John Patterson, the (Non-Jewish) Lion Hunter of Judah

On November 10, the ashes of Lt.-Col. John Henry Patterson will be reinterred at an Israeli cemetery. Patterson earned a heroic reputation in the British military by shooting lions that were threatening the construction of a railway in Kenya. He was also an avid reader of the Bible, a philo-Semite, and a staunch supporter of Zionism. When World War I began, he led the Zion Mule Corps, a group of Jewish exiles from Palestine who joined the British in fighting the Ottoman empire. After the war’s end, Patterson fiercely protested British attempts to walk back from the Balfour Declaration. His dedication to the Jewish people did not end there, writes Natan Slifkin:

When World War II broke out, Patterson, now an old man, fought to create another Jewish Legion. After great effort, the Jewish Infantry Brigade was approved. Aside from fighting the Germans, members of the Brigade succeeded in smuggling many concentration-camp survivors into Palestine. Many other survivors had been cruelly turned away, and Patterson protested this to President Truman, capitalizing on his earlier relationship with Roosevelt. This contributed to Truman’s support for a Jewish homeland. Patterson spent most of his later years actively campaigning for a Jewish homeland and against the British Mandate’s actions toward the Jews in Palestine. Tragically, he passed away a month before the State of Israel was created.

Read more at Rationalist Judaism

More about: Mandate Palestine, Philo-Semitism, World War I, World War II, Zion Mule Corps

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood