Biden appoints TV star to run heritage preservation commission

Trump officials criticized the appointment of Jones, just weeks before Paul Packer's term was supposed to end in February.

Mikheil Batiashvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, and Paul Packer, Chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, sign a Memorandum of Understanding in Tiblisi this week (photo credit: GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT)
Mikheil Batiashvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, and Paul Packer, Chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, sign a Memorandum of Understanding in Tiblisi this week
(photo credit: GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT)

President Joe Biden appointed TV personality Star Jones to run a government agency that is tasked with protecting mostly Jewish sites of historic significance to the United States in Europe. 

Jones, a lawyer and former host of The View, was selected to chair the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, in place of Paul Packer who was appointed to the role by former President Donald Trump. 

In addition to her role on the commission, Jones is slated to become a judge on the TV show “Divorce Court” this coming fall. 

Television personality Star Jones speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016.  (credit: REUTERS/GARY CAMERON)Television personality Star Jones speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016. (credit: REUTERS/GARY CAMERON)

Trump officials criticized the appointment of Jones, just weeks before Packer's term was supposed to anyhow end in February. Instead, the White House sent him a letter on Friday ordering him to either resign by the end of the day or be terminated. 

 “Paul’s term was set to expire the end of February. His early termination by the Biden Administration was unprecedented, mean-spirited and decidedly not in the interests of the United States," said David Friedman, the former US ambassador to Israel. "Paul should have been given the time allotted to him to complete his important work.”

During Packer’s term he led efforts to get various countries to preserve Jewish heritage sites that within their borders. 

In 2020, 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.