Northeast Mississippi man has personal connection to Israel

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – While most of us have been watching events unfold in Israel through news broadcasts, a Northeast Mississippi man has personal connections to the Holy Land.

John Riley has also taken more than 30 trips to Israel and he is known to many.

He produces a weekly program, that breaks down the news coming out of the Middle East. Riley’s mother was Jewish. So, he also has a personal interest and deep connections to Israel.

“I have family all over the land of Israel from top to the bottom,” he said.

He has also taken more than 30 trips to Israel. So, when he learned about the Hamas attacks on October 7, he was shocked.

“My heart was devastated as things were unfolding. The brutality of Hamas and what they did to the Jewish people. It’s something that I don’t think any of us who have families can comprehend,” Riley said.

Riley began contacting his family members and friends across Israel.

“I did not have a lot of family members who were in the kibbutz area along the Gaza border, but family members were in other parts of the country where rockets were heading as well. I contacted them, and they’re all doing fine. But even to this day, they’re doing good, obviously, feeling fatigued, from this ongoing war there. Life is not back to normal in Israel,” he said.

And while Israel has been the target of attacks in the past, Riley said the October 7 attack was different in its scope and brutality. Riley also said he was glad hostages were being released, but he was also skeptical.

“It’s good news hostages are coming home. They want Hamas to release all hostages. But you are always a little suspect in a brutal regime like Hamas. Why they are doing this, maybe to hold off on war, to recap what they’re doing so they can rest a little bit,” Riley said.

Riley said he was eager to get back to Israel. He may plan a trip there next year. In the meantime, he will stay in touch with friends and family.

Riley said there was a need for people to pick produce in Israel. He said the attacks by Hamas disrupted much of the agriculture industry in Israel. The country grows most of its own produce.

For 24/7 news and updates, follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Categories: Featured, Local News