If Netanyahu needs a cup of sugar, he can go to his new neighbor and borrow it, since he is on very good terms with him. James Packer, an Australian media and casino mogul who is listed as the fourth richest man in Australia, has recently purchased a villa next to the Netanyahu’s personal house in Caesaria.
Packer is not Jewish but it is believed that his introduction to Netanyahu and Israel was via Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan. Packer is very involved in Hollywood and has a motion picture financing company, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, in partnership with Brett Ratner.
“Spending time with Arnon and Prime Minister Netanyahu has been an amazing eye-opener for me and it reinforces how lucky we all are in Australia,’’ he told The Daily Telegraph columnist John Lehmann.
Though their relationship may be personal (Packer did not provide any funding for Netanyahu’s election campaign), he attended Netanyahu’s historic speech to a joint session of Congress in March, saying, “It was an honor to have been invited today to hear such a truly historic speech — he has the hardest job in the world.”
There have been inaccurate rumors that Packer has applied for Israeli citizenship, though his Jewish partner, Brett Ratner referred to him at an ADL event honoring him as “first non-Jewish Zionist in history.”
Though there have been no acquisitions announced, Packer has been investing more heavily outside of Australia and seeking opportunities in high-tech.
The Australian Business Review’s Sharri Markson writes that it is uncertain whether Packer’s sudden interest in Israel is motivated mainly by business or personal sentiments, “He has not converted to Judaism, and it’s not clear whether his interest in the country is purely business or whether there is an element of spirituality driving it.
What is clear that Packer has developed a deep affection for Israel, both for the people and the place.”