Ed Koch: The Jewish Community is Taken for Granted by the Democratic Party (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Part 2)

November 5, 2012 4:36 pm 5 comments

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain. Photo: wiki commons.

A political fixture in New York, former Mayor Ed Koch, now 87 years old, has remarkably created new relevance for himself in recent years through vocal activism on national and local issues, most notably centered around President Obama and his relationship with Israel, which is perceived by many to be hostile. Koch was among the President’s most outspoken critics in the early part of his presidency but has since come round to back the President. In an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner days before Tuesday’s presidential election, Mr. Koch addressed a number of pressing issues that are of enhanced interest and concern to Jewish voters.

The interview will be published in five separate parts, divided according to subject. The second installment below, focuses on the Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party and, and Koch’s legacy. Part 1 can be read here.

AJ: Was it an easy decision for you – Obama versus Romney?  Did you waver at all?  Do you see any strengths in Mitt Romney?  Have you met him in person?

EK: I could never support anybody who wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare and reduce food stamps and end abortion and a whole host of other domestic issues.  And that is what Romney is for. I could never support him.

AJ:  Have you met him?

EK: I have not met, no.

AJ:  So was it an easy choice for you?

EK: Very easy.

AJ: Do you see any positives in Romney?

EK: Oh, yes.  I think Romney is a decent man. I mean, listen, I don’t think people who disagree with me are evil.  We disagree.  And if we disagree on substantial issues and I have to make a choice in voting, I will obviously vote against you.  But that doesn’t mean that I dislike you or that I think you’re an evil person.  We disagree, that’s all.

AJ:  So what are your thoughts on the way the Jewish community is structured around election season?  I mean, you’ve got people on both sides of the aisle.  Do you think it’s good that there are Jewish Democrats and Republicans?

EK: Oh, yes, I believe it’s harmful for a community to be exclusively for one party.  I think it’s a big, big mistake.  That is the position of the African-American community, which is 95 percent Democratic.  It’s understandable, but it’s not helpful when a Republican administration comes into being.  The Jewish community is not as intense as that, but I think that they are far too tied to the Democratic party. Even though I’m a Democrat I think they should make clear that the candidate, whether Democrat or Republican, has to win their support in every election and not be taken for granted.

The Jewish community currently is taken for granted by the Democratic party.

AJ:  Do you think what took place with the whole Jerusalem fiasco (the omission of reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the Democratic Party platform) was an indication of that?

EK: Well, the problem is that young Jews are not as supportive of Israel as they should be.  They have forgotten the Shoah.  They have forgotten that when the Nazis came for their parents they also took the youngsters and 6 million died.  I’m of the belief that the leaders of the Jewish community have to do more to make Jews aware, young Jews aware, of the importance of Israel.  What I say to people who ask me why am I so supportive of Israel is I say to them, ‘I’m never going to live in Israel.  I visited it six times in my life; I’ll be there probably once more.  I’m an American citizen.

I owe my country everything, but I know that in the ‘30’s when Hitler offered to allow the German Jews to leave if any country would take them, no country would take them.  Whereas if Israel had been alive and well, it would have taken ultimately all 6 million if they were free to go no matter what their physical or financial condition was.

That’s why I also know that every night there’s a community somewhere – a Jewish community – in danger, and that Israel is always available as their sanctuary.  I know that when the Arabs took the plane to Entebbe, they let all of the non-Jews free, keeping 83 Jews hostage.  And the rest of the world did nothing, and thank G-d Israel was able to rescue them.

AJ: So in terms of the Democrats not taking the Jewish vote for granted, what kind of statistics do you think would be a better balance?

EK: I don’t suggest a balance.  I suggest that they consider both parties in every presidential election.  I’m not suggesting a balance.  It could be a time when they would all vote for the Democratic candidate as in the days of Goldwater, Johnson in ’64.  But I do not believe that any community should be perceived by any party as theirs no matter what they say, no matter what they do.

AJ: You’ve crossed party lines on a number of occasions.

EK: Yes, I’ve crossed party lines.  I supported George Bush in 2004.

Okay, and the reason I supported him, I said, ‘I don’t agree with him on a single domestic issue, not one, but I believe that he understands the nature of terrorism and John Kerry does not.  I said John Kerry thinks that terrorism is just another form of criminality.  Not so.  Terrorism, as I define it, is those who believe that you can kill innocent people in support of achieving a political goal.  That for me is terrorism, and I –

AJ:  So you haven’t seen the same problem with President Obama?

EK: No.

AJ:  He’s done a lot to move Guantanamo prisoners into state legal systems.

EK: He kept Guantanamo open.  Everybody said he should close it.

AJ:  He said recently that he wanted to close it faster.

EK: But it’s open, isn’t it?

AJ:  Right.  It is open, but he says that it’s not because of him.

EK: I don’t understand.  Who was it who ordered the killing of Osama Bin Laden?  Wasn’t it President Obama?

AJ:  It was the president.

EK: You bet.  I believe he understands terrorism.  I absolutely believe that.  I didn’t think John Kerry did.

AJ:  One last question.  How do you define the Mayor Koch legacy?

EK: Well, there are four or five things that people will always remember I’m told, and I hope.  One is that I gave the people of the city of New York back their sense of pride.  That’s what Moynihan said.  ‘He gave them back their morale,’ he said about me.  I balanced the budget for the first time in 15 years.  I rebuilt the Bronx and Harlem and Brooklyn.  Added 250,000 housing units.  I created the Public Financing Board that the New York Times says is the best in the nation.  And finally, I removed all politics from the selection of criminal court and family court judges that the mayor appoints.  Before me it was political obligation.  Somebody did something for the mayor, he made him a judge on occasion.  I took that and changed it.  Everybody agrees that it is now non-political.  Those are the things.  I appointed 140 judges in my 12 years, and they were all recommended to me by a committee.  I didn’t come up with the names.

So those are the things that I hope people will remember.  And mostly from my own point of view, I hope they will remember that I love the people of the city of New York, and I hope they love me.

5 Comments

  • Ronald Reagan started with an unemployment rate of 7.5%
    and at the end of his FIRST term in January 1985 the unemployment rate was 7.3%
    ( it hit a high of 10.8% in 1982 and 10.4% in 1983)

    Obama started with 7.9% unemployment in January 2009 and we have yet to see what the unemployment rate will be at the end of Obama’s first term in January 2013.
    ( And the economy Reagan inherited was nothing compared to the economy Obama inherited)

  • I’m not American citizen, but I care about USA election, my opinion is that Obama can not lead the country, he is a manipulator and I do not trust him! Why? Because he is surrounded by dangerous sick people, witch gave him the Nobel Prize and because of that USA lots a great man, a diplomat in Libya.

  • Any jew who cares about Jewish issues has to vote against barrack.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated magazine featured an extensive profile on Orthodox-Jewish college basketball player Aaron Liberman on Wednesday.  The article details Liberman’s efforts to balance faith, academics and basketball at Tulane University, a challenge the young athlete calls “a triple major.” Sports Illustrated pointed out that Liberman is the second Orthodox student to play Division I college basketball. The other was Tamir Goodman, the so-called “Jewish Jordan.” As reported in The Algemeiner, Liberman started his NCAA career at Northwestern University. According to [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.