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...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.