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...

  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs David Letterman’s Sidekick on His ‘Dream Job,’ Jewish Upbringing

    David Letterman’s Sidekick on His ‘Dream Job,’ Jewish Upbringing

    JNS.org – A Jewish upbringing taught Paul Shaffer, David Letterman’s musical director and sidekick for 32 years, the value of giving back. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Shaffer served as musical director for “The Concert for New York City,” and in 2012 he accompanied Adam Sandler in “12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief,” a fundraiser for people affected by Hurricane Sandy. He was also the national spokesperson for Epilepsy Canada. “My mother taught by example,” Shaffer said in an [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.