Just a week after announcing the establishment of a new antisemitism watchdog group, Ronald S. Lauder, the New York businessman and president of the World Jewish Congress told The Jerusalem Post that the operations are already underway.
Lauder has called the new organization the Antisemitism Accountability Project (ASAP) and has set aside $25 million of his own money to fund its operations. He told the Post that he was motivated to launch the new initiative due to the significant increase in antisemitism across the world, and because what is being done today – conferences and a lot of talking – is simply not enough.
“We need action,” he declared.
According to a poll commissioned by ASAP, antisemitism, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), has doubled over the past five years. Today, 14% of Americans hold antisemitic beliefs, as compared to 7% from a survey released by the Anti-Defamation League in 2014.
Lauder said that the rise in antisemitism is partially due to the fact that the world’s memory of the Holocaust is fading. “Many young people don’t know about it,” he said.
Lauder, 75, has served as president of the World Jewish Congress since 2007. He is the former US ambassador to Austria.
ASAP, he said, will be watching for antisemitism across the United States in universities, college classrooms as well as among politicians from the level of the city council, through the sheriff’s office, Congress and the highest office in the country.
When it comes to colleges, the organization will monitor for antisemitic pro-BDS bills as well as classes where professors or lecturers espouse antisemitism. Students, Lauder said, will monitor the classrooms and if there are lecturers who engage in antisemitism, “We will go after their reputation.”
When it comes to antisemitic politicians, Lauder said that ASAP would use tools as needed to “fight them in the ballots.”
“If we use the money correctly,” he said, “we can have a big impact.”
ASAP will use aggressive political campaigns against federal, state, and local candidates who support or normalize antisemitism. Lauder said that it will be a bipartisan effort that will focus on candidates from both parties who are on the ballot before or on Election Day in November 2020.
“No one who says something will be missed,” he said.
Asked about the Squad, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who are known for being anti-Israel, Lauder said that he plans to first reach out to the congresswomen. “I’m going to offer them to build bridges,” he said.But, he warned, if they don’t change, “We will go after them.”