Ed Koch’s Ignorance (or Disregard for the Truth)
Ed Koch thinks we should not criticize him for his statement that President Barack Obama “cannot throw Israel under the bus with impunity” (Algemeiner 12/2/2011). We think that nobody should get away with making such a defamatory and unwarranted comment with impunity. Especially not the former Mayor of the City of New York.
Our statement lists a whole series of reasons why President Obama has been one of the best friends Israel has ever had in the Oval Office: his continued and increased support of Israel’s security needs and diplomatic priorities, his role in the rescue of Israel’s diplomats from the Egyptian mob, the tireless work of his State Department to block Abbas’ bid for recognition of the Palestinian State in the UN Security Council, his promise of a veto of that bid if necessary, his financing of the Iron Dome anti-missile system. And more. In his response, Mr. Koch addresses none of these facts but merely repeats his “under the bus” canard. How disingenuous that is.
Mr. Koch brags about his role in the election of a Tea Party Republican to the House. He ignores the fact that the candidate he brags about helping to defeat is also a strong supporter of Israel. He brags about having helped deliver a strong message to the President without ever having established the case that such a message was necessary or in Israel’s best interest.
Nor does Hizzoner explain why partially suspending settlement construction for some period, which is what Obama asked Israel to do, would be dangerous to Israel’s survival. Not even Prime Minister Netanyahu made that claim. He claimed only that building was Israel’s right and suspending building was politically impossible. Mr. Koch ignores the fact that the Obama administration continues to list Hamas as a terrorist organization with which it will not meet or negotiate. He ignores the Administration’s demand that Hamas accept the Quartet’s terms: recognition of Israel, cessation of violence and adherence to agreements. Is he not aware of those positions?
When it comes to the positions of Americans for Peace Now, Mr. Koch demonstrates either complete ignorance or willful disregard for the truth. He knows nothing of our attitude toward Hamas, toward the threats to Israel, toward anything. Yet he has the chutzpah to criticize us. I am willing to speculate that the instances of our organization criticizing Hamas and Palestinian actions far outnumber the instances of Mr. Koch’ criticism of settlement expansion, or of “price tag” attacks on the IDF and on Palestinians and Israelis, or of death threats to Peace Now members, or of anti-democratic legislation proposed in the Knesset, or any other single thing that has occurred in Israel. Or has he forgotten that Hillel went on to say “If I am for myself what am I?”
Mr. Koch’s reference to Syrian troops in Tel Aviv is at best insulting. We are as aware as he is of the dangers that Israel faces. We are as aware as he of the stakes for the people of Israel in the settlement of the conflict with its neighbors. It is because of our love and support for the State of Israel that we believe that Israel needs to do more than it is doing to bring about a resolution of the conflict.
There are many ways to advocate for Israel’s safety and security. We believe that mouthing Mr. Koch’s platitudes is not the best way. We believe that our way, pressing both sides to be pragmatic and to do everything they can to bring Israelis and Palestinians the peace they so much deserve, is a far better way.
Martin Bresler is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Americans for Peace Now