(JNS.org) A mural dedicated to Lt.-Col. John Henry Patterson, an Irish Christian Zionist who played a pivotal role in the future formation of the Israel Defense Forces, was vandalized in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in an attack that is being described by police as a hate crime.
“Police said that at around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, two containers were set alight close to the memorial to Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson at the junction of Beverley Street and Northumberland Street, off the Shankill Road,” the Irish News reported.
Born in 1867, Patterson came to the region known as Palestine during World War I after serving as a colonial officer in eastern Africa, where he became famous for killing two giant man-eating lions. Patterson eventually commanded the Jewish Legion—the first Jewish force on the field of battle in the area in nearly 2,000 years—in campaigns in Gallipoli and Palestine.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a leading Zionist figure who was one of Patterson’s fellow soldiers, once said that “in all of Jewish history we have never had a Christian friend as understanding and devoted” as Patterson.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s father was close friends with Patterson when the two worked together to advocate for Israeli statehood. Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan, who was killed in Operation Entebbe in Uganda in 1976, was named in Patterson’s honor.
Although Patterson died in 1947, his ashes were reburied in Israel in 2014.