Contemporary Mizrahi Authors and The Limits of the Postsecular “Masorti” Response to Jewish National Sovereignty
This dissertation demonstrates how the work of three contemporary Mizrahi authors (Haviva Pedaya, Albert Swissa, and Dvir Tzur) challenges the postsecular framing of Mizrahi Jewish practice as masortiyut (“traditionism”), which refers to the flexible form of Jewish observance associated with Arab-Jews in Israel/Palestine. Postsecular critics have mobilized this position to challenge the terms of Jewish national sovereignty. This study claims that, while these writers refuse “masortiyut” as a coherent subject position, they extend certain of its challenges by reconsidering the interaction of the secular and the theological with regard to the nationalist narrative of return entailed in Shivat Tzion (“the return to Zion”). By means of an allusive engagement with mystical texts, these authors reconceive of exile as a reparative condition rather than as a defective state. They replace a notion of static “return” with a “Wandering East” which potentially reorients the Jewish presence in the Middle East away from a relationship of strict identity with the geopolitical territory of Israel.