Matt Abelson
Matt Abelson

Yes, yes, yes

Daily consumers of news think they can understand the nature of the conflicts in which Israel is embedded when they keep up with the course of daily, weekly, and monthly events. The recent riot-protests accompanied by flaming kites along Israel’s Gaza border is an example of what standard news consumers read, and from these stories, they develop a concept of themselves as well-informed. What is missing for these standard news consumers is any sense of history. For that reason, marking the anniversary of the Khartoum Resolution, is an opportunity for serious students of the war against Israel to deepen their understanding of this Middle East conflict and perhaps confront any reflexive anti-Israel bias they may have.

The 1967 Khartoum Resolution is an infamous set of “no’s” that is emblematic of the intransigence and rejectionism that are ongoing features of Israel’s conflict with her neighbors. Sudan hosted the September 1, 1967 Khartoum meeting. There, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, and Kuwait joined Sudan in stating the “main principles by which [they] would abide, namely, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, [and] no negotiation with [Israel].”

While much of the wind has departed from the sails of these eight countries in their war against Israel – most significantly in the cases of Jordan and Egypt, which enjoy cold peace’s with the Jewish state – the anniversary of this Resolution demands attention. Attention itself is necessary but not sufficient. On this anniversary day, I propose a set of three yes’s that I hope Diaspora Zionists will adopt as we continue to support Israel in her pursuit of regional security, peace, and recognition:

  1. Yes to the recognition of the Knesset’s December 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights.
  2. Yes to the permanence of Israeli communities and residences in Judea and Samaria in the event that Palestinians found a state on the Jordan River’s West Bank.
  3. Yes to the dissolution of UNRWA and the so-called “right of return.”

The first yes becomes increasingly relevant as the Syrian Civil War comes to a halt and a stable arrangement coheres. Diaspora Zionists should promote the importance of recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. The timing is propitious and demonstrates the wisdom of Israel’s political leadership in voting on annexation. Additionally, Israel’s political leadership should be credited with discontinuing negotiations with Syria under Bashar al-Assad or his father, Hafez, despite intermittent American pressure during the 1990s and early 2000s. Syria’s brutality, often overlooked when the United States applied pressure, has become increasingly difficult to ignore during the Civil War that began in March 2011. In short, recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights should be one of the outcomes of this Civil War.

The second yes that Diaspora Zionists should affirm is the permanence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria regardless of the founding of any Palestinian state. While the creation and expansion of some of these communities has been a source of controversy in the Israeli body politic, the suggestion that they are illegal is poorly substantiated. Moreover, as Natan Sharansky has argued, an authoritarian Palestinian state is most likely assured if the precondition for the state’s creation is that every Jew must be evicted from her home.

The third yes gained momentum this week with the U.S. decision to cut funding to UNRWA. The genetic transmission of refugee status of Palestinians who left or were expelled from their homes in 1948 during the War of Independence has perpetuated the conflict. UNRWA’s dissolution is one step toward the normalization of Palestinian status, which in the long term will bring the war against Israel to a close.

The no’s of Khartoum have been both a symbolic and real factor in delaying the cessation of conflict between the Jewish state and her neighbors. To overcome the power of no, we should affirm the spirit of yes and promote these three yes’s on the anniversary of Khartoum.

About the Author
Matt Abelson is a Conservative Rabbi living in Somerville, MA.
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