the author of the CCF’s founding manifesto, circulated at their first congress in Berlin in 1950, and would prove himself at times too suspiciously militant even for the organization’s covert sponsor, the CIA.40 As Frances Stonor Saunders details in Who Paid the Piper?: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, her groundbreaking study of the Congress for Cultural Freedom:

His document [a report titled “Immediate Tasks for the Transition Period”] was discussed by the steering committee in his absence. He wasn’t even on the committee. Koestler’s intolerance of disagreement, his irrational anger and arrogant assertion of his own genius, had now persuaded Washington that he was more of a liability than an asset. Since the June conference, Koestler had been holding regular meetings at his home in Verte Rive with [James] Burnham, [Irving] Brown, Raymond Aron, [Melvin] Lasky, and other members of the “inner circle.” He had, said Mamaine [Koestler], become, “quite obsessed with the Congress” and was “barely able to sleep.” These gatherings did not go unnoticed. In August 1950, the French Communist weekly L’Action arrived at the imaginative conclusion that Koestler was planning terrorist militia from his home with Burnham and Brown.41

Despite Saunders’ claim that the CCF marginalized Koestler in the wake of this irreverent behavior, in fact he remained an “asset,” and his name continues to appear well past 1950 in the International Association for Cultural Freedom archive held at the University of Chicago’s Special Collections Research Center, as the CCF expanded its psychological operations to encompass the decolonizing Third World.

Before the sleepless summer of 1950, Koestler was best known not for his Zionist propaganda or his work with the CIA but for his 1940 novel Darkness at Noon, circulated in postwar Europe by the British. As Saunders notes, “The Information Research Department [or IRD, part of the British IRD Foreign Office] was, despite its innocuous title, a secret Ministry of Cold War. Drawing its budget from the secret vote (to avoid any unwelcome scrutiny of any operations which might require covert or semi-covert action), its purpose ‘was to produce and distribute and circulate unattributable propaganda.’”42Darkness at Noon is often cited as inspiration for George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984.43 A prison novel, it was penned in German by Koestler in the late 1930s between Paris, Provence, and an internment camp in the French Pyrenees. The original was lost when Koestler fled Paris in 1940 after his apartment was raided by the French police, and his personal papers were confiscated and relocated to the Special Archive of the KGB in Moscow;44 the version that became infamous and served as the source for all future editions was its near simultaneous translation into English by his twenty-two-year-old girlfriend Daphne Hardy, who came up with the title Darkness at Noon.45 The novel’s French translation was published by Pierre and Robert Calmann-Levy in 1945 as Le Zéro et l’infini and, as Martine Poulain tells it, “was an immediate success . . . . The reading of Koestler’s novel wasgreatly affected by the international political context of the moment, when the Cold War commenced in 1947.”46 Despite the paucity of paper available in France after the war, “more than 300,000 copies of Darkness at Noon were sold in France between 1945 and 1948.”47 Inciting particularly intense debate in the French press,48 by Poulain’s reading, “all accounts of the work assess it as a lucid exemplification of the tendencies of the Communist regime in the USSR (the term totalitarian is often used) as well as an examination of the effects of power on human psychology.”49

The novel’s protagonist is Nikolai Salmanovich Rubashov, a former revolutionary leader of “the Party” arrested in 1933 after “the movement had been defeated, [and] its members were outlawed and hunted and beaten to death.”50 Inspired by the Stalin show trials of 1938, the novel also echoes Koestler’s own time in a Spanish jail under Francisco Franco in 1937, awaiting execution for political activity (he would later be released), and his resignation from the German Communist Party in April of 1939. The letters he composed to his former German comrades that April while at work on Darkness at Noon offer a sharp critique of the state of the Communist Party and the Soviet regime; Koestler lamented that “the brotherhood of resistance . . . has been systematically eroded by the training in spy mania and the cultivation of denunciation psychosis,” while “the recommendation of ‘clean’ and ‘fair’ methods of political struggle is dismissed as petty-bourgeois sentimentality or a vestige of liberalism.”51

Before his arrest, Rubashov chastises party members for circulating the wrong kind of propaganda. He later remembers from his prison cell in an unnamed land old manifestos and hastily destroyed revolutionary pamphlets.52 Over and over in the novel, Rubashov stares at a light spot on the wall of the prison’s administrative office. From the first time he sees it, Rubashov “knew at once that the picture with the bearded heads and the numbered names had hung there.”53 The reader has already seen this picture in an earlier passage in which a feverish Rubashov casts for reasons for the party’s devolution into Stalinist-style totalitarianism, lies, and weaponized freedom. I quote at length:

Why are we so odious and detested?
We brought you the truth, and in our mouth it sounded a lie. We brought you freedom, and it looks in our hands like a whip. We brought you the living life, and where our voice is heard the trees wither and there is a rustling of dry leaves. We brought you the promise of the future, but our tongue stammered and barked …
He shivered. A picture appeared in his mind’s eye, a big photograph in a wooden frame: the delegates to the first congress of the Party. They sat at a long wooden table, some with their elbows propped on it, others with their hands on their knees; bearded and earnest, they gazed into the photographer’s lens. Above each head was a small circle, enclosing a number corresponding to a name printed underneath. All were solemn, only the old man who was presiding had a sly and amused look in his slit Tartar eyes. Rubashov sat second to his right, with his pince-nez on his nose.54

“A New Conspiracy against Arabic Literature”

Koestler had a long career in propaganda, serving as one of the central organizers of the CCF—in images from the first CCF meeting, when seated, he can be found, as though a spectral doppelganger of Rubashov in Darkness at Noon, not second but third from the right in a white shirt at a long table on a stage in Berlin in June 1950.55 The CCF ran from 1950 until a New York Times exposé in April 1966 blew its cover. Although, as historian and literary translator Michael Scammell notes, Koestler was “the star of the congress,” his performancewas too strident and too militant for the CIA’s taste.56 The CCF was designed to covertly counter Stalin’s Communist Information Bureau (Cominform), created in September 1946 with its first meeting held in Belgrade on 5 October 1947.57 The stuff of paradox born of coversion, duplicity, and the shadowing of Soviet propaganda and doublespeak, the CCF’s manifesto speaks of “a world in which everything serves a political purpose, which is for us unacceptable,” such that “it was necessary to create platforms from which culture could be expressed without regard to politics and without confusion with propaganda.”58 Part of a new kind of psychological warfare, born of the Cold War, the “most effective kind of propaganda,” in the words of the National Security Council, was the kind where “the subject moves in the direction you desire for reasons which he believes to be his own.”59

The CCF would attempt to feature Kanafani in their network through a short story prize nomination (which Egyptian author Yusuf Idris would in the end win, and scandalously refuse to accept), and although many close friends and colleagues of Kanafani’s published in the CCF’s Hiwar, he remained a skeptic. Tawfiq Sayigh recalls in his 1962 diary from the months spent setting up Hiwar a conversation one night at Uncle Sam’s coffeeshop in Beirut. Kanafani shared with him his deep suspicion of the organization’s foreign funding, cautioning Sayigh against embarking on the project. 60 That same year, just as Hiwar was beginning to publish in Beirut, Darwish, writing in the Israeli Communist Party’s Al-ittihad, expressed his own concern over Franklin Books, another U.S. cultural project that he denounced as “a new conspiracy against Arabic literature,” and which he feared would “overwhelm Arab writers and dissuade them from writing authentic Arabic literature that springs from the Arab hopes for liberation.”61 The Franklin Books Program, funded by and housed at the Department of State,62 though covertly funded in part by the CIA,63 was begun in 1952 with an explicit focus on the Arabic-speaking Middle East64 and conceived of itself as a response to Soviet cultural diplomacy. Darwish, as Maha Nassar shows, was inspired by a post-Stalinist social realist, anti-modernist vision for Palestinian literature in the 1960s. Nassar notes the important impact Soviet publications like the English-language edition of International Literature, published since the 1920s by the International Union of Revolutionary Writers, had on generations of Palestinian writers working in a global context of solidarity;65 and Darwish’s particular interest in the potential for anti-Stalinist Soviet fiction such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1962 novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

Franklin Books was, like the CCF, active in Beirut for much of the 1960s. Tawfiq Sayigh, the editor of the CCF’s Hiwar, translated an anthology of contemporary U.S. poetry into Arabic for Franklin in 1963.66 That year, when his brother Anis wanted to visit the family in Beirut during his last year teaching at Cambridge, he wrote to Muhammad Yusuf Najm at Franklin Books to see if there was anything he might translate for them in exchange for airfare for two to Beirut— the result was Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America in an Arabic edition;67 while in 1964, having returned to Beirut for good, Anis began a long-term project with Franklin Books to publish an Arabic-English dictionary, working alongside Ihsan ‘Abbas, Wadad al-Qadi, and the Palestinian short story writer Samira Azzam, championed by Kanafani for her resistant prose.

For Franklin, 1963 was a decisive year: Palestinian poet, novelist, and painter Jabra Ibrahim Jabra’s groundbreaking Arabic translation of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury appeared to broad acclaim. The novel would deeply influence Arabic literary production, and Kanafani explicitly acknowledged the impact that Faulkner’s modernist prose had on his own novels on Palestine, perhaps most evident in the disjunctive treatment of voice and time in All That’s Left to You and Returning to Haifa.68 In relation to the active promotion by the U.S. Department of State of Faulkner translations, critic Greg Barnhisel has argued for “experimental modernism as an expression and defense of the free societies of the west,” noting that “Faulkner [was] … almost certainly the most significant figure in the exportation of American modernism to the rest of the world.”69 Andrew Rubin in his study of the CCF points readers to the insight of critical theorist Fredric Jameson that Faulkner “in a distant and sometimes utterly marginal land, can suddenly open up new possibilities in a domestic situation in which such possibilities had hitherto been utterly unimaginable. We may say that the immense worldwide influence of Faulkner was of this kind, whose work suddenly showed writers all over the world that you could do something else with land, deep memory, defeat, and historical passion.”70 Indeed, you could culturally infiltrate world letters; or leverage “land, deep memory, defeat, and historical passion”71 into a global literature of resistance to that state of siege and psychological warfare.

“The Slap That Woke Me”

In 1959–60, the CCF was working to build their network in the Arab world as they prepared to publish the journal that would become Hiwar, in the fall of 1962, to be edited by avant-garde Palestinian poet Tawfiq Sayigh (who was also the proposed coeditor, alongside Jabra, of the failed attempt to put out a journal called Adab with Yusuf al-Khal).72 During this period, Anis Sayigh served as a CCF consultant in London73 and the organization’s eyes and ears in Beirut. When the CCF closed its first Beirut office in 1960, hoping to set up shop in Cairo, undercover CIA agent John Hunt wrote to Anis Sayigh, Cecil Hourani (advisor to President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, and brother of Albert Hourani), Johnson-Davies, and the Arab nationalist political theorist Constantine Zurayk with a request: “I hope you will let me know if anything concerning this change comes to your attention.”74 In addition to his work with Franklin, Anis also published three books through the CCF, editing an Arabic volume of the organization’s 1958 Rhodes conference, and translating into Arabic one of Boris Pasternak’s novels, as well as a volume by the Indian thinker Jayaprakash Narayan.75 These were just the sorts of projects the AAWA deemed “imperial infiltration” of Afro-Asian letters that the association sought to “resist” come 1967.76

Anis Sayigh’s path would repeatedly cross both in the CCF archive and on Hunt’s desk with none other than Koestler. Koestler was now working with the CCF on their Asian operations in the wake of the 1955 Bandung conference, the 1956 Suez War and ensuing nationalization of the canal, the 1957 meeting of the AAPSO in Cairo, and the first meeting in 1958 of the AAWA in Tashkent. When Hunt writes to Narayan in 1959 about the white book on Tibet that Anis will soon translate into Arabic as the CCF wages an influence campaign throughout Africa and Asia, he does so care of Koestler in London, expressing enthusiasm both “for the intrinsic interest of the book as well as for the future of [the] Afro-Asian committee on Tibet.”77 Eager to broadcast Narayan’s “ideas for a ‘new deal’ in India” to an Anglophone audience, Hunt writes Melvin Lasky, editor of the CCF’s Encounter magazine, that Koestler—who had been traveling to Japan and India and writing a series of pieces on yoga and Zen philosophy for Encounter—“comes to mind as the right author.”78 Koestler appears in this period as an observer on behalf of CCF operations in Asia, such that when Hunt plans his itinerary for his trip to London in November 1959, which will include a November 13 “soirée avec Denys Johnson-Davies et Anis (Tel. J. Davies WEL 4526),” it is circulated in advance to Koestler, though he doesn’t seem to have shown up.79

By the summer of 1966—with the global press awash in the scandal of the CIA’s role in the CCF, and his brother Tawfiq’s Hiwar regularly denounced in the Arabic press—Anis was faced with the loss of his livelihood following a liberation-minded lecture he delivered at the Arab Cultural Club in Beirut: it was, he relates, “the reaction of the funding organization [i.e. Franklin Books]” that was “the slap that woke me.”80 Franklin had issued a statement to all its offices worldwide, “warning that definitively and under no circumstances should anyone employed by the organization [Franklin Publishers] or in any of the projects linked financially or in content with it participate in any political or intellectual or cultural activity that deals with a debate-provoking political topic. And the notice requested that all employees in all countries in the world sign their names as committed to this decision and refrain from all activity that might ‘provoke sensitivities.’”81 Leaving Beirut for a spell in London, Anis received a telegram from his other brother, Fayez Sayigh, who headed the Research Center of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), requesting Anis’s urgent presence in Beirut for a meeting with Ahmad Shuqayri, then the chairman of the PLO, regarding plans for an Encyclopedia of Palestine. The psychological blitz of U.S. Cold War cultural infiltration had indeed threatened to “overwhelm” or “dissuade … [from] authentic Arabic literature that springs from the Arab hopes for liberation,” as Darwish had so presciently feared.82 In the village of Kayfun, overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean, in the garden of Shuqayri’s summer residence, the three would agree to Anis taking over the Palestine Research Center (PRC),83 starting on 7 August 1966; Anis would direct the PRC for the next ten years. One of the first texts the PRC published under his leadership was Kanafani’s Fi al-adab al-sahyuni (for which Anis wrote an introduction), with its numerous citations of Koestler’s Thieves in the Night, a theorization of the “weapon of literature.” As the Arab press everywhere was debating the fallout from the revelations of CIA funding of the CCF—and therefore of the journal Hiwar84—the July 1966 issue of Suhayl Idris’s Al-adab opened with the first chapter of Kanafani’s forthcoming book, Adab al-muqawamah fi Filastin al-muhtallah (Resistance literature in occupied Palestine).85 A Palestinian theorization of an anti-racist, anti-colonial, anti-Zionist literature of resistance, it offered a critique of the kind of psychological operations and cultural infiltration to be found at every turn, even in the inside back cover of this issue of Al-adab, where a full-page ad for Franklin Books materialized the Beirut press as a site of ongoing global cultural Cold War.


Research for this article was generously supported by Bard College and a postdoctoral fellowship of the Europe in the Middle East/Middle East in Europe (EUME) program at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. The article could not have been written without the help of archivists at the Institute for Palestine Studies (Beirut) and at the University of Chicago’s Special Collections archive of the International Association for Cultural Freedom.


1. Ghassan Kanafani, “Study from Palestine: Resistance Literature in Occupied Palestine,” Afro- Asian Writings 1, no. 2–3 (1968), pp. 65–79, quote on p. 66.

2. This phrase is from Ghassan Kanafani, Fi al-adab al-sahyuni (1967; repr., Beirut: Mu’assasat alabhath al-‘arabiyya, 1987), p. 11; the language of weaponry occurs throughout Kanafani’s essays and books on what he calls adab al-muqawama (resistance literature) or al-adab al-muqawim (resisting literature, that is, literature in an active state of resistance). All translations from the Arabic, unless otherwise noted, are the author’s.

3. Esmaeil Haddadian-Moghaddam, “The Cultural Cold War in the Middle East: William Faulkner and the Franklin Book Programs,” Translation and Interpreting Studies 15, no. 3 (1 October 2020): pp. 433–5.

4. Ghassan Kanafani, “Study from Palestine,” p. 66. Bashir Abu Manneh registers the ensuing geographical split in the Palestinian poetic terrain, where resistance poets in occupied Palestine are cut off from modernist poets influenced by U.S. cultural infiltration projects: “The 48 Palestinian remnant missed the boat of poetic experimentation and free verse that was all the rage in Beirut and Baghdad (as practiced by Palestinian exiles Jabra and Tawfiq Sayigh).” See Bashir Abu Manneh, The Palestinian Novel: From 1948 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. 76.

5. This article is part of a larger project comprising my forthcoming book, Imperious Plots: Cultural Infiltration and Arabic Literature in the Cold War. On the CCF in Beirut, see Holt, “‘Bread or Freedom’: The Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA, and the Arabic Literary Journal Hiwar (1962–67),” Journal of Arabic Literature 44, no. 1 (2013):; “Cold War in the Arabic Press: Hiwar (Beirut, 1962–67) and the Congress for Cultural Freedom,” in Campaigning Culture and the Global Cold War, ed. Giles Scott-Smith and Charlotte A. Lerg (New York: Palgrave, 2017); and “Cairo and the Cultural Cold War for Afro-Asia,” in Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties, ed. Chen Jian, Martin Klimke, Masha Kirasirova, et. al. (New York: Routledge, 2018); Robyn Creswell, Beirut, City of Beginnings: Poetic Modernism in Beirut (NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019); Anis Sayigh, Anis Sayigh ‘an Anis Sayigh (Beirut: Riad El-Rayyes, 2006); Mudhakkirat Tawfiq Sayigh bi-khatt yaddihi wa-huwa yasta’idd l-isdar majallat Hiwar: 7 Nisan–31 Tammuz 1962, Beirut - London - Baris - Beirut [Memoirs of Tawfiq Sayigh in his own handwriting as he was preparing to publish the journal Hiwar: 7 April–31 July 1962, Beirut-London-Paris-Beirut], ed. Mahmoud Shurayh (Beirut: Dar Nelson, 2011); Issa J. Boullata, “The Beleaguered Unicorn: A Study of Tawfìq Sayigh,” Journal of Arabic Literature 4, no. 1 (1973), pp. 69–93 (especially the first five pages): The Beirut scene of these years, culminating in Kanafani’s assassination, is captured in Rashid Khalidi’s most recent book, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2020).

6. See Reem Abou-El-Fadl, “Building Egypt’s Afro-Asian Hub: Infrastructures of Solidarity and the 1957 Cairo Conference,” in “Other Bandungs,” special issue, Journal of World History 30, no. 1–2 (June 2019): pp. 157–192,

7. See Rossen Djagalov, From Internationalism to Postcolonialism: Literature and Cinema between the Second and the Third Worlds (Quebec: McGill-Queens Press, 2020).

8. On “(non)alignment” and the AAWA, see Leah Feldman, “Global Souths: Toward a Materialist Poetics of Alignment,” Boundary 2 47, no. 2 (2020): p. 204, 8193326. See also, Afro-Asian Networks Research Collective, “Manifesto: Networks of Decolonization in Asia and Africa,” Radical History Review 131 (2018): pp. 176–82, https://doi. org/10.1215/01636545-4355317; and Cyrus Schayegh, “Switch-Cities, Decolonization, and Globalization: Singapore, Beirut, Dakar,” Afro-Asian Visions, 10 August 2017, https://medium. com/afro-asian-visions/switch-cities-decolonization-and-globalization-singapore-beirut-dakar- f913b2101599.

9. See the document appendices to the first issue of Afro-Asian Writings on the Afro-Asian Writers Association. I am relying on the Arabic version: “Mithaq: Rabitat al-kuttab al-afriqiyyin al-asiyawiyyin,” Al-adab al-afriqi al-asiyawi 1, no. 1 (March 1968): p. 149. On the history of the AAWA, Afro-Asian Writings and Lotus, see Hala Halim, “Lotus, the Afro-Asian Nexus, and Global South Comparatism,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 32, no. 3 (2012): pp. 565–67,; and Djagalov, From Internationalism.

10. Lowell H. Schwartz, Todd C. Helmus, Dalia Dassa Kaye, et al., Barriers to the Broad Dissemination of Creative Works in the Arab World (Pittsburgh, PA: Rand Corporation, 2009). See also Lowell H. Schwartz, Political Warfare Against the Kremlin: US and British Propaganda Policy at the Beginning of the Cold War (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), especially chap. 6, “American Cold War Propaganda Efforts during the First Eisenhower Administration,” and chap. 7, “Cultural Infiltration: A New Propaganda Strategy for a New Era of Soviet-West Relations.”

11. See Halim, “Lotus, the Afro-Asian Nexus” and Djagalov, From Internationalism.

12. Kanafani, “Study from Palestine,” pp. 65–79. There is a footnote to the title on p. 65: “This report was submitted as a document of the Third Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Conference, Beirut, March 1967. Data cited are related to the situation prior to the Israeli aggression in June 1967.”

13. Maha Nassar has written extensively on these connections, particularly with respect to Palestinian writers within Israel, and solidarity with the anti-Vietnam War and Black rights movements in the United States. See Maha Nassar, Brothers Apart: Palestinian Citizens of Israel and the Arab World (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017); “‘My Struggle Embraces Every Struggle’: Palestinians in Israel and Solidarity with Afro-Asian Liberation Movements,” Arab Studies Journal 22, no. 1 (Spring 2014): pp. 74–101,; and more recently, “Palestinian Engagement with the Black Freedom Movement prior to 1967,” in “Black-Palestinian Transnational Solidarity,” special issue, JPS 48, no. 4 (Summer 2019): pp. 17–32,

14. See my forthcoming article: Elizabeth M. Holt, “Specters of Mao,” in “New Directions in Global South Studies,” special issue, ed. Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra and Anne Garland Mahler, Comparative Literature Studies.

15. Ghassan Kanafani, Fi al-adab al-sahyuni (Beirut: Palestine Research Center, 1967; Cyprus, Rimal Publications, 2015). Kanafani is in conversation with the work of literary critics as well, citing studies of Jewish and Zionist literature by scholars including Leah Goldberg, Mordecai Kaplan, Dove Sadan, Haim Greenberg, David Bakan, Reuben Wallenrod, Elmer Berger, Menachem Ribalow, and Edgar Rosenberg.

16. Ghassan Kanafani, “Al-’irq wa-l-din fi al-adab al-sahyuni” [Race and religion in Zionist literature], Filastin 11 (25 March 1965); and Kanafani, “Al-‘Arab fil-adab al-sahyuni” [Arabs in Zionist literature], Filastin 12 (5 April 1965).

17. Kanafani, Fi al-adab al-sahyuni, p. 158.

18. See Radwa Ashour, Al-Tariq ila al-khayma al-ukhra: Dirasa fi a‘mal Ghassan Kanafani (‘Akka: Dar al-aswar, 1977). For other Arabic-language studies that compare Kanafani and Faulkner, see: ‘Adil al-Usta, “Ta’thir al-riwaya al-gharbiyya fil-riwaya al-filastiniyya: Muqarana ula” (an unpublished paper that overlaps with the talk the author delivered at the panel discussion of Kanafani on 14 July 2012 in Nablus, part of a festival commemorating Kanafani on the fortieth anniversary of his assassination); see also “Khilal nadwa nazzamaha al-muntada al-tanwiri fi Nablus,” Al-hayat al-jadida,; ‘Izz al-Din al-Munasira, Al-muthaqafa wa-l-naqd al-muqarin: Manzur ishkali (Beirut: Al-mu’assasa al-’arabiyya lil-dirasat wa-l-nashr, 1995); Fayha ‘Abd al-Hadi, Ghassan Kanafani: Al-riwaya wa-l-qissa al-qasira (Jerusalem: Al-jam‘iya al-filastiniyya al-akadimiyya lil-shu’un al-dawliyya, 1990); Fadl al-Naqib, Hakadha tantahi al-qissas, hakadha tabda’: Intiba’at shakhsiyya ‘an hayat Ghassan Kanafani wa-Basil al-Kabisi [So stories end, so they begin: Personal impressions from the lives of Ghassan Kanafani and Basil al-Kabisi] (Jerusalem: Mu’assasat Wisam lil-tiba‘ah wal-nashr, 1988); Habib Boulos, “Nuqat al-iltiqa’ wal-ibti’ad/al-tashabuh wal-takhaluf bayna riwayat Alsakhab wal-‘unf li-Faulkner wa-riwayat Ma tabaqqa lakum li-Ghassan Kanafani,” Al-hiwar al-mutamaddin, 7 May 2010,

19. ‘Adil al-Usta, “Ta’thir al-riwaya al-gharbiyya fi al-riwaya al-filastiniyya.” On Russian literary influences on Palestinian literary production, see also Nassar, Brothers Apart; and Spencer Scoville, “Reconsidering Nahdawi Translation: Bringing Pushkin to Palestine,” The Translator 21, no. 2 (2015): pp. 223–36, Margaret Litvin’s work on Arab students studying in the USSR, and her larger ongoing project on Soviet Cold War interventions in Arabic thought, literature, and film, offer further context. See especially her recent translation of Sonallah Ibrahim’s Ice (London: Seagull Books, 2019); and “Fellow Travelers? Two Arab Study Abroad Narratives of Moscow,” in Roberta Micallef, ed., Illusion and Disillusionment: Travel Writing in the Modern Age (Boston, MA: ILEX Books, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2018).

20. Fayiz Rashid, “Ghassan Kanafani khatta bi-dammihi adab muqawamatina,” Al-watan, 6 July 2017.

21. Fadil ‘Abbas Hadi, “Qadiyat Filastin . . . wa-l-riwaya al-‘arabiyya al-mu ‘asira,” [The question of Palestine . . . and the contemporary Arabic novel] Al-hadaf 156 (1 July 1972): p. 15.

22. Walid Khalidi, “The Fall of Haifa Revisited,” JPS 37, no. 3 (Spring 2008): p. 48, https://doi. org/10.1525/jps.2008.37.3.30. The original version of this article appeared as Walid Khalidi, “The Fall of Haifa,” Middle East Forum (December 1959).

23. Walid Khalidi, “Hawla mawaqif al-Gharb min al-qadiyya al-filastiniyya,” Hiwar 9 (1964): p. 11.

24. Jean Franco, The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City: Latin America in the Cold War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 32.

25. Unsi al-Hajj, “The Issue of the Journal Hiwar” [in Arabic], Mulhaq al-nahar, 12 June 1966, p. 19. Quoted in Holt, “‘Bread or Freedom.’”

26. Ghassan Kanafani, Maqalat Faris Faris: Kitabat sakhira, ed. Muhammad Dakroub (Beirut: Dar al-Adab, 1996), p. 92.

27. Kanafani, Maqalat Faris Faris, p. 93.

28. Kanafani, Maqalat Faris Faris, p. 93.

29. Susie Linfield, “Arthur Koestler: The Zionist as Anti-Semite,” in The Lion’s Den: Zionism and the Left, from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019); and Louis A. Gordon, “Arthur Koestler and His Ties to Zionism and Jabotinsky,” Studies in Zionism 12, no. 2 (1991): pp. 149–68,

30. Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Richard Wright, André Gide, Louis Fischer, and Stephen Spender, The God that Failed: A Confession, ed. Richard Crossman, (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1949), pp. 21–22.

31. Koestler, The God That Failed, 36.

32. Arthur Koestler, Thieves in the Night: Chronicle of an Experiment (London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1946), p. 145.

33. Koestler, Thieves, p. 242.

34. Koestler, Thieves, p. 292

35. Koestler, Thieves, p. 24.

36. Koestler, Thieves, p. 3.

37. Koestler, Thieves, p. 167.

38. Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories, trans. Hilary Kilpatrick (London: Three Continents Press, 1983), p. 9.

39. Frank L. Goldstein and Benjamin F. Findley, Psychological Operations: Principles and Case Studies (Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press, 1996), p. 4.

40. See Greg Barnhisel, Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), p. 142.

41. Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper?: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta, 2000), p. 90.

42. Saunders, Who Paid the Piper?, p. 59.

43. See, for instance, George Kateb, “The Road to 1984,” Political Science Quarterly 81, no. 4 (1966): pp. 569–70,

44. Michael Scammell, “A Discovery in the Moscow Archives: Arthur Koestler Resigns,” New Republic, 4 May 1998, p. 28.

45. Michael Scammel, “A Different ‘Darkness at Noon,’” New York Review of Books, 7 April 2016,

46. Martine Poulain, “A Cold War Best-Seller: The Reaction to Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon in France from 1945 to 1950,” Libraries and Culture 36, no. 1 (Winter 2001): p. 173, https://doi. org/10.1353/lac.2001.0016.

47. Poulain, “A Cold-War Best-Seller,” p. 174.

48. Poulain, “A Cold-War Best-Seller,” p. 172.

49. Poulain, “A Cold-War Best-Seller,” p. 175.

50. Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon, trans. Daphne Hardy (1940; repr., London: Vintage, 1994), p. 31.

51. Scammell, “A Discovery,” p. 30.

52. Koestler, Darkness, pp. 40–41.

53. Koestler, Darkness, p. 70.

54. Koestler, Darkness, pp. 52–53.

55. See the cover of and photo insert in Peter Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Struggle for the Mind of Postwar Europe (New York: The Free Press, 1989).

56. Michael Scammel, Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic (New York: Random House, 2009), p. 358. See also Barnhisel, Cold War Modernists, p. 142.

57. Saunders, Who Paid the Piper?, p. 57.

58. See Appendix A of Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy, pp. 249–51.

59. Saunders, Who Paid the Piper?, p. 4. Emphasis in original.

60. Shurayh, ed., Mudhakkirat Tawfiq Sayigh, p. 64.

61. As quoted in Maha Nassar, “Looking Out, Cheering On: Global Leftist Vocabularies among Palestinian Citizens of Israel,” in The Global 1960s: Conventions, Contest and Countercultures, ed. Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney and Tamara Chaplin (London: Routledge, 2017), p. 261.

62. On Franklin Books, see Amanda Laugesen, “Books for the World: American Book Programs in the Developing World, 1948–68,” in Pressing the Fight: Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War, ed. Greg Barnhisel and Catherine Turner (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2014); and Louise S. Robbins, “Publishing American Values: The Franklin Book Programs as Cold War Cultural Diplomacy,” Library Trends, Volume 55, no. 3 (Winter 2007): pp. 638–50, https://doi. org/10.1353/lib.2007.0022. See also Barnhisel, Cold War Modernists, pp. 102, 278, and Creswell, City of Beginnings, pp. 41, 47. On al-Sayyab, see Elliott Colla, “Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, Cold War Poet,” Middle Eastern Literatures 18, no. 3 (2015): pp. 247–63, 2X.2016.1199093. In addition to Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, Tawfiq Sayigh, Anis Sayigh, Samira Azzam, Wadad al-Qadi, and Ihsan Abbas, the guide to the Franklin Book Programs archive, held at Princeton University Library Special Collections in the Seeley G. Mudd Library’s Public Policy Papers, mentions several other prominent Arab intellectuals who were also working with the CCF, including Lewis Awad, Ibrahim Bayoumi Madkour, and Jamal Ahmed. One notes also that their administrative records [Series 2: Administrative Records, 1952–78; Subseries 1: New York Office Records 1952–78; and Subseries 3: Country Files, 1952- 78] include correspondence with ARAMCO.

63. Haddadian-Moghaddam, “Faulkner and Franklin,” pp. 3–5.

64. Robbins, “Publishing American Values,” p. 639.

65. Consider Najati Sidqi, “I Went to Defend Jerusalem in Cordoba: Memoirs of a Palestinian Communist in the Spanish International Brigades,” Jerusalem Quarterly 62 (Spring 2015): pp. 102–9.

66. See Creswell, City of Beginnings, p. 47.

67. Sayigh, Anis Sayigh, p. 174.

68. Tawfiq Yousef, “The Reception of William Faulkner in the Arab World,” American Studies International 33, no. 2 (October 1995): Reading from Kanafani’s diary, Bashir Abu Manneh recounts Kanafani’s hallucinatory encounter with Faulkner as he completed All That’s Left to You: “Last night I finished writing my new novel, and when I lay the pen down and got up to leave the room, something strange happened. Willy Faulkner was standing there shaking my hand in congratulation.” Quoted in Bashir Abu Manneh, The Palestinian Novel: From 1948 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. 81.

69. Barnhisel, Cold War Modernists, p. 125. Barnhisel makes no mention of Faulkner in Arabic. 70. Andrew Rubin quoting Fredric Jameson. See Rubin, Archives of Authority: Empire, Culture, and the Cold War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), p. 66; and Fredric Jameson, “New Literary History after the End of the New,” New Literary History 39, no. 3 (July 2008): p. 379, 71. Rubin, Archives of Authority.

72. Letter dated 18 January 1962, from John Hunt to Jamal Ahmed, box 165, folder 4, Series II: Correspondence and Subject Files, Subseries I: Correspondence and Subject Files, 1948–67, Subsubseries 8: “H,” IACF.

73. Sayigh, Anis Sayigh, p. 174.

74. Letter dated 5 February 1960 from John Hunt to Anis Sayigh, Cecil Hourani, Denys Johnson- Davies, and Constantine Zurayk, box 164, folder 1, Series II: Correspondence and Subject Files, Subseries I: Correspondence and Subject Files, 1948–67, Subsubseries 8: “H,” IACF. 75. Sayigh, Anis Sayigh, p. 175.

76. “Mithaq: Rabitat al-kuttab al-afriqiyyin al-asiyawiyyin,” p. 149; on “resistance,” see n2 above; the AAWA here adopts the same verb, qawama.

77. Letter dated 3 December 1959, from John Hunt to Jayaprakash Narayan c/o Arthur Koestler, box 163, folder 10, Series II: Correspondence and Subject Files, Subseries I: Correspondence and Subject Files, 1948–67, Sub-subseries 8: “H,” IACF.

78. Letter dated 11 December 1959, from John Hunt to Melvin Lasky, box 163, folder 10, Series II: Correspondence and Subject Files, Subseries I: Correspondence and Subject Files, 1948–67, Sub-subseries 8: “H,” IACF.

79. Itinerary, dated 9 November 1959, for John Hunt in London to multiple recipients (in French), box 163, folder 10, Series II: Correspondence and Subject Files, Subseries I: Correspondence and Subject Files, 1948–67, Sub-subseries 8: “H,” IACF.

80. Sayigh, Anis Sayigh, p. 184.

81. Sayigh, Anis Sayigh, p. 183.

82. As quoted in Nassar, “Looking Out,” p. 261.

83. Sayigh, Anis Sayigh, pp. 185–86.

84. Holt, “‘Bread or Freedom.’”

85. Ghassan Kanafani, “Adab al-muqawama fi Filastin al-muhtalla,” Al-adab 14, no. 7 (July 1966): pp. 1–3, 65–71.

Author biography: 

Elizabeth M. Holt is associate professor of Arabic at Bard College, where she codirects the Middle Eastern Studies Program. She is the author of Fictitious Capital: Silk, Cotton, and the Rise of the Arabic Novel (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017). This essay is part of her forthcoming book, Imperious Plots: Cultural Infiltration and Arabic Literature in the Cold War.

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