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They are not well-known to the public, but from behind the scenes Paul Packer and Aryeh Lightstone, both of whom were appointed by President Donald Trump, are making a difference.
Packer serves as chairman of the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, an appointment he received in 2017.
Lightstone serves as the senior adviser to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. He has worked behind the scenes on all of the US-Israel initiatives over the last three years: recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the rollout of the “Deal of the Century.” Like Packer, Lightstone is religiously observant and hails from Long Island. The two knew each other before they joined the administration.
Lightstone played a key role in the UAE-Israel normalization deal and was involved in the high-level talks that culminated in the historic agreement. When Trump announced the deal to the world from the Oval Office, Lightstone was in the room with him.
Packer has spent the last three years leading efforts to get various countries to preserve Jewish heritage sites that within their borders. In August, for example, he visited Kazakhstan and got the government there to add the gravesite of Levi Yitzhak Schneerson, a leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidic movement, to its list of national heritage sites. A year earlier, he got Georgia to sign a memorandum of understanding under which the country will partner with the US to renovate an ancient Jewish cemetery. And while Packer has been in his position, several Eastern European countries have adopted Holocaust studies curricula in their schools, as well as the IHRA definition of antisemitism that also includes references to anti-Zionism as veiled antisemitism.
What Packer and Lightstone have in common is that both are the ultimate loyalists, serving their bosses without interest in publicity or exposure.
Lightstone has traveled countless times between Jerusalem and Washington at his boss’s behest, sometimes for a single day, just to participate in a meeting at the White House or to pass on a message that could not be relayed electronically. When Friedman is not in Israel, Lightstone has often filled in for him in meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others.
But while both men might not appear in the headlines, their influence and reach is widespread and certainly felt in Washington, DC. If Trump wins in November, don’t be surprised if they play an even greater role in the next administration.
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠