NYC Mayor to Visit Israel Next Weekend

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to visit Israel next weekend, his first trip to the Jewish State since assuming office in January 2014.

According to City Hall, de Blasio will keynote the Annual Conference of Mayors in Jerusalem on Sunday, October 18. In his speech, the mayor will address the rise of anti-Semitism and how cities must lead on this issue.

The Conference is being hosted by the American Jewish Congress, American Council for World Jewry, and World Forum of Russian-Speaking Jewry, and will bring together dozens of mayors from around the world to discuss the issues and challenges facing cities.

An initiative, ‘Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism’, was launched by the American Jewish Committee in July. De Blasio, addressing the AJC New York Region annual meeting in June, called for an “unmistakable and consistent” response to acts of anti-Semitism in Europe. Anti-Semitism “is the cancer that never went away,” said de Blasio. “That cancer was not eradicated at the end of World War II.”

De Blasio was supposed to travel to Israel in the summer. In an interview with The NY Times back in March, the mayor announced his intention to visit the Jewish State, citing anti- Semitic incidents and terror attacks against Jewish communities in Europe. After visiting Paris following the Hyper Cacher attack, he said the incident had alarmed him personally, emphasizing the importance of defending Jewish communities from his office in City Hall. But he later postponed the visit.

The mayor will depart New York City late Thursday evening and arrive in Israel Friday afternoon, and leave Sunday night. The trip will not cost taxpayers a dime, according to the Mayor’s office, despite travelling for governmental purposes. An Israeli entrepreneur, Baruch Eliezer Gross, has offered to cover the cost of the entire trip as a contribution to the city.

“I’m honored to join Mayor de Blasio in his fight against anti-Semitism and in support of tolerance. New York City can provide other cities with a model for protecting all communities against hate,” Mr. Gross, CEO of Besadno, a leading Israeli incubator and start-up firm, told Jewish Insider. “I look forward to the Mayor’s visit and his remarks in Jerusalem.”

It is still unknown whether the mayor will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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