Last nights at the Holiday Inn
Litterature, art and contemporary world: narratives, history, memory
Colloquium papers, 16-17 May 2014
edited by Nayla Tamraz
Presses de l'Université Saint-Joseph
ISBN 978-614-8019-08-1

Dernières nuits au Holiday Inn
Littérature, art et monde contemporain: récits, histoire, mémoire
Actes du Colloque du 16 et 17 Mai 2014
sous la direction de Nayla Tamraz
Presses de l'Université Saint-Joseph
ISBN 978-614-8019-08-1

Publication page on USJ website

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“It offers lingering visitors luxurious furnished apartments with a lovely sea view, right in the middle of the best hotels. Under the same roof, anyone who chooses to do so can live, indulge in business, exercise a profession, get supplies, eat, drink and enjoy himself. A dream come true. In grim contrast to its publicity brochures, Beirut's 26-floor Holiday Inn last week was more a nightmare than a dream come true.” (1)

On March 21, 1976, after heavy shelling that started at night, squadrons from the “Mourabitoun”, the “Lebanese Arab Army” and other organizations captured the Holiday Inn. The high-rise hotel had been occupied by the Phalange when combats started in the hotels district in October 1975. On the following day, Christian militiamen struggled to take back their former citadel. A desperate attempt that revealed to be unsuccessful.

For the Lebanese Left and their Palestinians allies, the assault was a victory over “isolationist” and “imperialist” forces. At the contrary, the defeated Phalanges considered the event as an act of heroism of their isolated defenders. Last, the residents of Ain el Mraysseh neighborhood rejoiced of the end of the deadly sniping from the tower’s top floors.

The Holiday Inn attack is a milestone in the narratives of the Lebanese War. From the time of happening, it has been subject to various and contradictory versions and generated tales that incorporated collective memory and trauma. Based on archive, testimonies and artistic and literary works, this presentation doesn’t pretend to offer the definitive truth. It rather apprehends a specific historical moment and its interpretations through oral, written and visual approaches.

(1) Karsten Prager, "Beirut’s Agony Under the Guns of March", Time 107, no 14 (5 April 1976): 31.

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