On a recent trip to Egypt, Cairo-born Alain Gresh, former editor in chief of Le Monde diplomatique, author of the foreword to Truths and Lies in the Middle East: Memoirs of a Veteran Journalist, 1952–2012 by Eric Rouleau (AUC Press, 2019), gave a talk about “the fantastic career” of his friend Rouleau, “the best-known French and international journalist in the Middle East.”
A young Egyptian Jew, Rouleau was exiled from Egypt in late 1951, shortly after the Free Officers coup, and moved to France. He rose to become one of the most celebrated journalists of his generation, writing for Agence France-Presse and later, Le Monde, the leading French daily. In 1963, he was invited by Gamal Abd al-Nasser to interview him in Cairo.
“[Rouleau] had a very strong personal relation with Nasser. And of course the fact that he spoke fluent Egyptian Arabic played a very important role,” explained Gresh, currently editor of the daily online newspaper OrientXXI.info.
Writing between Cairo and Jerusalem, Rouleau was a chief witness to the wars of 1967 and 1973, narrating their events from behind the scenes. He was to meet all the major players, including Nasser, Levi Ashkol, Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, and Anwar Sadat, painting striking portraits of each.