Ilan Halevi

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Ilan Halevi
Georges Alain Albert

(1943-10-12)12 October 1943
Died10 July 2013(2013-07-10) (aged 69)
Other namesAlain Albert
OccupationJournalist, activist, politician, writer

Ilan Halevi Arabic: إيلان هاليفي‎; Hebrew: אִילָן הַלֵּוִי; born Georges Alain Albert in France; 12 October 1943 – 10 July 2013)[1] was a Jewish Palestinian journalist and politician, and one of the very few high-ranking Jewish members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). He was also a novelist.


He was born to a Jewish family in Lyon, France, in 1943, "under a false name ... in a post-office that was a Resistance hide-out", as his older brother Marc Albert has confirmed.[2] After the death of their father Henri Levin, his mother Blanche married Emile Albert and he adopted her children.[2] (Some sources mistakenly state that his father was a Yemeni Jew whose family had settled in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 20th century;[3] according to Halevi's brother Marc, when Halevi went to Israel "he obtained a passport with the testimony of a Yemenite residing there – the reason that this origin is sometimes given as his.")[2]

In the early 1960s he had work published in the literary journals Les Temps modernes and Présence Africaine. His first novel, The Crossing, published in 1964[2] was favourably reviewed, described by Lillian Smith in The Saturday Review as "a brilliant, mind-smacking account of a young man's journey from nowhere to hell....a fresh way of looking at the multileveled agony of the walled-in young."[4]

In 1965, at the age of 22, Halevi moved to Israel.[5] He is quoted as having said: "I came to Israel because in Algeria I discovered the importance of the Palestinian problem. I sat there in coffee houses, I heard people, I spoke with intellectuals and I understood that the Palestinian question preoccupies the people of the Arab world. It is really in the center of their obsessions. I decided I want to study this reality up close and from the inside…I wanted to study the Israeli reality."[6] Halevi joined the Palestinian resistance movement and Fatah in particular after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war,[1] and subsequently became a prominent member of the PLO. He was the PLO's representative in Europe and to the Socialist International, former PLO vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, and participated in that capacity in the Madrid Conference of 1991. He was also a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, elected in 2009,[7] and served as an adviser to Yasser Arafat.[8][9]

According to Hanan Ashrawi (in This Side of Peace), in the early 1970s, Halevi was a member of Ma'avak (Struggle), a "small, radical Israeli anti-Zionist group". In the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and subsequent shift of Palestinian activism into the Occupied Territories, he switched his activity to groups which included Israelis and Palestinians working together against the occupation, and helped secure permission for Bashir Barghouti, a Palestinian activist and member of the Jordanian Communist Party's governing council, to return to the West Bank.

Halevi was a critic of Zionism, and wrote several books on the subject. He was a founding member of the Revue des Études Palestiniennes (Palestinian Studies Review) in 1981. Halevi lived in Paris and the West Bank, and described himself as "100% Jewish and 100% Arab."[10]

He was awarded the Medal of Distinction for his role in support of the Palestinian struggle by President Mahmoud Abbas.[1]

Halevi died in Clichy on 10 July 2013 at the age of 69.[11][12][13] His funeral took place in Paris at the crematorium of Père Lachaise Cemetery.[14]


  • Alain Albert, The Crossing (novel), New York: George Braziller, 1964; London: Heinemann, 1965. French trans. by Georges Levin as La traversée, Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1965.
  • Sous Israël, la Palestine, Paris: Le Sycomore, 1978; Minerve, 1987.
  • Israël, de la terreur au massacre d'Etat, Paris: Papyrus, 1984.
  • Question juive: la tribu, la loi, l'espace, Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1981. Translated into English by A. M. Berrett as A History of the Jews: Ancient and Modern, London: Zed Books, 1987. Published in German as Auf der Suche nach dem gelobten Land: Die Geschichte der Juden und der Palastma-Konflikt, Hamburg: Junius, 1986. Reissued as Jewish Question: Tribe, Law and Space, Syllepse Editions, 2016.[15]
  • Face à la guerre. Lettre de Ramallah, Paris: Sindbad/Actes Sud, 2003.[16]
  • Allers-retours, Paris: Flammarion, 2005.[17] A semi-autobiographical novel critical of Israel and its policies toward the Palestinians.
  • Du souvenir, du mensonge et de l'oubli: Chroniques palestiniennes. Paris: Actes Sud, 2016. ISBN 978-2-330-07057-1[18]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Palestine News & Info Agency - WAFA - Ilan Halevy, Jewish member of Fatah, Dead at 70". Archived from the original on 28 October 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Margaret Busby, "Ilan Halevi: Jewish author, journalist and politician who rose to prominence in the PLO" (obituary), The Independent, 25 July 2013.
  3. ^ Anne Brunswic, Welcome To Palestine: Chronicles of a Season In Ramallah, Translated by Kenneth Casler, 2008, p. 159. Actes Sud, 2004.
  4. ^ Lillian Smith, "From Nowhere to the End of Night", The Saturday Review, 4 April 1964, pp. 39–40.
  5. ^ According to his brother Marc Albert, in the Independent obituary: "When he went to Israel, he obtained a passport with the testimony of a Yemenite residing there – the reason that this origin is sometimes given as his."
  6. ^ Ofer Aderet, "Ilan Halevi, Jewish member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, dies in Paris", Haaretz, 10 July 2013, quoting Nitza Erel in Matzpen – Conscience and Fantasy (2010).
  7. ^ Elhanan Miller, "Palestinians: Yes to Jews, no to settlers in our state", The Times of Israel, 27 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Arafat's Jewish-Palestinian adviser passes away", Ynetnews, 10 July 2013.
  9. ^ United Nations International NGO Meeting and European NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine, Palais des Nations, Geneva, 29 August-1 September 1994.
  10. ^ Marina da Silva, "Aller retours" review, Le Monde Diplomatique, July 2005, p. 26.
  11. ^ Denis Sieffert, "La mort d’Ilan Halevi",, 10 July 2013.
  12. ^ Emmanuel Riondé, "La mort d’Ilan Halevi - Disparition d’une grande figure du mouvement national palestinien",, 11 July 2013.
  13. ^ Jean-Pierre Perrin, "Ilan Halevi, l'âme en paix", Libération, 10 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Repose en Paix cher Ilan Halevi", Journal de zine BENSRHIR, 14 July 2013.
  15. ^ Michel Warschawski, "Ilan Halevi: In memoriam", AIC, 14 October 2016.
  16. ^ Face à la guerre page at Actes Sud.
  17. ^ Francois Feugas, "Allers Retours" (review), Association France Palestine Solidarité, 22 August 2005.
  18. ^ Du souvenir, du mensonge et de l'oubli: Chroniques palestiniennes page at Actes Sud.

External links[edit]