This article traces the emergence of the Hebrew periodical Mizrah Uma‘arav (East and West), published in Jerusalem intermittently from 1919 until 1930. The Sephardi Jewish editor, Avraham Elmaleh (1876–1967), had a vision of a journal that would fulfil a variety of functions, some of which, I argue, would prove to be contradictory: communal–historical, educational, scholarly, and political. First, and perhaps most pressingly, Elmaleh sought to record Sephardi intellectual, religious, and cultural history in the aftermath of the break-up and looming transformation of the Sephardi Ottoman world. At the same time, he struggled to place Sephardi Jewish civilization on a par with the Ashkenazi Jewish experience that was being normalized and privileged on a scholarly level in Jewish Studies. The Ashkenazi dominance of the new political reality in Palestine also led Elmaleh to take on the Hebraization and nationalization project of Sephardi Jews with missionary zeal. Finally, Elmaleh also contributed to the efforts of the Zionist movement to lay claim to Holy Land antiquity studies and, thereby, to the Land of Israel itself. Throughout, Elmaleh’s project expressed an ambivalence towards Palestinian Arabs and towards the relationship of Sephardi Jews to their surrounding Middle Eastern society. Overall this article situates Mizrah Uma‘arav as intellectual history, as communal identity producer, and as political contestant in a changing landscape.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations