Paul Packer, Aryeh Lightstone: Don't underestimate their power, reach

#28: Paul Packer & Aryeh Lightstone

Aryeh Lightstone & Paul Packer (photo credit: US EMBASSY/MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Aryeh Lightstone & Paul Packer
There is no shortage of high-profile Jewish members in the Trump administration. There is Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin; the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and his senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller.
Paul Packer and Aryeh Lightstone are two Trump appointments that might be less known to the wider Israeli and American public but are in no shortage of influence.
Packer, 48, serves as chairman of the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, an appointment he received from President Donald Trump in 2017.
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Lightstone, 39, serves as the senior adviser to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and 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 current dialogue going on regarding the “Deal of the Century.”
Like Packer, Lightstone is observant and hails from Long Island. The two knew each other before they joined the administration.
Prior to taking up his role, Lightstone developed innovative education programs and worked as a regional director for NCSY. He has rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University .
Packer led efforts to get mostly European countries to up their commitment to preserve Jewish heritage sites. In August, for example, he visited Georgia and signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which the two countries will partner to renovate an ancient Jewish cemetery.
Packer was also involved in uncovering and reburying 1,214 Jewish bodies discovered earlier this year in Brest, one of the largest mass graves discovered in Belarus from World War II.
At the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York in 2018, Packer said that the Trump administration was committed to preserving heritage worldwide as “key in the fight against antisemitism.”
Lightstone has traveled countless times back and forth between Jerusalem and Washington on 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.
While Packer and Lightstone might be quiet and far from the headlines, don’t underestimate their influence and reach. It is worth keeping an eye on both of these US officials and the positions they might get if Trump keeps the White House in November 2020.