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Ronald Lauder is funding a $25 million campaign against antisemitism in US politics

By Marcy Oster

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

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 antisemitism.” Lauder also told The Times that he would look into universities and their professors, and pressure them to stop antisemitic statements and actions by contacting major donors.

ASAP will partner with existing organizations that are working across the country to combat antisemitism, 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 antisemitism 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.

Main Photo: Ronald Lauder, seen in 2015, is a longtime Republican donor, but said his new group would go after both Democrats and Republicans who traffic in anti-Semitic language and tropes. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company,)

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