“In the Hour of Arab Revolution” Tricontinental and the Question of Palestine
1st prize winner of the Friends of Fondren Library Graduate Research Awards, 2015
This essay seeks to challenge the absence of the Arab world within the emerging literature on “the Global Cold War,” which considers the Arab-Israeli conflict and thus Arab history to be driven by exceptional circumstances. In order to demonstrate the connections between Arab politics and other decolonizing contexts, I look at the ideological work undertaken to forge the Palestinian cause into a Third World principle outside of the Arab world. This paper examines the coverage of the question of Palestine in the Cuban revolutionary journal Tricontinental between the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973. While the June 1967 war is traditionally understood as merely an Arab defeat, I show that many anticolonial and leftist revolutionaries around the world understood the June 1967 war as a reverse for the Third World project as a whole. The conflict was portrayed as an important scene in a global struggle between Western capitalist imperialism and colonialism, on the one hand, and anticolonial revolutionary nationalism and communism, on the other. Tricontinental recorded the journeys of Cuban journalists to fida’i (guerrilla) training camps in Jordan and Syria, the travels of Palestinians to the revolutionary Caribbean capital, and exposed the material links between counterrevolutionary forces in a number of colonial situations. Tricontinental’s coverage consistently transcended ideological platitudes and boilerplate comparisons, though these were indeed also present. Through close readings of selected articles, we can begin to see the potential of using this journal as a major source in the history of transnational circulation of ideas, personalities, and movements during the second half of the twentieth century.
US Cultural History