Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture, 1893-1958

Overview

This volume opens the canon of modern Jewish thought to the vibrant and compelling—yet all too often overlooked—writings of Jews from the Arab East, from the close of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth. Whether they identified as Sephardim, Mizrahim, anticolonialists, or Zionists, these thinkers engaged the fundamental challenges and transformations of Middle Eastern Jewry in this decisive period.

In an illuminating and provocative introduction, Moshe Behar ...

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Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture, 1893-1958

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Overview

This volume opens the canon of modern Jewish thought to the vibrant and compelling—yet all too often overlooked—writings of Jews from the Arab East, from the close of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth. Whether they identified as Sephardim, Mizrahim, anticolonialists, or Zionists, these thinkers engaged the fundamental challenges and transformations of Middle Eastern Jewry in this decisive period.

In an illuminating and provocative introduction, Moshe Behar and Zvi Ben-Dor Benite present Jewish culture and politics situated within overlapping Arabic, Islamic, and colonial contexts. They invite the reader to reconsider contemporary invocations of Levantine, Mizrahi, and Arab Jewish identities against the backdrop of earlier generations of Middle Eastern Jewish intellectuals who critically assessed or contested the implications of Western presence and Western Jewish presence in the Middle East, religion and secularization, and the rise of nationalism, communism, and Zionism, as well as the creation and meaning of the State of Israel.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The intellectual history of eastern Sephardim of the Arab Mediterranean and Levant in modern times (end of nineteenth to mid-twentieth century) remains largely terra incognita (except through literary writings) even in Sephardic and more recent Mizrahi studies. . . . The editors begin to remedy this deficit with an anthology of original writings (mostly translated from Arabic), by distinguished Jewish men and women of culture who were equally at home in Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus or Jerusalem/Palestine, offering a potentially distinct contribution to modern Jewish thought.”—Sephardic Horizons

“The views of Sephardi and Mizrahi intellectuals on political, religious, cultural, and social issues are often missing in discussions regarding modern Jewish thought. In order to overcome this deficiency, Behar and Ben-Dor Benite chose samples from the writings of nineteen Jews (including two women) from the Arab East, written during 1893-1958 in Hebrew, English, French and Arabic (all provided in English) in order to familiarize scholars, students and interested readers in the diversity of opinion among Sephardim and Mizrahim. . . . Presenting the views of these thinkers is an important contribution to the field of modern Jewish thought in general and to Sephardi and Mizrahi studies in particular.”—Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

"This anthology is a remarkable achievement and an outstanding selection of original texts written by important Jewish intellectuals in the modern period. The editors, Moshe Behar and Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, look at Jewish writers from the Middle East as intellectuals, social critics, and political theorists, and not simply as chroniclers of the sociopolitical changes occurring in their societies. Sharing a wide range of approaches to politics and culture (liberalism, communism, nationalism), and selecting authors who defined themselves as Mizrahi, Sephardic, and Arab-Jewish, as well as Zionist, the editors have created a rich text that could be taught in classes about modernity and political thought, modern Jewish history, and Middle Eastern history." —H-Net

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Product Details

Meet the Author

MOSHE BEHAR is Pears Senior Lecturer in Israeli and Middle Eastern Studies at University of Manchester. ZVI BEN-DOR BENITE is professor of history and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at New York University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Acknowledgments Editors' Note Introduction: Mizrahi and Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought, Present and Past East and West Some Teachings of the Koran Transvaal's Exemplary Rebels The Korean Ottoman Imperial Schools My Last Dream John Bull and the Egyptian Student My Poor Eyes Letter to Philip Tarrazi Address at the American College for Girls in Beirut Our Renaissance The War for Our Nation Our Status in the Country, or the Question of Learning Arabic Angels of Peace A Speech in teh Celebration of My Jubilee On Solidarity and on Diversity European Culture in the East On the Question of All Questions in the Settling of the Land Letter to Chayyim Weizmann A Proposal Concerning the Question of Understanding and Reaching an Agreement with the Arabs of the Land of Israel A Jew of Palestine before the Royal Commission Jews and Arabs Evidence Given to Palestine's Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, Which Visited Baghdad Zionism against Arabs and Jews Last Letter Anti-Zionism for the Sake of Jews and the Sake of Egypt Egyptian Communists and the Jewish Question What Ought to Be the First Official Message from the DMNL to the Israeli Communist Party?
Some Clarifications on "Social Democracy"
The Newly Arrived Men of Letters Bridge to the Oriental Immigrants A Call for Deepening "The Mizrahi Consciousness" among Us From Ingathering to Integration: The Communal Problem in Israel Publication Credits Index

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