Ronald Lauder pumps $25 million into fight against anti-Semitism in US politics

Philanthropist and WJC chief says non-profit Anti-Semitism Accountability Project will be apolitical, go after cultural figures who traffic in anti-Semitic language, tropes

Ronald Lauder attends the 47th International Emmy Awards gala at the Hilton New York, in New York, November 25, 2019. (Evan Agostini/ Invision/AP)
Ronald Lauder attends the 47th International Emmy Awards gala at the Hilton New York, in New York, November 25, 2019. (Evan Agostini/ Invision/AP)

JTA — Billionaire philanthropist Ronald Lauder is funding a $25 million campaign against political candidates in the United States who support or normalize anti-Semitism.

Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, announced the new campaign, called the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project, or ASAP, on Monday. The effort will include a nonprofit organization and a super PAC.

Lauder will have the final say on which politicians — federal, state and local — will be targeted for defeat, according to The New York Times.

He is a longtime Republican donor, but Lauder told the newspaper he planned to use the organization to go after both Democrats and Republicans who traffic in anti-Semitic language and tropes.

A statement announcing the launch of ASAP said it would “also respond and take action against institutions and cultural figures who support anti-Semitism.” Lauder also told The Times that he would look into universities and their professors, and pressure them to stop anti-Semitic statements and actions by contacting major donors.

ASAP will partner with existing organizations that are working across the country to combat anti-Semitism, the statement said, and encouraged contact from those groups through its website.

The launch comes in response to a documented surge in anti-Semitism across America, according to the statement. According to a poll commissioned by ASAP and conducted by Douglass Schoen of Schoen Consulting, anti-Semitism has doubled over the past five years. Today, 14 percent of Americans hold anti-Semitic beliefs, as compared to 7 percent from a survey released by the Anti-Defamation League in 2014.

The poll used the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Lauder told The Times that he has hired teams of researchers to follow political races across the country “from the most local to the major ones” to track anti-Semitic comments.

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