The Possibility of Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought

Moshe Behar, Zvi Ben-Dor Benite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the vast scholarly fields of modern Jewish thought and modern Jewish intellectual history effectively include no texts by Jews who are of non-European origin, the domain of modern Middle Eastern intellectual history includes no writings by native Middle Eastern Jews. Aiming to help remedy this dual void, this article presents the core premises and argumentation of several pre-1936 Middle Eastern Jewish intellectuals. In filling in some of the contours and details of this rich-but significantly underexplored-history, it posits that a distinct Jewish intellectual school that unambiguously understood itself to be quintessentially Middle Eastern has been present since the beginning of European Zionism in the late nineteenth century. What contemporary scholars commonly recognise as post-1970s Mizrahi (Eastern) thought is thus better understood as an outgrowth of a Middle Eastern Jewish intellectual formation predating 1948. © 2014 © 2014 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-61
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2014


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