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Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought
Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture, 1893–1958
Moshe Behar, ed.; Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, ed.

Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry
The Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought
Brandeis University Press
2013 • 272 pp. 6 x 9"
Jewish Studies / Middle East Studies

$27.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-885-6
$85.00 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-884-9

$25.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-386-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Cloth edition is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

“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 first anthology of modern Middle Eastern Jewish thought

This volume opens the canon of modern Jewish thought to the 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 challenges and transformations of Middle Eastern Jewry in this decisive period.

Moshe Behar and Zvi Ben-Dor Benite present Jewish culture and politics situated within overlapping Arabic, Islamic, and colonial contexts. The editors invite the reader to reconsider contemporary evocations of Levantine, Mizrahi, and Arab Jewish identities against the backdrop of writings by earlier 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 State of Israel.

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“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


“Moshe Behar and Zvi Ben-Dor Benite have done a great service to scholarship by bringing together sources that reflect the robust discourse among Jewish intellectuals of Middle Eastern origin. They are to be heartily commended for this important act of historical reclamation.” —David N. Myers, UCLA

“Pathbreaking and compelling, Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought is a sorely needed intervention in Jewish intellectual history. This book should be taught widely in college courses on Jewish and Middle Eastern history.” —Lital Levy, Princeton University

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.

Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:03:27 -0500