Story at a glance

  • Billionaire Ronald Lauder announced his donation of $25 million to start a nonprofit super PAC to fight anti-Semitism.
  • Lauder has noticed a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment and remarks, and intends to track it and extinguish it.
  • Lauder’s organization will target political candidates that condone anti-Semitism in order to keep them out of office.

The heir to a cosmetics empire, former diplomat, businessman, and current president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder announced his donation of $25 million to fight anti-Semitism in U.S. politics. The money will go toward creating an organization to combat anti-Semitism called the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project, or ASAP. Per the New York Times, the company will function as both a nonprofit and super political action committee (PAC).

Lauder is historically a Republican donor, even running against Rudy Giuliani for mayor of New York City in 1989 as a Republican candidate. He says he will use his organization to hold both Democratic and Republican leaders accountable for any anti-Semetic rhetoric or initiatives. 

“Although I am a lifelong Republican, anti-Semitism knows no political party,” Lauder said. 

The team behind ASAP underscores the bipartisan statement Lauder intends to make. ASAP is managed by Bradley Tusk through Tusk Strategies, a former campaign manager for Michael Bloomberg. Additionally, Doug Schoen, a Democratic pollster, and Nelson Warfield, a Republican strategist, are also on the team. 

Lauder and ASAP’s advocacy efforts have already started. A team of ASAP researchers are currently tracking political races everywhere in the U.S., both local and national. The analysts will be searching for any hints of anti-Semetic traffic in these campaigns and offices. This past fall, an ASAP poll revealed 14 percent of Americans believe the Holocaust was exaggerated and 18 percent believe Jews have “too much power in government.” 

Lauder’s plan to tackle what he sees as a resurging problem involves reaching out to politicians on both sides of the aisle. A longtime friend of President Donald Trump’s, Lauder will also want to incorporate help from influential Democrats, such as U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez. 

Some of ASAP’s other initiatives to raise awareness about government officials’ anti-Semitism will include ad campaigns and organized events against politicians that ASAP finds are supporting or condoning anti-Semitism. Lauder also implied that ASAP would inform and work with donors to boycott making contributions of offending candidates or sitting politicians. 

“Either stop it,'' Lauder stated, “or we’ll go after your donors.”

Published on Dec 10, 2019