NYC Mayor to Promote Tolerance On Israel Trip

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to depart Thursday evening for a 3-day solidarity visit to Israel. He will be arriving Friday afternoon.

The purpose of the trip is a keynote speech on anti-Semitism at the 30th annual Conference of Mayors at the Hilton in Tel Aviv on Sunday. But the recent flare up in violence against Israelis is likely to give more meaning to the trip.

The NYC Mayor is also expected to join students of a coexistence Jewish-Arab school, Hand in Hand, for a field trip to an olive grove near a kibbutz west of Jerusalem, a spokesperson for the mayor told Jewish Insider. The school, where Arab, Palestinian and Israeli children study together in Hebrew and Arabic, was the target of an arson attack last year.

De Blasio, a national progressive leader, initially looked into visiting a US-funded school in Ramallah but decided against it for security reasons.

“Building inclusivity and tolerance between all of the region’s people is critical to achieving peace — and there’s no better place to start than with kids, through programs like Hand in Hand,” De Blasio’s spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said in a statement.

Contrary to media reports, an administration official told Jewish Insider that de Blasio never intended to meet with Palestinian officials during the trip. He is expected to meet with several Israeli officials and visit the Western Wall, before returning to NYC Sunday evening.

The trip is being funded by Israeli entrepreneur Baruch Eliezer Gross. Several Jewish leaders are expected to join him in Israel.

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