Our Friend Stephen Miller

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 (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

It is being reported tonight that Stephen Miller will serve as a special advisor to President-Elect Trump in the White House. I first saw the news reported in the Jerusalem Post (here). The Post article had quite a negative tone, labeling Mr. Miller a "firebrand" and the primary source of President-Elect Trump's "dark vision". His strong pro-Israel views were only alluded to at the very end of the article. Just as an aside, this is so typical of how low the Jerusalem Post has recently sunk. You would think that a publication with "Jerusalem" in its title might give a little priority to a person's view on Israel over, I don't know, their views on contraception and Mexico. Just sayin'.

I actually met Stephen Miller before he was so famous - although I always knew he would be. I was a campus rabbi in North Carolina, splitting my time between University of North Carolina and Duke University, where Stephen was an undergraduate student. One night I decided to drive over to the Duke Campus for a viewing of the Clarion Project's "Obsession" - a documentary about radical Islam's threat to the world. When I entered the auditorium, I quickly scoped out the crowd to see if I recognized any familiar faces. A few Jewish students saw me and graciously motioned me over to join them. The movie was introduced by Miller, who had organized showings of "Obsession" on approximately 30 other college campuses in addtion to Duke. I heard his name - "Miller", I thought, maybe he's Jewish. So I asked the students sitting with me if they knew him and if he was Jewish. "Oh yeah, he's Jewish. What an embarrassment". The other liberal Jewish college students concurred with this seemingly obvious assessment. My thought was the polar opposite - I have to meet him! This guy has endless potential! 

I contacted Stephen on facebook and set up a coffee meeting. When we sat down, I asked him my regular question: Are you involved with any Jewish life on campus? I can still hear his response today: No way, you think I can go to the Hillel. Those people hate me. What about back in California, was your family involved with a synagogue? Yeah, but I can't go there. All the rabbi (sic) does is espouse liberal values and rail against conservatives like me. 

Here I was sitting with a proud Jew with clearly endless leadership potential and he is telling me that he feels exiled from the organized Jewish Community because of his conservative political beliefs. I assured him that not only was nothing wrong with him, there were many Jews who agreed with him and would gladly welcome him. 

As the semester concluded, Stephen and a friend embarked on a previously-planned Birthright Israel trip. I offered Stephen that if they extended their stay after the trip, I would show them some very important stuff not yet on the Birthright itinerary. During those few days, we traveled to Hevron, visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs and ventured in the "muslim quarter" of the Old City of Jerusalem to see the many reclaimed Jewish-owned properties, we toured the famous Western Wall tunnels and even got to meet Rabbi Raphael Shore - the man who made the movie "Obsession"!!! In a subequent email, Stephen thanked me for my efforts to show them around and remarked that "putting on the Tefilin at Machpelah was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life."

Does that sound like someone who isn't proud to be Jewish? NO it does not! Does that sound like someone we would want to have the President's ear? You bet!! There are liberal "Jewish" organizations that are planning to boycott an upcoming Hanukah Party because its in one of Donald Trump's many properties. What fools! They don't realize how much has changed. They, with their political and religious deficiencies, have become irrelevant to the powers that be. A new generation has arisen that didn't worship FDR. 

Stephen Miller is not just my friend, he's not just our friend, HE IS US! He is part of that new proud generation, no longer relegated to the fringe. His appointment is spectacular news for the Jewish People and he should be blessed with everything to do great things! 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem