The Christian Zionist Officer Who Helped Lay the Foundations of the IDF

April 19 2016

When, in the midst of World War I, Britain acceded to Vladimir Jabotinsky’s lobbying and created a Jewish volunteer unit to join in the fight against the Ottomans, it appointed Colonel John Henry Patterson as its leader. Patterson, who was born in Ireland to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother, sympathized strongly with Zionism and was an outspoken opponent of anti-Semitism. Veterans of the unit he commanded later helped form the core of the Haganah. Patterson died in California in 1947, but it was not until 2014 that his wish to be buried alongside his men in Israel was fulfilled. Myrna Strapp, the attorney who made the re-interment possible, speaks about Patterson’s life and her battle to have his remains brought to Israel. (Interview by Yishai Fleischer; audio, 32 minutes.)

Read more at Voice of Israel

More about: Haganah, Histroy & Ideas, IDF, Vladimir Jabotinsky, World War I, Zion Mule Corps

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad