Amazing legacy

While Prince William will get to view the Holy Land for only a few days, his family’s legacy will be instilled here forever.

Former President Shimon Peres visits the Friends of Zion Museum (photo credit: COURTESY FRIENDS OF ZION)
Former President Shimon Peres visits the Friends of Zion Museum
On Tuesday, Prince William and his delegation historically toured the Holy Land, marking the first-ever official visit to the State of Israel by a British Royal Family member since Israel’s founding in 1948. Though, this event is significant in the eyes of historians, the long alliance of Israel and Great Britain starts with one of the Prince’s relatives and continues with many great fellow-Englishmen. The story of Britain’s “friends of Zion” begins with the legendary Queen Victoria and her desire to explore the Holy Land.
In 1865, Queen Victoria gave her royal blessing to the Palestine Exploration Fund, a group of prominent academics and clergymen, whom undertook demanding and precise projects which were ultimately vital to the development of the future State of Israel. The Palestine Exploration Fund’s research was truly significant and eventually gave the Jewish people the knowledge needed in order to give them a head start in understanding their homeland when it was time to return.
The revolutionary achievements of the Palestine Exploration Fund extended over many disciplines, covering: Middle Eastern geography, Canaanite and Hebrew archaeology, several millenia of history, ancient cultural understanding, Israel’s diverse topography, geology and in the natural sciences. Some of the more well-known projects of the Palestine Exploration Fund included excavations in Jerusalem from 1867-1870, surveys of the western front of the Jordan River from 1871-1878, and the excavations in Tell el-Hesi from 1890-1893 (near present-day Kiryat Gat) which contained findings of many Neolithic as well as Hellenistic remains.

The Palestine Exploration Fund were full of many recognized figures, comprising of the Dean of Westminster Abbey, Arthur Stanley, Sir George Grove, Sir Charles Warren, Gottlieb Schumacher and Sir William Flinders Petrie. There were also many members whose historical contribution was significant in the Land of Israel in addition to other major Middle Eastern events, such as T.E. Lawrence. Known as “Lawrence of Arabia” from the after-the-fact famous film with Peter O’Toole, T.E. Lawrence and Sir Leonard Woolley were the main researchers at to the archeological survey of the Wilderness of Zin from 1913-1914.
Before World War I, the Jewish people were steadily returning to the Land of Israel, though when the fighting started, they took the side of the Allied Powers. Many Jews saw the opportunity to gain sovereignty in their land through joining the British army. Lt.-Col. John Patterson, a Christian Zionist, commanded this later formed Jewish unit first called the Zion Mule Corps., later known as “the first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millenia.” Patterson led his troops at the famous Battle of Gallipoli, where in the trenches the Jewish fighters succeeded to impress their British allies and became an official sect of the British army, titled the 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. Lt.-Col. Patterson is today known as the Godfather of today’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as well as the namesake of Yonatan (Jonathan) Netanyahu, whom was killed in the heroic mission of Entebbe and the older brother of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.
Featured in the Friends of Zion Museum as someone who stood shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish people is Captain Orde Wingate. As a British Intelligence Officer in British Mandatory Palestine in the 1930s, Wingate felt an emotional attachment to the Land of Israel and the people of Israel. During the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt, Wingate saw the night attacks that local Arabs used against nearby Jewish towns, he decided not to be a bystander. Wingate trained small, mobile militias of Jewish fighters to defend their towns by taking the fight to the enemy instead of waiting for them to attack. Wingate did not just train but led these “Special Night Squads,” giving his strategic knowledge to soldiers and future leaders of Israel like Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon. If you mention Captain Orde Wingate in the streets of Tel Aviv or the markets of Jerusalem, Israelis will know that you are speaking about “the Friend,” a true ally of the Jewish people.
While Prince William will get to view the Holy Land for only a few days, his family’s legacy will be instilled here forever. On Tuesday, the Prince and his delegation toured Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum. Years ago, a tree was planted in honor of his great-grandmother Princess Alice, whom had saved a family of Greek Jews during the Holocaust. I wish Prince William a blessed tour of the Land of Israel, the Holy Land, we hope to hear about his experiences soon.
The writer is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with 89 published books. He is the founder of Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, of which the late Shimon Peres, was the chairman; FOZ opened in 2015 and has 44 million supports worldwide. Dr. Evans also continues to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship by serving on the Trump Faith Initiative.  •