Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jewish Identity Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    JNS.org – Several Viennese Jews have made a lasting impact on the world. Sigmund Freud’s investigations changed the face of modern psychology. Composer Arnold Schoenberg’s innovations in atonal music changed the face of music. These days, even more Jews — in particular, Israeli Jews — are changing the face of Vienna’s culinary scene with innovations in…the art of the pita. Freudians may find a psychoanalytic motive for the local appeal of the Israeli eateries popping up in the Austrian capital. Walk […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    The two bullet casings are already beginning to rust. Sheikh Nasser Pasha plucks them from the ground. “Look, one is from an AK-47, one from an American M-4.” The casings are strewn on the ground atop a long mound of dirt with a few bits of white sticks on it. It would appear unremarkable if one were walking by it. A closer look, however, reveals the white objects are pieces of human bone: arms, legs, and a single human skull. […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →