Vol.9, No.1 | [Article] Henri Curiel: A Jewish Egyptian Dedicated to Peace and Socialism



This paper studies the life and times of Henri Curiel, a Jewish Egyptian
who led the creation and development of the communist movement in Egypt in
the twentieth century. Curiel was of such importance in Egypt that he is still
remembered there today, despite the polarization between Arabs and Jews over
the Palestine Question and the state of Israel, and despite Curiel’s deportation in
1950 and his assassination at the hands of unknown killers, in France, a full
quarter of a century later, in 1978.
The paper traces Curiel’s origins to Spain, where his family was driven out
by the Inquisition, moving to Italy, and later to Egypt in the early 1800s. This
paper explores Curiel’s personal motives in Egyptianizing himself, despite
belonging to a wealthy Jewish merchant family, and in becoming a top Marxist
mass-organizer, despite coming from a small minority and speaking Arabic
very poorly. It studies his character, from his charisma to his controlling
tendency to dominate all groups in which he was active.
Finally, the paper reviews the Arabic writings of others about Curiel,
especially his contemporaries’ writings on his Egyptian activities, also
including his subsequent decades as an international anti-colonialist
revolutionary. Drawing on the author’s unique Japanese perspective, the paper
also includes a most insightful look at Curiel, the internationalist, as seen
through the eyes of a visiting Japanese peace activist, who sought his aid from
the other side of the globe.