Ed Koch on Chuck Hagel Nomination: Obama’s Reneging on His Conveyed Support for Israel Has Come Earlier Than I Thought
In an interview with The Algemeiner, former Mayor of New York, Ed Koch, a lifelong Democrat who supported President Obama’s recent re-election, expressed disappointment with the President’s decision to nominate former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.
“Frankly, I thought that there would come a time when he would renege on what he conveyed on his support of Israel,” said Koch, adding, “it comes a little earlier than I thought it would.”
“It’s very disappointing, I believe he will ultimately regret it,” Koch said, “and it undoubtedly will reduce support for him in the Jewish community, but I don’t think he (the President) worries about that now that the election is over.”
The former mayor who is beloved among many in New York’s Jewish community, said that he believes the appointment will embolden Islamists and will be damaging to the U.S.-Israel relationship.
“It’s not good,” he said, “but fortunately, Congress, overwhelmingly both Democratic and Republican supports the Jewish state, so I’m sure they will defend it against the defense department when it ruptures the current good relationship which exists.”
“I’m sure that the Arabs are drinking orange juice and toasting Hagel’s good health,” Koch said.
“I believe it will encourage the Iranian program. I believe it will encourage the jihadists. They will say ‘ah, we are winning the battle. America is beginning to desert Israel,’” he added.
Asked if he had an idea as to why the President selected Hagel, Koch said, “If I wanted to be Dr. Freud, I’d open up an office. I don’t know.”
Koch hopes that Democrats in Congress will oppose Hagel’s appointment, and he sees it as part of the path to blocking Hagel, “if he (Hagel) is not (confirmed) it’ll be because the republicans take him on, and a few good democrats. It’ll be interesting to me to see how the two senators from New York work on this issue. I hope they’ll join the republicans. But I doubt it.”
“To me this is a test for Chuck Schumer, where he stands, and what he will say,” he added.
Koch explained to The Algemeiner why he decided to back the President’s re-election even though he says he suspected that Obama would backtrack on his pro-Israel overtures. “I did what I thought was warranted and intelligent,” he said, “He was going to win! There was no question about it. I thought it would be helpful to have a Jewish voice there, being able to communicate.”
The Mayor says he has no regrets, “it wouldn’t make any difference. The Jews were going to vote for him no matter what. And that’s the nature of the Jews. They are always very solicitous of everybody else except their own needs and community.”
Koch added some strong criticism for Hagel’s positions, saying, “Hagel is more afraid of the gay community than he is of the Jewish community. Does anybody believe that Hagel regrets what he said about gays? I don’t think so. In fact, did he ever say anything (apologetic) between whenever that incident (when Hagel opposed an ambassadorial appointment on sexual orientation grounds) occurred many years ago until his name was discussed as secretary? Undoubtedly, one of his friends said ‘you better get the gays off your back,’ but they don’t believe it, they don’t believe it at all. If he really believes what he says today, he would have said it a long time ago, not today. With the Jews, he doesn’t, I mean the thing I’m aware of, that most depresses me, is (for Hagel) to say that the letters from Congress (sent to the President) supporting Israel basically were “stupid,” I think that was his word, and he wouldn’t sign any of them, reflected his hostility to Israel.
Now I want to make something clear, I am not accusing him of antisemitism. You can be hostile to Israel and not be antisemitic. I don’t know where he stands on Jews, but I am not accusing him, I have no basis for that.”