Hed Ha-Mizrach – Journal for Sephardic Jewry [Hebrew]|
Place of Publication (varied throughout the years): Jerusalem (Palestine/Eretz-Yisrael)
Years of Publication: 1942-1944, 1949-1951
Frequency (varied throughout the years): bi-monthly (1942-1944); weekly (1944, 1949-1950); irregular (1951)
Editors: Eliyahu Eliashar (Chief editor, 1942-1944, 1949-1951); David Sitton (1949-1951)
The first issue of Hed Ha-Mizrach was published on June 10, 1942 and the paper continued to appear regularly, twice a month,
until February 1944. From March 1944 until December of the same year, the journal issued weekly publications and then ceased
operations completely. Its publication was resumed in January 1949, as a weekly, and continued thus until the end of 1950.
In 1951, during the months of January, February and July, six issues were published.
In its first thirteen issues, the periodical was called Ha-Mizrah—Journal for Sephardi Jewry; the title “Ha-Mizrah” also
appeared in Arabic and English. The paper’s editorial staff was based in Jerusalem. Beginning with the issue published on
January 15, 1943, the periodical was called Hed Ha-Mizrach —Journal for Sephardi Jewry; the title “Hed Ha-Mizrach” again
appeared on the title page in Arabic and English. The first issue was sixteen pages, and the majority of subsequent issues
more or less maintained this length, until the later issues, which were briefer.
When the paper’s publication was resumed on January 7, 1949—during the War of Independence—a quotation from Isaiah
(“For Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet”) appeared in the upper left corner, the title no longer appeared in Arabic
and English, and in place of the subtitle “Journal for Sephardic Jewry” there appeared the phrase “An independent popular
weekly”. The paper’s first issue from the second period concluded with the electoral platform of the list of "Sephardim and
Members of the Oriental Communities", and later issues included the election slogan: “Remember: Your election note—S.”
The paper’s chief editor was Eliyahu Eliashar, president of the Sephardic Jewish Committee in Jerusalem, as well as a member
of the First and Second Knesset on behalf of the groups “Sephardim and members of the Oriental communities” and “General
Zionists”. In addition to Eliashar, the editorial staff also included Abraham Elmaleh and David Sitton, who wrote extensively
for the paper. The names of the members of the editorial staff were not printed in the paper; instead only the address
appeared. With the renewed publication of Hed Ha-Mizrach in 1949, Eliashar was established as the chief editor, David Sitton
as editor, and four additional writers as regular contributors: Abraham Elmaleh, Moshe Karmon, Yosef Rivlin, and Shalom
Schwartz. The paper’s publisher until January 15, 1943 was Moshe Levy Nahum; after that date, Eliyahu Eliashar became the
publisher and was legally responsible for the paper’s content. The paper closed for good in 1951 due to lack of funding.
David Sitton was subsequently editor of the paper Ba-Ma’aracha, which constituted a kind of continuation of Hed Ha-Mizrach.
In the first issue, the paper observed: “With the establishment of this forum, many questions have undoubtedly been raised;
this new forum—why has it been created and what is its aim? Is there room for yet another forum among the many already in
existence? To these questions we can readily respond: For many years Sephardic Jewry has lived in Eretz Yisrael without a
journal of its own with which to express its opinions and voice its wishes. Always relegated to the tables of others… It is
impossible that union can be achieved before all elements of the Yishuv have full equality.” The paper characterized the
public in whose name it spoke as “Sephardim and the Mizrahi communities.”
In the fourteenth issue, in which the paper became Hed Ha-Mizrach, one section explained: “The powerful echo of the journal
for Sephardic Jewry, not only in Israel, but also in the Eastern lands of exile, make the existence of this forum a true life
line for Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry, which has until now been mired in absolute silence. The thirteen issues which have thus
far appeared under the name “Hed Ha-Mizrach” serve as sufficient proof to all who expressed doubts and uncertainties on the
creation of this forum, for it has a distinct right to life and there is much to be said and to voice to this community and
in the name of this community.” The paper’s change in name was also related to the transfer of the printing process from
Hoshan Printers in Yaffo to Azriel Printers in Jerusalem, as well as the change in publishers from Moshe Levy Nahum & Sons to
Eliyahu Eliashar, the chief editor.
In the issue from January 21, 1949, when Eliyahu Eliashar sought to explain the campaign of the Sephardi list in the elections
for the First Knesset, his response was closely linked to the motivating factors behind the publication of the paper: “We
aspire to unification and solidarity and the elimination of ethnic barriers; however, while any one tribe of Israel is not
included as an equal partner in every aspect of the life of the state—as in the past it was not equal in the life of the
Yishuv and the Zionist movement—there exists a danger not only that the ethnic barriers will not be removed, but that those
very barriers will grow and the ethnic division will become fixed and permanent, God forbid!”
The last issue of the periodical, from July 20, 1951, before the election for the Second Knesset, opened with an editorial by
Eliashar which asserted: “It is a fact that in the State of Israel there exists ethnic discrimination. There exists, also, an
“Ashkenazi hegemony”…. There are many circles that look with concern on the proliferation of the Sephardi-Mizrahi communities
in Israel, and there are even those who dare to write on the course necessary in order to prevent such a majority from making
its mark on the state as a whole.” In this editorial, Eliashar also expounded on the Sephardic communities of the Diaspora
that his party, as well as his paper, represented: new immigrants from Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Bulgaria, Morocco and North Africa,
Iran, and Greece, as well as the long-standing Sephardic communities in Eretz Yisrael.
The paper dealt extensively with current events in the Jewish Yishuv and the Zionist movement, and later in the State of Israel,
through an examination of the position of Sephardi Jews in each of these, as well as the state of Ashkenazi-Sephardi relations.
The paper also devoted a significant place to current events in the neighboring Arab countries, the Jewish communities in those
countries, and Sephardic and Mizrahi culture in general. Thus, for example, many issues included writings on figures from the
Eastern world, both Jewish figures of the past and present (e.g., the thousand-year anniversary celebration of Rav Sa’adia
Gaon in the first issue, or “Sol the Righteous – From the Jewish Folklore of North Africa”), and non-Jewish figures (about
whom Abraham Elmaleh, among others, wrote extensively). The paper also dedicated space to discussion of the situation of
specific Jewish communities in Eastern countries and certain phenomena within those communities, such as the role of Jews in
Arab literature. The paper often examined Sephardi-Ashkenazi relations in Mandatory Palestine and the State of Israel, and
the problem of systematic discrimination against Sephardic Jews and the Ashkenazi control over most institutions, as well as
particular social problems like matters of education or the phenomenon of street children. The paper was greatly occupied
with internal political issues of the Yishuv and Israel, such as the appointment of the Chief Rabbi, and the participation of
members of the paper’s editorial board—particularly Eliyahu Eliashar—in the political system and the various election
campaigns. The paper included literary sections (among them translations of the Egyptian author Tawfiq al-Hakim), poetry,
and linguistics, and it sought to present works from Sephardi and Mizrahi culture. The journal also included articles
addressing World War II and the Holocaust, as well as memorial sections for the deceased. Aong the writers who contributed to
the paper included: Moshe David Gaon, Jacob Toledano, Yitzhak Levy, Yosef Meyuhas, Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel (who was Rishon
Le-Zion, the Chief Rabbi of the Sephardic community), Yosef Rivlin, Yehuda Ratzaby, and others.
The periodical adopted a moderate line towards the Zionist-Arab conflict. It served as a forum for discussion of current
events in the Arab world, with the aim of bringing these issues to the awareness of a Hebrew readership and slightly balancing
the orientation of the Ashkenazi Yishuv, which preferred dialogue with Western powers or with Eastern European culture. The
paper’s moderate line reflected the personal position of Eliyahu Eliashar, and was also expressed by articles written by guest
contributors like Judah Leon Magnes, the first president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of Brit Shalom,
who called for the establishment of an Arab-Jewish federation.
Copy from microfilm in very good condition. Occasional problems of slightly faded text.