Christian Commander of Zionist Pioneers to be Buried in Israel
JNS.org – The Christian leader of the British Army’s Jewish Legion, which fought the Turks during the First World War and included soldiers such as renowned Zionist pioneers Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Joseph Trumpeldor, will be buried in Israel next month.
The transfer of the ashes of Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson from Los Angeles, and his subsequent burial in the Jewish state on Nov. 10, have been coordinated by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Irish-born Patterson was a friend of Netanyahu’s father, historian Benzion Netanyahu. The name of Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan, who was killed in the 1976 Entebbe operation, was inspired by the Patterson’s name.
“Col. Patterson was one of the founders of the Jewish Legion, the first Jewish military force since the Bar-Kokhva Revolt, which served as the basis for the eventual founding of the Israel Defense Forces,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “My father and mother always spoke warmly of Col. Patterson, who worked with my father during the 1940s in the United States to promote the Zionist idea.”
Patterson’s ashes will be buried in the Moshav Avihayil Military Cemetery near Netanya, which was founded by veterans of the Jewish Legion. The request to bury the ashes in Israel was made by Patterson’s grandson, who said that it was his grandfather’s wish to be buried next to his Jewish Legion comrades. The planned date of Patterson’s burial will be his 147th birthday, and comes just a few months before the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Legion’s founding.
Patterson was a “true righteous among the Gentiles, one of the greatest friends our people had in the British military, whose contribution to renewing Hebrew militarism at the beginning of the last century and the national liberation of the Jewish people was of great importance,” said Yossi Ahimeir, the director of the Jabotinsky Institute, according to Haaretz.
“In all of Jewish history we have never had a Christian friend as understanding and devoted as [Patterson],” Jabotinsky himself is known to have said.