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A Look at Iran’s Leaders

A Look at Iran’s Leaders

Supreme Leader Grand

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Born in 1939, Ali Khamenei claims to be descended from Ali ibn Abi Talib, a cousin of Mohammed and the first Imam of Shi’a Islam.  Within Iran, his office gives him absolute power and authority.  Khamenei was a top ally of Ayatollah Khomeini during the Iranian revolution.  Following the overthrow of the Shah, he served as Iran’s Secretary of Defense and was appointed to lead Friday prayers in Tehran.

In 1981, after surviving an assassination attempt that left his right arm permanently paralyzed, Khamenei was installed as president of Iran.  In his inaugural address, Khamenei promised to eliminate “deviation, liberalism, and American-influenced leftists.”  During the Iran-Iraq war which started in 1982, Khamenei developed close ties to the leaders of the Revolutionary Guards. 

Khamenei remained in office as president until 1989, when following the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, he was selected by the Council of Experts to be the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic.  The office of supreme leader, as established by Ayatollah Khomeini is to serve as a “theocratic guardian” of the people.  No law passed by the government may take effect without his approval.  Even those who are elected to office only serve if he deems them fit for the position.

One observer described Khamenei as the “omnipotent overseer of Iran’s political scene.”  Khamenei rarely speaks in public and has established a firm policy of not meeting with representatives or leaders of any Western government.  He does appear on Iranian television with foreign leaders from Muslim nations and the representatives of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.  Under his leadership, Iran has poured billions of dollars into training and arming various terrorist organizations.

Khamenei promoted the candidacy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to serve as president when he first ran for office, and again in 2009 as a bulwark against reform efforts.  The 2009 election was marked by massive fraud and allegations of government interference.  Following massive protests, in which a large number of Iranians were killed, the government consolidated its grip on power.   The two men were once close, but reports of rifts between them followed the removal of several key Ahmadinejad allies from their government posts. 

Khamenei is no fan of tolerance.  His persecution of Christians, the Baha’i community, and even Sunni Muslims has been harsh.  As president, Khamenei signed a declaration that called for members of minority groups to have their “progress and development blocked” and keep those who openly practice religion from attending school or gaining meaningful employment.

Among the demonstrations of his absolute power are his edict closing public music schools because music education corrupts the minds of young children, and his forbidding the parliament of Iran from even debating the laws governing the press.  Khamenei also appoints the members of the Council of Guardians, who select those who will be allowed to run for office.

Khamenei once said that it is “clear that conflict and confrontation between [the Islamic Republic of Iran and the U.S.] is something natural and unavoidable.”  He described the United States as “trying to establish a global dictatorship and further its own interests by dominating other nations and trampling on their rights.”  In a speech to Iranian students in 2008, Khamenei said, “the Iranian people’s hatred for America is profound. The reason for this [hatred] is the various plots that the U.S. government has concocted against Iran and the Iranian people in the past 50 years. The Americans have not only refused to apologize for their actions, but have continued with their arrogant actions.”

The Iranian leader reserves his harshest words for Israel.  He stated publicly that, “this cancerous tumor of a state [Israel] should be removed from the region.”  In a 2008 sermon Khamenei declared that “it is incorrect, irrational, pointless and nonsense to say that we are friends of the Israeli people.”

President Ebrahim Raisi

The eighth president of the Islamic Republic, Ebrahim Raisi was born on December 14, 1960.  His father died when he was five, and Raisi attended a number of schools.  At the age of 15, four years prior to the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the Shah, he began studying at Qom Seminary.  There is considerable dispute as to the extent of his studies.  He has claimed to have a doctorate, but no records have been found to support that.  He has also claimed to be an Ayatollah, but again there does not appear to be any basis for that claim.

After the revolution when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, Raisi was appointed as a prosecutor.  He rose through the ranks and was moved to Tehran.  Raisi has been named as one of the members of the “death committee,” which met to assign the penalties for those deemed not to be sufficiently in agreement with the new Islamic Republic.  Though the government officially recognizes less than 4,000 deaths, outside groups like Amnesty International place the death toll at more than 30,000.

In addition to his service as chief prosecutor in Tehran, Raisi was later named First Deputy Chief Justice of Iran.  After ten years in that post, he was designated Iran’s Attorney General.  Raisi continued to distinguish himself as a hard-liner, even by the extreme standards of the government of Iran.  

In 2017 Raisi ran against the incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani.  Other ultra conservative candidates dropped out of the race and threw their support behind him, but in the end, Raisi received only 38 percent of the vote, and Rouhani was elected to a second term.  In 2021, Raisi ran again for the open office of president.  This time he received 68 percent of the vote, although there were widespread allegations of voting irregularities.  Opposition candidates claimed the vote was rigged, but Raisi became president nonetheless.

Raisi made it clear from the beginning that he was committed to continuing Iran’s hostility toward Israel.  He picked Ahmad Vahidi to serve as Minister of Interior in his government.  Vahidi was involved in the deadly terror attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1994 that killed 85 people and injured more than 300 others at a Jewish community center.  

His term in office has been marked by widespread protests across Iran, and the people demand the freedoms and reforms they have been promised.  But Raisi continues in power, and is expected to run for reelection when his current term ends in 2025.  He has been officially named by the United States government and sanctioned for human rights violations.  He has been unable to travel outside the country for fear of arrest.

In 2006 Raisi was named to Iran’s Council of Experts, the 86 member body that selects Iran’s leaders and approves all candidates for office.  He began serving his second ten-year term in that body in 2016.  It is widely believed that if the current Supreme Leader were to die, Raisi would become the third Ayatollah of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  His hatred of Israel is well-known, and he is one of the strongest voices in defense of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Major General Hossein Salami

In April of 2019, Ayatollah Khamenei appointed Hossein Salami to be the head of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution of Iran (the Revolutionary Guards). Since the revolution in 1979, this has been one of the most powerful positions in the government of Iran.  Salami replaced Major General Mohammad Jafari who had held the post since 2007.

Salami was a student at the Iran University of Science and Technology in Tehran when the Iran-Iraq War started.  He left school to serve in the army, returning after the war was over to finish both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Salami has served in Iran’s military ever since, rising through the ranks to become a major general.  He carries on his country’s forty-year hatred of Israel.  In January of 2019, Salami told an Iranian television station that the “Zionist regime” needed to be wiped off the map.  Salami previously served as deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards and is known to be very hardline against both Israel and America.

The Revolutionary Guards are a radical group even by Iranian standards.  They are the most committed to ensuring the ideological purity of the regime and enforcing the standards of strict Islamic law on everyone in Iran.  The group is also a major supporter of world terrorism, and many of its top officials, including Salami have been personally sanctioned by the European Union and other Western powers.     

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How to Develop Mountain-Moving Faith

How to Develop Mountain-Moving Faith

The evangelist Dwight L. Moody once said, “Faith that fizzles in the finish has a flaw in the beginning.” For many Christians, faith is a concept, not a reality. It is easier for them to talk about faith than to walk by it, but the Bible says it is impossible to please God without faith. What kind of faith pleases the Lord? Faith that can be tested and can be stretched…mountain-moving faith!

“And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:22-23).

To survive in today’s world, you need faith—but the right kind of faith. Not flawed faith that “fizzles in the end.” That isn’t really faith at all, is it? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality—faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses” (Amplified).

Romans 12:3 says, “…God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” You have received a measure of faith! If you want to develop your faith, you have to exercise it. What does that mean? “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Can you develop your faith simply by going to church and listening to good preaching? Yes, you can increase your faith that way. But relying solely on your sense of hearing will not turn your faith into mountain-moving faith. You must hear the Word of God with your heart!

Hearing the Word of God is not the same as listening to it. Hearing goes beyond the physical act. It engages the heart—and it begins, not with the ear, but with the eye. If you want to develop mountain-moving faith, you must be in the Word every day. You must read it and let God speak to you through it. From there, you begin to latch onto truths that impact you, and you step out in faith.

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The Machal

The Machal

Israel’s quest for independence was greatly aided by the Machal or Mitnadvei ChutzLa’Arets (Volunteers from Outside Israel). This was a group of volunteers, approximately 3,500 strong, who hailed from at least 37 different countries. Young and old, they answered the rallying cry of the young nation surrounded by enemies determined to destroy every man, woman, and child. Some of them were Jewish, many were Believers, and some were simply interested in the cause of freedom for Israel.

The Jewish Underground in European countries and other far-flung places during the war produced a number of volunteers eager to aid the Israelis in their quest for autonomy in their new homeland. World War II veterans joined with the newborn Israel Defense Forces, who linked arms to enable ships loaded with Holocaust survivors to avoid blockades set up by the British navy. The proficiency and experience brought by these men and women made a critical difference in getting as many survivors as possible to the Holy Land.

They also made a huge contribution to the outcome of Israel’s War for Independence. The training provided in every area—infantry, air force, navy, artillery, health, and communication—was a key to Israel’s success against an overwhelming foe. This war was truly of a tiny Jewish David versus the Arab Goliath. In its infancy, Israel was forced to fight for its life against the monolithic machine stationed at its borders, and it needed the help of every able-bodied volunteer. Israeli soldiers referred to the volunteers from outside Israel—Americans and Canadians— as the Machlaniks. The enlistees saw firsthand the devastation to the Jews who had taken the burden of fatalities from the enemy armies of five surrounding countries. Relative to the number of inhabitants, Israel’s losses during the War of Independence were “five times higher than the number of American combat deaths in World War II.”

Some estimate the death toll at 6,000—approximately one-tenth of the Jewish population at that time. By contrast, America lost approximately three-tenths of a percent of her population during World War II. The volunteers arrived with drive and determination and with an undeterred dedication to defend the newly created Jewish homeland. Some fought with the Haganah, the underground army, with Palmach, an elite division of the underground, and ultimately with the Israel Defense Forces, but each put their life on the line to assist the Jewish people.

“The Machal forces were the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel.”

David Ben-Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel

After the battles had been fought and independence won, many of the Machal stayed on to marry, raise families, and become productive and resolute citizens of the State of Israel. Sons and daughters followed in their footsteps as members of the IDF, defending their nation.

American Jews who wanted to serve were discouraged from doing so. At that time, Israel had few friends, including the United States. An embargo was in place to prevent military materiel being shipped to the fledgling nation. Americans traveling abroad had their passports stamped with: “This passport is not valid for travel to or in any foreign state for the purpose of entering or serving in the armed forces of such a state.”

Those Americans who did attempt to fight alongside the Israelis faced an attempt to intimidate with the threat of losing their citizenship. Americans who chose to ignore the warning had their citizenship put on hold while they served. If taken hostage by the Arab enemies, U.S. servicemen could expect no assistance from the United States and could claim no rights as American citizens. Few other countries placed such harsh restrictions on volunteers who aided the Israelis.

These determined volunteers were forced to travel a complex route to get to the Holy Land. The first leg of the journey was made by ship or airplane to either France or Italy. Once in Europe they were forced to spend weeks or months in camps for displaced persons until passage could be arranged to Haifa. The last leg of the journey was often made on an outdated tramp steamer or ship refitted to carry cargo with the most primitive of facilities. The travelers were in constant danger—either because of the rusting hulks or the Arab enemy.

Among the many who gave selfless assistance to the Israeli army and air force were: David Daniel “Mickey” Marcus, a graduate of West Point and later Commissioner of Corrections for New York City, who according to the Jewish Virtual Library: “wrote the first Israeli field manual on tactics and tragically died during the fight to open a new road to Jerusalem when he was accidentally shot by an Israeli sentry.” Marcus was later immortalized by Hollywood in the movie “Cast a Giant Shadow.”

Paul Shulman, an Annapolis alumnus, commanded the Israeli navy. His fleet numbered just three ships. Harry “Freddy” Fredkens was returned to England by David Ben-Gurion to clandestinely purchase aircraft for the newly christened Israeli Air Force. He was able to secure several trainers as well as Norseman light transport planes. Jack Freedman, a British citizen, was an excellent airplane mechanic and flight engineer. He was tapped to use his expertise to prepare the older-model planes for flight. It was Freedman who cobbled together Israel’s first Spitfire. It was assembled from parts of abandoned Royal Air Force planes following the British withdrawal from Palestine. The plane was test flown by Boris Senior of South Africa, a World War II pilot who also volunteered his services to fly airplanes to Israel from their purchase sites.

In America, Al Schwimmer, a TWA flight engineer, left his job to act as purchasing agent to secure much-needed airplanes. He helped to organize the Israeli Air Force’s Air Transport Command (ATC), the group that flew aircraft from Czechoslovakia to Israel, a major accomplishment. It was IAF pilots who were able to halt the Egyptian army’s momentum toward Tel Aviv.

Major General Herzle Bodinger, commander of the IAF from 1992 to 1996, said of the Machal airmen who flew so bravely into the battle during the War of Independence: “The non-Israeli aircrews played a decisive role, both in achieving Air Force objectives and in laying its organizational foundation. The legacy of their special contribution accompanies us to this day.”

During the course of the conflict, at least 119 Machal volunteers died in battle; four were women, and seven were Gentiles from the United States and Canada: George “Buzz” Beurling, Leonard Fitchett, Fred Stevenson, Glenn King, Bill Edmondson, Spencer Boyd, and Oliver G. Holton. All fought bravely for the right of the Jewish people to return to their homeland in Palestine. The outcome might have been terribly different had it not been for an illicit infusion of military supplies, including machine guns, rifles, and ammunition from (what was then the united country of) Czechoslovakia near the end of May 1948. It was a blessing for the under-armed Israelis and a monetary boon for the cash-strapped Czechs.

By the time the long, bitter battle finally ceased in January 1949, Palestinians by the hundreds of thousands fled to surrounding countries upon orders from the Arab leaders, who had visions of a triumphant return after routing the Jews. Following the deadly confrontation, Israeli leaders made the first of many succeeding attempts to forge a lasting peace with their Arab neighbors; no one would respond. There was no partner for peace. Arab inflexibility alone was responsible—then and now—for the continuing wars and unrest.

There is no doubt in the mind of any Jewish national who participated in the War for Independence that it was in large measure the various gifts, skills, experience, and passion of these brave and loyal volunteers from around the globe that brought them victory and sustained the fledgling State of Israel.

Lydia Christensen was a child of privilege. Born in Denmark in 1890 to wealthy parents, she achieved most of her life’s goals by the time she was 38. She became a teacher and pioneer in the field of home economics. She also enjoyed a loving relationship with Soren, another teacher, and was certain they were destined for marriage. Yet something was missing. Lydia later recalled: “There was a finality about it [marriage] that frightened me. Why should I have to fight that private reservation? Was there still something that was needed to make our lives complete? During the past year I had turned this question over in my mind a hundred times, but I had never been able to find any answer. Indeed, I had no idea where to look for one.”

Putting the question to Soren was perhaps the best thing Lydia could have done. He remarked that the emptiness inside her could be filled with religion and suggested she visit the Evangelical Mission nearby. Rather than take Soren’s suggestion, Lydia boarded the train the next morning to join her mother and siblings for the Christmas holidays. Though she had a wonderful visit, the inner turmoil continued to plague her even after she returned to her empty apartment in Korsor.

Sitting in her living room one cold afternoon, she opened her Bible to the book of Matthew. She read through the first six chapters but discovered that: “as I reached chapter 7, it was as though I came to a clearing, where the full, uninterrupted rays of the sun came streaming down upon me…. Somewhere ahead … there was a gate. Inside, there was a way that led to peace and fulfillment.”

During Bible study that fateful day, Lydia met the Prince of Peace and submitted her will and her life to the Lord Jesus Christ. After much prayer and seeking God’s will, Lydia felt that He was directing her to go to Jerusalem during the tumultuous days between the First and Second World Wars. On October 18, 1928, at the age of 38, Lydia landed in Tel Aviv with about $200 in her purse and then traveled eastward to Jerusalem.

There, she learned Arabic and founded a children’s home, becoming a mother to dozens of Jewish and Arab orphans, mainly girls. Lydia quietly ministered to Arab women in Jerusalem. When World War II broke out, she expanded her ministry to include British soldiers stationed in or visiting Jerusalem during the conflict.

One of the soldiers with whom Lydia came in contact was Derek Prince, a scholar of both philosophy and language. Though there was a 25- year age gap between the two (Lydia was the elder), they married and remained in Israel until its declaration of independence in 1948. After their marriage, she and Derek adopted eight of Lydia’s orphan girls. The Princes and their daughters returned to Britain, where they taught, ministered, and shepherded gatherings. Their service to various congregations took them to England, Canada, Africa, and finally to the United States, where they settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Derek Prince became a well-known Bible teacher with a successful radio ministry. His program, “Keys to Successful Living,” was heard in various languages worldwide. He was equally well-known for his service in the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International. Lydia was his helpmate in every way, working diligently in the ministry to help promote the Gospel. She suffered a debilitating stroke in 1975 and died in October of that year. Not only her family grieved her death, but people worldwide mourned the loss of the woman who had touched their lives over a span of 50 years—particularly those in Israel.

Just as the Machal responded to the desperate need of the nation of Israel in 1948, today we are faced with the challenge—and the opportunity— to take a stand for God’s Chosen People. The members of the Jerusalem Prayer Team are fighting a conflict that is just as real, even though by its nature a spiritual battle cannot be seen with our natural eyes.

Our prayers are a vital weapon in the struggle for control of the Holy City and the land of Israel. We must be faithful and diligent as we do our part to defend the Jewish people in our day.

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A Miracle in a Piggy Bank

A Miracle in a Piggy Bank

When Carolyn and I started out in our ministry, we had almost nothing. But we believed in what God wanted us to do. We were working with Jewish young people who were struggling with addiction and other issues. Many of them came from New York, and God began to burden my heart to work with them there rather than waiting for them to come to Texas. I went home one day and told Carolyn, “God has told me to buy a training center in New York City to assist Jewish kids coming off of drugs. I believe it will cost a million dollars, and I don’t know where we will get the money.”

Our total income the year before was $4,500. When I said I had no idea where the money would come from, I meant it. I didn’t have any resources. We were barely surviving. But we were happy in serving the Lord!

Our oldest daughter Michelle was five years old. She heard this conversation, and she said, “Daddy, I’ve got a million dollars in my piggy bank.” She went to her room and came back with her little bank. “I will give you the money. It’s here in my piggy bank!” I had tears in my eyes as we broke that bank open and counted out what was inside. It was $3.26.

Faith rose up in my heart. I took that money to the bank and opened an account to buy the training center. The teller asked me if I were crazy. He thought I had mental problems. I told him what God was going to do, and he laughed. He assured me the money would not be coming in. “You can’t pray money in, Reverend. You need to see a counselor!”

Every day I went to our center in Texas and prayed and fasted for a miracle. Sixteen weeks later, we deposited the final funds in the bank to reach the total of one million dollars so we could buy the building we needed. The banker apologized to me, but I knew the real secret. Michelle’s holy offering-her childish act of faith and Radical Generosity-had touched the heart of God and moved His hand to action.

Through the years, I have seen God richly bless those who have given generously to His work. When we give, we are not meeting a need God has. Everything already belongs to Him. When we give, we are expressing our faith. When we cling to everything we have, it really says that we do not trust God to meet our needs. A hoarding heart robs the owner of the opportunity to see God’s power displayed. It is only when we open our wallets and our hearts…both are vital…that we put ourselves in position to see God do things that are impossible to explain apart from His power.

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The Shield of Israel: The IDF

The Shield of Israel: The IDF

Since the miracle rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948, the nation has been fighting to survive. The first war started on the day independence was declared, and it has been raging off and on for more than 75 years now. Throughout that time, the Israel Defense Forces have been the shield of the nation. They have fought with courage and tenacity, often outnumbered by their enemies, and won victory after victory. Today the IDF is regarded as one of the premiere military forces in the entire world. But they have been sorely tested by the current war, both in its length and scope.

The Israeli cabinet ratified the name “Israel Defense Forces” , Tzva HaHagana LeYisra’el, which means “army for the defense of Israel,” on 26 May 1948. The Ground Forces, Air Force and Navy branches currently have about 170,000 active duty troops. In addition, there are more than 450,000 reservists, many of whom have been activated during the current war because of the scale of the operation required.

Current Israeli law requires military service for most Israeli citizens when they turn 18, though there are exceptions made for Arab citizens, Orthodox Jews, and others. Normal terms of service for young men are 32 months, although some specialized roles require a 36-month commitment. Normal terms for young women are 24 months, although again, certain positions come with a 36-month commitment. After completing their full time service, those who do not select a permanent military career become part of the reserve, subject to recall in times of crisis or war.

The IDF was forged in the fires of war. Again and again, the men and women of Israel have risked and given their lives. And it is still happening today.

Since the rebirth of Israel, Christian friends from around the world have been a vital part of Israel’s defense. Here is a look at some of the ways these Christian Zionists made a difference, helping to shape the IDF and ensure the fledgling Jewish state would survive…

 

Orde Charles Wingate 1903-1944

 

Major Orde Charles Wingate was a British officer who played a prominent role during World War II. Known for his unorthodox and innovative military tactics, Wingate’s leadership and unconventional approach left a lasting impact on the war effort, particularly in the campaigns in Burma (now Myanmar).

Wingate was born on February 26, 1903, in Naini Tal, India, to a military family. His father, Colonel George Wingate, served in the British Army. From an early age, Wingate was exposed to the military lifestyle and developed a keen interest in adventure and exploration. In 1921, Wingate joined the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, where he received formal military training. He showed exceptional talent and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British Army’s Royal Artillery in 1923. During his military career, Wingate served in various assignments in Sudan, Palestine, and other parts of the Middle East. It was in Palestine that Wingate’s unique approach to warfare and unconventional tactics began to emerge. He developed a deep admiration for the Jewish community and their struggle for statehood. Wingate recognized the need for specialized military units to combat guerilla warfare and insurgency, and he formed close relationships with Jewish underground organizations, such as the Haganah.

The Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization that played a crucial role in the establishment and defense of the State of Israel. Formed in the early 1920s, the Haganah operated under the British Mandate for Palestine and evolved into the primary defense force of the Jewish community during a period of political unrest and Arab-Jewish tensions. The roots of the Haganah can be traced back to the early Zionist settlements in Palestine.

As Jewish communities grew, they faced increasing hostility from Arab nationalists and sporadic violence. In response, Jewish residents organized self-defense groups to protect their communities and counter Arab attacks. These groups eventually merged to form the Haganah, which means “defense” in Hebrew. In its early years, the Haganah focused on training and preparedness, with an emphasis on developing military capabilities and intelligence networks. It operated quietly to evade the scrutiny of the British authorities who viewed Jewish military activities with suspicion. Wingate would soon adopt some of the group’s practices in his own efforts. Wingate’s ideas were met with skepticism by some within the military establishment, but he continued to develop and refine his strategies. In 1936, Wingate was assigned to lead the Special Night Squads. The Special Night Squads were a British military unit formed in Palestine during the Arab Revolt in the late 1930s. Led by Major Wingate, the squads were created to counter Arab attacks on Jewish settlements and to protect British interests in the region.

Palestinian Arabs felt increasingly marginalized as Jewish immigration surged, leading to tensions over land ownership and economic opportunities, along with antisemitic violence. The British administration’s perceived bias towards Jewish interests and their restrictions on Arab political activities further fueled discontent among the Arab population. The revolt began on April 19, 1936, with a general strike that paralyzed major cities and towns throughout Palestine. Arab workers, students, and merchants refused to go to work or attend British-run schools, demanding an end to Jewish immigration and land sales to Jews. The strike quickly escalated into violent confrontations between Arab demonstrators and British security forces.

The Arab Higher Committee (AHC), led by Haj Amin al-Husseini, emerged as the political leadership of the revolt. The AHC called for the boycott of British institutions and Jewish businesses, as well as the formation of local defense committees to confront the British authorities and Jewish settlements. The revolt spread across Palestine, with attacks on British police stations, railways, and Jewish settlements becoming more frequent. In response, the British formed the Special Night Squads as a specialized force to counter these attacks. The squads were composed of British soldiers, Jewish volunteers, and members of the Jewish settlement police.

Under Wingate’s leadership, the Special Night Squads conducted relentless hit-and-run operations against Arab guerrillas. They would patrol the countryside at night, ambushing Arab attackers, destroying their bases, and gathering intelligence on their movements. The squads often used small teams armed with machine guns, grenades, and explosives to carry out their operations swiftly and effectively. Wingate’s tactics emphasized mobility, surprise, and aggressive action. He recognized the importance of intelligence gathering and conducted thorough reconnaissance to stay one step ahead of the enemy. The Special Night Squads used their knowledge of the terrain and their ability to strike swiftly to gain a tactical advantage.

The Special Night Squads served as a precursor to Wingate’s later endeavors during World War II, particularly his leadership of the Chindits in Burma. The Chindits were a specialized British guerrilla force that operated in Burma (now Myanmar) during World War II. Led by Major General Orde Wingate, the Chindits conducted long-range penetration operations behind enemy lines, engaging in sabotage, disruption, and harassment of Japanese forces. Their unconventional tactics and ability to operate deep in enemy territory made them a unique and formidable force in the Burma campaign.

Tragically, Wingate’s life was cut short during the war. On March 24, 1944, Wingate was flying in a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 Mitchell bomber aircraft with a crew of four and several passengers, including American liaison officers and British staff members. Unfortunately, as it returned from a successful operation, the plane encountered severe weather conditions, including thick fog and heavy rain. The aircraft, named “Hotspur,” struck a mountainside in the region of Manipur, India, near the India-Burma border. It is believed the poor visibility and unfavorable flying conditions contributed to the crash. The crash resulted in the loss of all passengers and crew on board, including Wingate.

In May 1948, as Arab armies threatened the newly formed State of Israel with extinction, Wingate’s wife, Lorna, and their son Orde Jonathan boarded a small plane to fly over the Israeli settlement Yemin Orde, named after their late husband and father. At the moment the plane entered the airspace over the village, a large group of Syrians attacked. In her hand, Lorna held her husband’s Bible— the one that had accompanied him on all his travels and assignments. On its flyleaf, she wrote:

7 May ’48. To the defenders of Yemin Orde: Since Orde Wingate is with you in spirit, though he cannot lead you in the flesh, I send you the Bible he carried in all his campaigns and from which he drew inspiration of his victories. May it be a covenant between you and him, in triumph or defeat, now and always.

After signing her name, Lorna Wingate flung the Bible from the window of the small plane. Retrieved by an Israeli fighter, it inspired men in the ditches below to repel their attackers. Wingate was one of the mighty men of Israel, and his deeds are woven through the history of the rebirth of that nation. In 1958, Lorna and her two children were invited to the residence of the Israeli Ambassador to the Court of St. James. The leaders of the fledgling nation wished to pay tribute to her husband for his support during the fight for independence by posthumously awarding him the Defense Medallion. Jonathan Wingate, their eldest child, was presented with the Medallion in the name of his father, Orde Charles Wingate.

He recognized the potential of a Jewish state and actively advocated for Jewish settlement and defense against Arab attacks.

 

 

John Henry Patterson 1867-1947

 

John Henry Patterson was a British Army officer and colonial administrator who played a significant role in various military campaigns and colonial activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best known for his leadership and involvement in the construction of the Uganda Railway and his efforts in leading the Tsavo Man-Eaters incident.

Patterson was born on November 10, 1867, in Forgney, County Westmeath, Ireland. Raised in a family with a strong military tradition, Patterson’s early life was shaped by a sense of duty, discipline, and a desire for adventure. Patterson received his early education at King William’s College on the Isle of Man, where he excelled academically and displayed leadership qualities. Following his schooling, he embarked on a military career by enrolling at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England. There, he underwent rigorous training, honing his skills in various aspects of military tactics and strategy.

After graduating from Sandhurst, Patterson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British Army. His early assignments included postings in Ireland and Egypt, where he gained practical experience and demonstrated his abilities as a capable and resourceful officer. Patterson’s first major opportunity to showcase his leadership came during the construction of the Uganda Railway in East Africa.

He was selected to oversee the challenging task of building a railway line that would connect the interior of East Africa with the Indian Ocean. This ambitious project involved navigating hostile terrain, combating diseases, and managing a large labor force comprising African workers and Indian immigrants. Patterson’s strong organizational skills, innovative thinking, and ability to adapt to difficult circumstances were instrumental in the successful completion of the railway.

During his time in Africa, Patterson encountered one of the most memorable challenges of his career—the infamous Tsavo Man-Eaters. These were a pair of notorious maneless male lions that terrorized railway workers in Tsavo, Kenya, during the construction of the Uganda Railway. The attacks by the Tsavo lions occurred between March and December 1898 when the railway workers were constructing a bridge over the Tsavo River. The lions were estimated to have killed as many as 135 people, although the exact number remains uncertain. The man-eating lions were characterized by their unusually large size and lack of manes, a rare trait in male lions. After several failed attempts, Patterson managed to kill both lions. The skulls and skins of the Tsavo lions were eventually acquired by the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where they remain on display.

Patterson’s military career extended beyond Africa. He served in the First World War, where he commanded a battalion of the Jewish Legion, a unit comprised of Jewish volunteers. The Jewish Legion, also known as the Zion Mule Corps, was a military unit formed during World War I as part of the British Army. It was composed primarily of Jewish volunteers from various parts of the world who were committed to the Zionist cause and sought to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

The idea of creating a Jewish fighting force was initially proposed by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a prominent Zionist leader, in 1914. Jabotinsky believed that Jews should establish their own state and actively fought against anti-Semitism and discrimination. In response to violent anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia, Jabotinsky established the Jewish Self-Defense Organization in 1903. He believed that Jews needed to be able to protect themselves physically and advocated for the establishment of a Jewish fighting force.

In 1917, the British War Office approved the formation of the Jewish Legion. The unit consisted of three battalions, with a total strength of approximately 5,000 soldiers. The volunteers hailed from various backgrounds, including Palestine, Russia, America, Canada, and other parts of the British Empire. The Jewish Legion was involved in several military campaigns during World War I. Its first significant engagement was in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, where the unit fought against the Ottoman Empire. The Legion participated in the Battle of Gallipoli, the Battle of Megiddo, and various other operations in the region. Their efforts played a crucial role in the British victory and the eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.

The formation of the Jewish Legion was significant for several reasons. First, it was a tangible representation of Jewish military power and the desire for self determination. Second, it allowed Jews from different backgrounds to unite under a common cause and fight for their own interests. The Jewish Legion also had a profound impact on Jewish identity and self-perception. It provided a sense of pride and empowerment for Jewish soldiers who were able to serve under their own flag and fight for their own homeland. The experience of serving in the Legion fostered a strong sense of camaraderie and solidarity among its members.

Furthermore, the Jewish Legion played a diplomatic role in advancing the Zionist cause. Its existence demonstrated to the international community that Jews were willing and capable of defending their rights and homeland. The Legion’s efforts helped garner support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, as it showcased Jewish military capability and commitment. After World War I, the Jewish Legion was disbanded, but its legacy lived on. Many of its former members went on to become influential figures in the Zionist movement and played pivotal roles in the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The Jewish Legion paved the way for subsequent Jewish defense organizations, such as the Haganah, which eventually evolved into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Patterson was a staunch supporter of Zionism and played a pivotal role in advocating for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. His efforts earned him the respect and admiration of the Jewish community. Throughout his life, Patterson displayed a deep sense of adventure, dedication to duty, and a passion for exploration. He wrote several books, including his memoir “The Man-Eaters of Tsavo” and “With the Zionists in Gallipoli,” where he documented his experiences and shared his perspectives on the events he witnessed. “With the Zionists in Gallipoli” recounted his experiences leading the Zion Mule Corps during World War I. The book provided a firsthand account of the Zion Mule Corps’ involvement in the Gallipoli Campaign and shed light on the aspirations and challenges faced by the Jewish volunteers who fought under Patterson’s command.

After retiring from the military, Patterson settled in California, where he spent his final years. He continued to be involved in Zionist activities and advocacy for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In 1946, Patterson suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Despite his health condition, he remained dedicated to his cause and continued to support the Zionist movement.

On June 18, 1947, Patterson passed away at his home in California at the age of 75. Patterson felt he had a front-row seat to the fulfillment of prophetic scriptures and promises from God. Although he died almost a year before his vision for the rebirth of Israel was fulfilled on May 14, 1948. Patterson’s funeral was held in California, and his body was later transported to Israel, where he had expressed his desire to be buried. His funeral in Israel was attended by prominent figures and dignitaries, including David Ben-Gurion, who would later become the first Prime Minister of Israel.

In accordance with his wishes, Patterson was buried in the military cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The funeral ceremony for Patterson was attended by British military personnel, Zionist leaders, and members of the Jewish community. The event represented the bond between Patterson, the Zionist cause, and the emerging Jewish state. Patterson’s burial was conducted with full military honors, paying tribute to his military service and his contributions to the Zionist movement. The ceremony included gun salutes, military processions, and the presence of high-ranking officials. During the burial, symbolic gestures were made to honor Patterson’s commitment to the Jewish cause. The Israeli flag was draped over his casket, and Jewish religious customs were observed.

 

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