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09 October 2015

NYC Mayor Bill "Blasé" de Blasio Heads to Israel to Discuss "Anti-Semitism"

Bill de Blasio to Travel to Israel Next Week, a Tradition for New York Mayors




Mayor Bill de Blasio will visit Israel next week for a three-day trip, his office said on Thursday, embarking on a familiar pilgrimage for New York City politicians.

The mayor is expected to depart next Thursday for Jerusalem, where he will speak about combating anti-Semitism to a gathering of mayors sponsored by the American Jewish Congress and other Jewish groups.

International travel has been a hallmark of Mr. de Blasio’s tenure, and this trip adds a third continent to his growing itinerary. Since taking office 21 months ago, the mayor has visited Europe four times, with stops in England, France and Italy, and crisscrossed the continental United States.

A voyage to Jerusalem, however, is a more-or-less-standard sojourn for political leaders of all ethnicities in New York, which has the largest Jewish population of any city besides Tel Aviv.

Mr. de Blasio has taken pains to improve his standing with the city’s Orthodox community and present himself as a spokesman for Jewish causes, speaking at synagogues, holding private meetings with rabbis and traveling to Paris in January after a terrorist attack on a Jewish grocery store there. But a trip to Israel represents his most concerted effort yet to deepen ties with Jewish constituents.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo — who, like Mr. de Blasio, is of Italian and Catholic heritage — traveled to Israel last year for a 29-hour visit. The mayor’s stay is likely to stretch longer: Mr. de Blasio is scheduled to arrive next Friday afternoon and is expected to hold several events before departing for New York the following Sunday evening.

Airfare, lodging and expenses for Mr. de Blasio and his aides will be paid by an Israeli investor and entrepreneur, Baruch Eliezer Gross, who was introduced to Mr. de Blasio through mutual friends, according to the mayor’s aides. Mr. Gross, who is Orthodox, is the founder of the Besadno Group, an investment firm with offices in Jerusalem and New York. Mr. Gross also owns an office and residence on Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, according to a spokesman for Mr. Gross, Ken Frydman.

The gift from Mr. Gross was approved by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, according to Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for the mayor. Costs for the mayor’s security detail, provided by the New York Police Department, will be paid by the city.

Mr. de Blasio’s staff had initially planned on an Israel trip the past summer, but the visit was delayed. Ms. Spitalnick said details of the mayor’s schedule in Israel were still being made final.