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

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

Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship