Joseph and Judah Accords – No Peace without Legitimacy

The Abraham Accords have been successful because they placed the historic recognition of Israel by previously hostile Arab countries within a framework of legitimacy.

The language and symbolism of Abraham gave legitimacy to this new relationship by positioning it as a reconciliation among previously-alienated cousins.

The Abrahamic Family House in the UAE then reinforced this legitimacy, positioned as renewed inter-familial fraternity, through an awesome physical manifestation.

On this basis, the war with Hamas notwithstanding, the participating countries have accelerated their relationships at astonishing pace.

The people behind the Abraham Accords realised what peacemakers working over 100 years on the core Israeli-Palestinian question have failed, and still fail, to understand – there can be no peace without legitimacy.

No matter how much we agonise over the model (two states, one state, confederation, others); no matter how much we tweak the solutions; no matter who expresses support for them; no matter how many carrots or sticks the international community puts in place to cajole the parties to accept them; no outcome will work, no solution can be implemented, unless and until the two parties first recognise the legitimacy of the other’s connection to the Land and the rights that flow from this.

I would like to propose a legitimising framework for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, one which is a logical progression from the Abraham Accords: the Joseph and Judah Accords.


We Jews believe ‘maasei avot, simun l’banim‘ – the acts of our forefathers are signs for the descendants. This is one of the main reasons we believe the Torah includes the book of Genesis.

The narrative in Torah and the Prophets, and the corresponding narrative in the Quran, fit.

The hostility between Joseph and Judah with his brothers.

Judah sending Joseph into exile.

Joseph’s rise in exile.

The brothers failure to recognise Joseph in disguise.

Joseph’s harshness to Judah and the brothers.

Judah’s approach.

Joseph’s forgiveness

The brothers’ reconciliation.

King Solomon and the splitting of the baby (which we link to the Joseph story in the Torah as as I Kings 3 gives us the haftara – or accompanying reading from the Prophets – for Parsha Mikeitz, which covers Joseph’s rise to power).

The dry bones and the merging of the two sticks (which we also link to the Joseph story in the Torah as Ezekiel 37 gives us the haftara for the next Parsha, Vayigash, in which Judah approaches Joseph, leading to forgiveness and reconciliation).

These could be signs for us, if we would be willing to recognise them as such.

We now know that Palestinians and Jews, Ashkenazi as well as Mizrachi, have close genetic linkages.

Our tradition tells us that we Jews (i.e. Judah, together with Benjamin and part of Shimon and Levi) will be reunited with the lost Ten Tribes, who are under the leadership of Joseph.

We often talk of the Ten Tribes returning from their exile. But perhaps we may reframe our understanding from the story of the dry bones which immediately precedes the reunification of Judah with Joseph in Ezekiel 37.

Maybe Joseph is here all along, but in disguise. 

From this, maybe we can learn that it is time for forgiveness and reconciliation.

That it is time we both as ‘true mothers’ refuse to divide the baby.

That it is time, as we are commanded in Ezekiel 37, we no longer defile ourselves.

That it is time for our sticks to merge.

That it is time for a covenant of peace.

About the Author
Adam Gross is a strategist that specialises in solving complex problems in the international arena. Adam made aliyah with his family in 2019 to live in northern Israel.
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