Remarks By Rabbi Patz

to the Rotary Club,

San Juan, Puerto Rico

March 7, 2017


When Lord Cornwallis’s deputy, General Charles O’Hara, surrendered at Yorktown (to George Washington’s deputy Gen. Benjamin Lincoln), the British military band played an old English tune, “The World Turned Upside Down.

This is the case today with Israel, a tiny country the size of New Jersey. You can fit four Israels into Lake Superior, 19 Israels into the state of California. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, a vibrant, inclusive country surrounded by enemies who have sworn to destroy it and have tried to do so numerous times. Vulnerable at its borders, at its narrowest point, its center waistline, it is only nine miles wide, less than from here in San Juan to Montehiedra on Route 52.

Yet to read the international news, Israel is one of the chief troublemakers in the world. The United Nations General Assembly passed 97 resolutions between 2012 and 2015. Of the 97, 83 dealt with Israel – and all of them were hostile. Through 2003, 101 of 681 UN resolutions dealt with Middle East Palestinian refugees; none ever mentioned the Jewish refugees from Arab lands, approximately the same number – 750,000-800,000 – as the Arabs who left the newly forming State of Israel. The UN Human Rights Council was reconstituted in 2006 to replace its totally anti-Israel predecessor. In the ten years since then, 135 resolutions were passed criticizing human rights failures: 68 of them were condemnations of Israel. The Human Rights Council has a standing agenda item, item #7, entitled “Israel’s human rights abuses against the Palestinians,” which is mandated to appear on the agenda for every session. At one of its meetings last March, five anti-Israel resolutions were passed – but nont a single resolution condemning human rights abuses in Libya, Syria, Yemen or any other country with blatant human rights problems. It’s logic and sanity turned upside down.

A second outrage: Do you know that U.S. taxpayer money goes to Palestinian terrorists? Here’s how that happens: The US gave $440 million to the Palestinian Authority in 2013. The Palestinian Authority paid $100 million reward money to jailed terrorists and their families that same year. The PA budget was $3.8 billion, of which the United States contributed over 12%. Senator Lindsay Graham and Representative Ed Royce have introduced a bill to cut funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount they pay terrorists. The bill is called the Taylor Force Act, named for a 29 year old Army officer veterin who was stabbed to death by Palestinians in Jaffa. (Included in US mission statement already.) Another example of the world turned upside down. Why should American money be paid to murders of our allies?

Points to consider: Myths to Demolish

  1. Size – Israel’s territory is 1/800th of the size of the Arab world. It is so small compared to those nations that on a world map its name is written on the Mediterranean Sea with an arrow pointing to where it is located (when it is included on world maps, that is). Twice the size of Puerto Rico, Israel’s population is 8+ million which includes 20% Arab. The Arab world, comprised of 22 states, has 422 million residents, over half of whom are under the age of 25. Not one of these 22 countries is a democracy. Jews were expelled from all of them beginning in 1948, and are not welcome in any except Morocco. In Israel’s democracy, the Knesset – Israel’s governing parliament – has 120 members, 17 of whom are Arabs elected to represent Arab parties. Arab citizens of Israel vote, of course, but they are exempt from military service. Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of the country. In a recent poll, 77% of Israeli Arabs expressed an overwhelming preference to remain in Israel rather than become citizens of a future Palestinian state. This is not apartheid. Far from it! And yet Israel is falsely – and regularly – accused of being an apartheid state.
  1. Who are the natives? Israel’s enemies accuse it of being a colonialist regime, displacing the indigenous Arabs who have been on the land “from time immemorial.” That is totally untrue. Palestine before the founding of the State of Israel was a small, neglected area with a diminishing Arab population. There was nothing to keep them there. It was traditionally a land of emigration, not immigration. The most optimistic evaluation was a growth rate of 1/1000 of 1%. It was a medieval, feudal system with absentee Arab landowners and poor peasants who barely produced enough to keep themselves alive. In the 1870s, the Arab population consisted essentially of 404,000 individuals.

    That changed in 1881 when Jewish pioneers started coming to join the pious Jews of Hebron, Tiberias, Safed and Jerusalem. Jewish pioneers drained the swamps and cured malaria, brought with them better methods of agriculture, built towns and cities. Suddenly there was a dramatic increase in health care and economic opportunity – jobs at good pay! Arab immigration during the period between 1920 and 1939 included 60-100,000 Syrian Arabs, totally undocumented by the British Mandate Authorities who monitored only Jewish immigration. And from 1939, as the Second World War began, the British limited Jewish immigration to 15,000 people a year for five years and, after that, only with Arab approval! It is important to note that the Arab population grew only in the areas settled by Jews. The population in the Arab areas declined. From 1850, there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, and a total of 404,000 Arabs in Palestine. By 1947, the year the United Nations partitioned Palestine, that number had tripled. There were 650,000 Jews and 1.2 million Arabs.

  1. Did Israel Massacre Arabs/Palestinians? The simple answer can be seen in the demographics: there were 1.2 million Arabs in 1947; there are 5.8 million today – 2.5 million in the West Bank, 1.6 million in Israel proper, and 1.7 million in Gaza.
  1. Refugees: Approximately 750,000 Arabs fled in the years between 1947 and 1949. The United Nations established the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to deal with their dislocation. While Israel absorbed Jews fleeing Arab countries, the Arabs who fled Israel were not absorbed. To this day, they live in refugee camps that are like cities set apart; they are kept as pawns by the Arab governments to use as a weapon against Israel. UNRWA still exists. It now serves 5 million Palestinians, refugees from 1948 and from the 1967 Six Day War. It is the only refugee agency that is not charged with eliminating the refugee status of the people living there and integrating them into the countries where the camps are located. It is the only UN agency devoted solely to one group, and – a very important point – the only UN agency that officially identifies all the male descendents of the original refugees as refugees themselves, thus perpetuating the problem. UNRWA’s budget is $1.3 billion dollars of which the US contributes $380 million. Is the US inadvertently prolonging the Palestinian refugee issue?
  1. Do Israeli settlements scuttle “land for peace”? First, a little history. The 1947 Partition plan allocated the West Bank to the Palestinian Arabs, but after the war – begun by the Arab nations who were unwilling to accept the partition of the land and Israel’s presence as a country – Jordan annexed it. Jordan’s annexation was recognized by only two countries, Pakistan and Great Britain. Jewish rural towns, kibbutzim and other settlements were destroyed; tombstones from old Jewish cemeteries were used to pave Jordanian army latrines. Jews were denied access to the Western Wall. In the days leading up to the 1967 war, Israel begged King Hussein to stay out of the war. He refused and lost the West Bank and Jerusalem’s Old City. The land of the West Bank originally belonged to the Ottoman Empire, then the British Mandate. Never did a Palestinian state come into being. Nearly all other other countries recognized Jordan’s annexation, so the legal status of the West Bank in fact is unclear. It is totally misleading to describe the West Bank as “occupied” by Israel. In the wake of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel offered to withdraw from everything they had conquered except Jerusalem. The Arab response, issued in the August 1967 Khartoum declaration, was no negotiations, no recognition, no land.

    So Israel annexed East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount, and in 1968 settlers began repopulating the ancient Jewish city of Hebron, which contains the Cave of Machpelah where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah – the early ancestors of the Jewish people – are all buried. Now there are 400,000 settlers occupying 1.7% of the land of the West Bank, 80% of which is in areas contiguous to the Green Line (Israel’s pre-1967 borders, so known because of all of the forestation planted by Israel on what was until them dry, barren land), with no impact whatsoever on Palestinian population centers. There are only 27 checkpoints, not hundreds. The security barrier is 97% fence and 3% wall, although you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage. It was erected to curtail the entry of suicide bombers from the West Bank into Israel and the result was a 90% drop. If you were the Israeli government, wouldn’t you feel obliged to protect your citizens?

    Now, to swap land for peace, one needs a genuine partner for peace. The Palestinians have walked away from every Israeli offer, even when then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to return 97% of the land taken and make Jerusalem the co-capitol of Israel and a Palestinian state. Extremists drive Hamas in Gaza, from which Israel withdrew in 2005, hoping that the Palestinians would create another Singapore or Hong Kong on the tiny strip of land on the Mediterranean. Instead, the Arabs destroyed all of the infrastructure the Israelis left for them. And as a result of the Oslo Accords of 1993, all but 40,000 of the West Bank Arabs are under the authority of the Palestinian Authority, in other words, 95% = 2,460,000. Abbas’s fear! What is Abbas afraid of?

  1. Is U.S. aid to Israel truly massive? The answer is yes – and no. The US gave little aid to Israel before Lyndon Johnson. In the 1973 war, transfer of weapons was authorized by Richard Nixon to counter the influence of the USSR, and Ronald Reagan named Israel a major non-NATO ally, with aid to the tune of $3 billion. However, since the beginning of this arrangement, 75% of those funds must be spent in the United States, and that amount is going up. Perspective: US budget 2014-2015 = $3.9 trillion; 600 billion for defense, 48 billion for foreign aid = less that 1.3% of the budget. Context: 75% of the $3 billion must be spent here. Plus we benefit enormously from Israeli military technology, making this a reasonable US investment.
  1. David into Goliath: We hear a lot today of Russian meddling. This is classic. After the 1967 war, a conscious Soviet disinformation campaign was fashioned to turn the Israeli David into a Goliath, planted in Western European left, now mainstream in the hard left in the US who are eager for anti-Israel ammunition. Intersectionality = anti-democracy, with BDS blurring the distinctions between and conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism.
  1. What is the Arab goal? Not two states but the destruction of Israel. Islamic theology divides the world into dar el harb, the realm of the sword – countries yet to be conquered; and dar el Islam, the realm of past and current Islamic control. The tactic to achieve total dar el Islam is “first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people”. Recognize, therefore, that Israel is the canary in the mineshaft of Western civilization.


  1. Our task: Know the facts and defend democracies vigorously. Otherwise, “The best lack conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” (Yeats, “The Second Coming”)