Prominent Australian businessman James Packer has not become an Israeli citizen, despite claims to the contrary, his office said in a statement on Thursday.
Packer is not Jewish, but his partner, Hollywood film producer Brett Ratner, said on Wednesday that Packer “recently became an Israeli citizen and happens to live next door to [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Ratner, who was speaking at a Beverly Hills dinner where he received an Anti-Defamation League Entertainment Industry Award, added: “James, you are now the first non-Jewish Zionist in history.”
Packer’s office denied Ratner’s statement after it was published in the Australian press. “James Packer is not Jewish,” a spokesman said. A similar statement was
issued by a spokesman for Ratner
No comment has been forthcoming from Israel.
It is unclear whether Ratner got it wrong or whether he had unwittingly revealed a secret, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote.
Packer’s decision to buy a house in Israel, and any further ties, have attracted attention because it’s unclear what his business interests are in the Middle East, the paper said.
Packer is increasingly focusing his personal business interests outside Australia.
Two years ago, Packer and Ratner formed Ratpac, a company that with Dune Capital and others has invested in Warner Bros movies including Gravity, American Sniper and The Lego Movie.
Speaking at the dinner, Ratner praised the Anti-Defamation League for the work it did. “The answer to anti-Semitism, bigotry and discrimination is not in the heavens,” he said. “It’s right here in this room. It’s the work of the ADL and all of us who support it.”