© 2016 by SAG - Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation

March 18, 2017 - 'Cowardly' graffiti on Belfast memorial to Irish Zionist who fought in WWI being treated as a hate crime

Not content to attack the Jewish state as it exists today, anti-Israel vandals are reaching back a century to besmirch the names of those, such as Arthur Balfour, David Lloyd George, and their cabinet colleagues who were responsible for the Balfour Declaration. Now the same impulse is apparently behind the defacing of the memorial in Belfast that honours John Henry Patterson.

Lt. Col. Patterson is the Irishman who led units in the British Army during the First World War made up of Jewish volunteers, many from Palestine. He was an ardent Christian Zionist who dedicated his post-military life working for the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland. The words “scum” and “Nazis” were spray painted on the monument on the night of March 16th, according to The Independent. The report said that police are treating the incident as a hate crime. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/anti-semitism-graffiti-mural-belfast-northern-ireland-zionist-lt-col-james-henry-patterson-a7636706.html)

Patterson -- already famous as a soldier, big-game hunter, and author when the First World War began –trained and led the Zion Mule Corps, which served in Gallipoli, and later the Jewish Legion, which fought the Turkish Army with great distinction in the Sinai desert and in what later became Israel and Jordan. He had to overcome anti-Semitism among some British officers, first in order to permit the establishment of the Jewish units, and then even during the time they were in active combat.

In the post-war years he continued to champion the cause of Zionism: He opposed those in the British government who sought to renege on their responsibility under the Mandate for Palestine and the Balfour Declaration to foster the creation of a Jewish homeland. And he travelled tirelessly throughout the English-speaking world for many years, speaking and organizing in support of a Jewish state – and a Jewish army to defend it.

Patterson died in the United States at the age of 78, in 1946, not long before the establishment of the State of Israel. In 2014, his ashes and those of his wife were re-interred in Israel, in a small graveyard at the moshav (farming community) that is the final resting place of his comrades-in-arms from the First World War. At a ceremony to mark the re-interment, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke glowingly of Patterson – a close friend and colleague of his parents in the effort to gain support for a Jewish state:  “There is no exaggeration,” Netanyahu said, “Patterson was the commander of the first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millennia. And, as such, he can be called the godfather of the Israeli army.”