(JTA) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will visit Israel to speak about ways to combat anti-Semitism.
De Blasio is to leave Thursday for Jerusalem, where he will be the keynote speaker at a conference of international mayors sponsored by the American Jewish Congress and other Jewish groups.
De Blasio, who has been trying to plan a trip to Israel since the summer, will stay approximately three days and hold several events, The New York Times reported.
The first-term mayor, a Catholic of Italian heritage, has made strengthening ties with his Jewish constituency a priority since taking office in January 2014. He has spoken at synagogues of various denominations and loosened restrictions on the controversial metzitzah b’peh circumcision ritual at the request of Orthodox Jews.
De Blasio also flew to France soon after the attack on a kosher market in Paris to “stand in solidarity” with world Jewry.
New York politicians regularly visit Israel, in part because of the city’s large Jewish population.
De Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, made headlines for traveling to Israel during the 2014 Gaza war and saying that the country was still a “safe” place to visit during the conflict.