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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Author Resurrects ‘Patterson of Palestine’

Monday, December 29th, 2008

He was Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu’s godfather. President Teddy Roosevelt counted him as a friend. And in a recently published biography, author Denis Brian calls him the father of the Israeli army. His name is Colonel John Henry Patterson.

During World War I Patterson trained and commanded the Jewish soldiers of the Zion Mule Corps and the 38th Battalion of the British army’s Royal Fusiliers, one of several battalions that comprised the Jewish Legion. Many of these soldiers, Brian argues, formed the backbone of what later became the Israeli army in 1948. “Without those men it’s almost certain that Israel would have been defeated,” Brian says.

 Greatly influenced by his wartime experience, Patterson, a non-Jew, spent the remainder of his life (he died in 1947) lobbying for the Zionist cause. He worked alongside the likes of Revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who had lobbied for and then fought in the Jewish Legion; Benzion Netanyahu, the father of former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieutenant Colonel Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed in Israel’s 1976 raid at Entebbe Airport; and Peter Bergson of the activist Bergson Group.

 Patterson is most famous in history for his lion-hunting exploits in Africa in 1898, which are depicted in three movies. However, what most fascinates Brian, author of The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson, is Patterson’s unusual dedication to Zionism. Brian recently spoke with The Jewish Press.

The Jewish Press: How do you explain Patterson’s love for Jews and dedication to Zionism?

Brian: He was very impressed with the Jewish soldiers he fought with and got to know. He was particularly impressed with Jabotinsky, who he regarded as a great individual as well as a great leader.

 He obviously was also brought up on the Bible, which influenced him a great deal. That, in fact, is also why many of the American presidents have been so pro-Zionist from the very start. You may not know this, but John Adams, the second president of the United States, wanted 100,00 Jews to invade Palestine and take it over. He recommended this in a correspondence with a Jewish friend.

 You write of an incident in which Patterson stood up for the honor of Jews.

 Yes, a fairly high-ranking British officer called one of his soldiers a dirty Jew.  He had his men surround the officer with bayonets and got him to apologize. Then he contacted the British government and the man was sent abroad.

Patterson worked more closely with Revisionist Zionists like Jabotinsky than Labor Zionists like Chaim Weizmann or David Ben-Gurion. Why?

 Being a military man and a historian, Patterson believed one had to fight for one’s existence. That was more in line with Jabotinsky’s idea than that of Weizmann, who felt it was more important to be diplomatic, discuss things with the British, depend on the British, etc.

Why did you write this book?

I wrote a biography of Ernest Hemingway in which I discovered that one of his books, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, was based on Patterson’s experience in Africa. Then I discovered that people didn’t know that Patterson was a man of many lives. Almost everybody thought he just had to do with lion hunting, but then I discovered that he had this Jewish link, which I found much more fascinating. I had previously written a biography of Einstein, so I knew about what was happening in Palestine at the time. So the whole thing got together like that.

You write in the book that history has not been fair to Patterson. How so?

I think that other than Harry Truman, no non-Jew has been more responsible for Israel’s existence than Patterson. Israel would not have won in 1948 without the trained leaders that came out of Patterson’s army.

 But he’s not given his due. He’s probably known to 1 in 10,000 people in Israel and to even fewer in America. Many people know of Lawrence of Arabia. Well, he was Patterson of Palestine and, in fact, Patterson had much more of an effect than Lawrence on the future of the Middle East.

Getting Past The Whatever Attitude

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

A parent turns to her teenaged son and asks, “What’s bothering you?” “Whatever,” answers the kid with a disconsolate shrug.


A husband enquires of his wife, “Did I do something to upset you? Is something wrong?” Her disappointed face grimaces, “Whatever”


A father questions his daughter, “Have you finished your homework? Did you study for your test?” The daughter turns up the volume on her head-phones and mutters, “Whatever.”

Overheard in conversation: What should we do about the terrorism? About the starving children in Africa? About global warming? “Whatever.”


To me, nothing captures the spirit of the times like this ubiquitous whatever-ness. We are a “Whatever” Generation that lives by the motto of “live and let live”; our first commandment is “Thou shalt be open-minded to other people’s morals” or, alternatively, their desire to be lacking in morals. Our openness is lauded as tolerance, but to me it smells more like apathy.


I’ve noticed that when I ask my children what they want for dinner, I’ll never hear “Whatever”; I’ll be very specifically informed which foods they like and dislike, and how they prefer it to be cooked. But as soon as something beyond our most immediate needs is at stake, it becomes too much of an exertion to express a passionate stand, to formulate a well-reasoned opinion, or to intervene with practical assistance. So we suffice with “Whatever.”


The “Whatever” mindset has seeped into every facet of our society – into politics, into our schools, the workplace, our relationships, even how we dress. Youngsters and adults wear frayed cuffs, torn jeans, underclothing peeking out or pants almost falling off. Anything that screams “Whatever” (ironically, we’ll spend many hours and dollars to achieve this look of casual indifference).


“Whatever” means I don’t really think that you sincerely care. Even if you are concerned enough to ask, I don’t think that you’ll put forth the necessary effort to change the situation or help me improve my circumstances. So, let’s be honest: if you don’t really care about this and I certainly don’t, then why are we even bothering to discuss it?


So the teenager sulks silently and explores all kinds of harmful pursuits in order to forget his misery. The couple joins the 50 percent of the married population in divorce court because they couldn’t be burdened with the extensive effort necessary to work through their conflicts. And our children continue to feel that their education is irrelevant.


I’m not sure how this whateverness became so ingrained in our society. Perhaps it began as true tolerance for the practices of others. Maybe the media bombardment of atrocities and calamities – natural or man-caused – created within us this defence mechanism to counteract feelings of absolute helplessness in the face of so much tragedy. Or maybe it happened with the fast-paced speed of technological advancement: with the whole world our village, we sense ourselves to be insignificant in the grand scheme of things.


Regardless of its causes, this caustic apathy needs to be counteracted from the roots upward, beginning with the earliest and most formative years of our children’s lives. We must impart two basic values to our children, values that Judaism has been espousing from time immemorial:


The Torah teaches us that when G‑d created the first human being, Adam, He created him as a single individual (unlike every other plant or animal species). The reason, explain our sages, is that G‑d wished to teach us, for all perpetuity, the importance of every human being; that every person is indeed an entire world.


On the other hand, mankind was created last of all creations, on the sixth day of creation. Our sages explain that this was to teach us responsibility to our world. If a human being acts with morals and ideals, acknowledging his responsibility for the rest of creation, he is higher than all creatures. If, however, man shuns his responsibility, he has sunk lower than even the smallest insect crawling on the earth.


Our challenge is to inculcate our children with these essential, foundational beliefs:

You matter. You are important. You are a being with infinite potential. You are a whole world, and you can make an impact. Respect yourself. Respect who you can be. And act in accordance.


As great as you are, your greatness is only reflected in realizing that there are things greater than you that are worth sacrificing for: values and morals, community and family. Your personal happiness is not an end to itself, but you must feel a sense of responsibility for your world.


These simple but fundamental values are what distinguish us as human beings. They are essential for us to believe and for our children to trust, because there is just too much at stake, for us to abandon our children to the cruelties of an irreverent, and irrelevant, whatever world.


Chana Weisberg is the author of four books including the best-selling Divine Whispers and the newly released Tending the Garden. She is a associate editor for www.chabad.org  and lectures worldwide on a wide array of issues. To have her speak for your community or to be a part of her upcoming book tour, please contact her at chanaw@gmail.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/getting-past-the-whatever-attitude/2008/02/13/

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