The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, will visit Israel next weekend in his first official trip to the country since he took office in January 2014, his office was quoted as saying in U.S. media.
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According to the New York mayor's office, de Blasio is flying to Israel to participate in the Annual Conference of Mayors in Jerusalem on Sunday October 18, where he will deliver the keynote speech. According to Politico, the mayor is expected to talk about the rise of anti-Semitism and how cities must lead the fight against the phenomenon.
The Jerusalem conference is being held under the auspices of the American Jewish Congress, American Council for World Jewry, and World Forum of Russian-Speaking Jewry, the Jewish Insider reported, saying it would bring together scores of mayors from around the globe.
According to the report, a new initiative called Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism was launched by the American Jewish Committee in July, with De Blasio, addressing the group's New York branch's annual meeting in June, calling for an “unmistakable and consistent” response to acts of anti-Semitism. His comments came after a string of attacks in Europe targeted Jewish sites. At the time de Blasio labeled anti-Semitism a “cancer that never went away.”
According to the report De Blasio was supposed to travel to Israel this summer but later postponed the visit. He will depart New York City late Thursday evening and arrive in Israel Friday, staying until Sunday night. According to the report, Israeli businessman Baruch Eliezer Gross has offered to pay the trip's cost.