Outrageous, inescapable? Debating historical analogies in the coverage of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Jerome Bourdon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the debate that has surrounded the use of analogies in coverage of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, analyzing in depth two ‘analogy affairs’ on the basis of a LexisNexis corpus: the 2002 Auschwitz-Saramago affair (64 items) and the 2006–2007 Apartheid-Carter affair (154 items). Using the classic Aristotelian tripartition of logos, ethos, and pathos, the article unfolds the argumentative structure of the controversies. Carter and Saramago used the combination of their own personal status and the controversial nature of their analogies to trigger a debate. Commentators focused very much on the ethos (arguments around the authority and the character of the authors) and the pathos, and tended to ignore the logos (the factual relevance of the analogy). Opponents, who made up the majority of commentators, considered analogies as a way of passing judgment on and mobilizing against one of the actors in the conflict (Israel in our cases). This analysis suggests that despite the call for a more cautious use of (or even a prohibition of) the analogies discussed, participants in the debate on the Israeli–Palestinian conflicts are bound to resort to them – even if only to condemn them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-422
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse and Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 28 Aug 2015


  • Apartheid
  • Auschwitz
  • Carter
  • Israeli–Palestinian conflict
  • Saramago
  • Shoah
  • argumentation
  • discourse analysis
  • historical analogy
  • press analysis
  • public controversy
  • rhetoric


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