Virginia State Bar Association Israel Debacle Explained

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House ( and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives ( He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

As many of you have recently heard (or read on Arutz Sheva), the Virginia State Bar Association has done quite a royal job of embarrassing themselves and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia by abruptly cancelling their upcoming midyear legal seminar that what scheduled to take place in Jerusalem this coming fall. This was done just 2 days after sending out an email imploring more people to register. Even the best collection of shady lawyers wouldn't be able to explain their way out of this one. Since the official cancellation, which bizarrely was sent sent to a known anti-Israel outlet before it was sent to actual members of the bar, one dubious explanation after another has been offered as reason for the cancellation. 

What seems to have happened, although not totally clear until all the information will come out through a court order, is that a few, undoubtedly arab and/or leftist, members of the bar wantonly accused Israel of being a discriminatory entity (most likely against Arabs) and therefore not worthy of the Virginia State Bar Association's patronage. Besides woefully displaying both the arrogance and ignorance of those trusted with decision-making, this incredibly poor decision does have the ability to teach us some important lessons:

1)  Most Americans, even those that have high levels of education (like law degrees) are shockingly ignorant about the Middle East and easily deceived/manipulated by individuals with nefarious intentions (which is almost certainly the case here). 

2) This is the more important one. One of the factors, although unstated, that led to the cancellation was supposedly the lack of already-registered attendees. How many Jewish lawyers are there in Virginia? Certainly more than enough to fill-up registration for this seminar. When they heard it would be in Jerusalem, they should have jumped at the opportunity. The fact that they didn't is what gave our enemies the ability to manipulate the situation. Like unfortunately happens to often, we dropped the ball and the Ishmaelites and their allies were quick to help themselves to it. 

The last point is also very important for those of us living in Israel and/or are actively involved in the strengthening of the Jewish Presence throughout the Land of Israel. This past erev Shabbat, I was very happy to see advertisements for the sale of plots of land for eventual house construction in the communities of Otniel and Negohot (both in the Har Hevron area). These are private initiatives, not state-funded projects. The necessity of private individuals financing strategic projects cannot be emphasized enough! There is so much we can do, without the Government! Or even sometimes, despite the Government! There are numerous residential and commercial projects throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem just waiting for the financing to become reality, instead of relying and waiting on the Government! 

As we approach the holiday of Jewish Freedom, its time for all of us to take some personal responsibility without relying on others, whether its Bibi, Obama or the hapless jerk in-charge of the Virginia State Bar Association.

Chag Kasher v'Sameach,

Ben Packer

Old City of Jerusalem