The Foundational Antinativism of Mizrahi Literature: Introduction to Flora Saporto
by Moshe Behar
Theoretically or empirically, is it possible that a man could have written the first modern feminist story? Is it similarly possible that an Ashkenazi woman could have written the first protofeminist literary Mizrahi text? Answering in the affirmative, this essay unveils the antinativist Ottoman foundation for what contemporary scholars of Hebrew literature call “Mizrahi literature.” It does so by translating, for the first time into English, parts of a 3,700 word Hebrew story titled “Flora Saporto,” which was published in February 1914 in the periodical Haherut (1909–1917). The text was published under the pseudonym Bat Zvi, but it was written by suffragist and doyen of early modern Hebrew literature Nehama Puhachevsky (1869–1934). Bizarrely, however, during the century since its publication, this foundational story has been neither discussed nor analyzed by any scholar of Hebrew literature.