A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Two-Month Late Remembrance of Eric Rouleau (1926-2015)

Nasser and Rouleau, 1963
First, apologies for being late to this: I should follow the French press more closely. I've belatedly learned that the great journalist and diplomat Eric Rouleau died on February 25. He was unquestionably the greatest French journalist on the Middle East of his generation as the Middle East correspondent for Le Monde for several decades, and later served as France's Ambassador first to Tunisia and then to Turkey.

I previously wrote about him in 2012, when the Cairo Review of International Affairs published an excerpt in English from his memoirs. AUC has since published the translation of his French memoirs as Cairo: a Memoir. I believe the French version covers his whole career: Dans les coulisses du Proche-Orient: Mémoires d’un journaliste diplomate.

His background explains a lot. He was born in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis in 1926 as Elie Raffoul, to a family of Egypt's once-flourishing Jewish community. Like many Egyptian Jews of the era he also had Communist affiliations and was expelled in 1951. He made a journalistic career in France under the name Eric Rouleau. Though Jewish he was a sympathizer of the Palestinian cause and in 1963 was granted an interview with Nasser.

I only met him once at a reception somewhere (in DC I think) and heard him speak a few times, but I read him often. One of the truly great journalists who also had an afterlife as a diplomat, I regret that I am so late learning of his passing.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

A very wise man. He saw the weak points in U.S. policy and had a kind way of describing them. I once had dinner with him and an outspoken American scholar from a pro-Israel think tank. Rouleau was unfailingly polite, even when speaking to people who were rude or stupid.