Palestine Comes to Paris: The Global Sixties and the Making of a Universal Cause
New Arab left
transnational networks
student activism
Palestinian cause
global sixties

In the early 1960s, Israeli diplomats based in Paris noted that student life there had become political in new ways that threatened to undermine Israel’s image and standing in the public mind. In an effort to understand the growing international student body and its nine thousand wellintegrated Arab students, the embassy asked Israeli students to spy on their colleagues and submit detailed reports about their political associations, thoughts, opinions, connections, whereabouts, and much else. Using the reports and other auxiliary material that the Israeli diplomats collected, this article examines the formation process of a unique, student-led intellectual and political ecosystem. Specifically, it shows how, in tandem with the rise of the New Arab Left and other transnational student collaborations, the Palestinian question grew from a marginal and marginalized issue to a major cause that was deeply entwined with other contemporaneous causes of universal resonance, such as those of South Africa, Rhodesia, and Algeria.

Author biography: 

Yoav Di-Capua teaches modern Arab intellectual history at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Gatekeepers of the Arab Past: Historians and History Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009) and of No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Decolonization (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018). He is currently working on a book about political theology and the 1960s generation.

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