Former Mayor of NYC Critical of Obama's "Mistreatment" of Israel

Published: September 20th 2010
in News » Local

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch
Pic: UJA Federation

In the course of his long distinguished career, Edward Irving “Ed” Koch has served three terms as mayor of New York City (“I loved it”), written several books, enumerable articles, and played the judge on the TV show The People’s Court.  Now 85, he has just launched a new organization, New York Uprising, which aims to renovate a “dysfunctional” Albany.


Mr. New York, as many called him, greets me in his hotel suite without getting up.  Looking relaxed and a little weary, he’s wearing a long-sleeved navy T-shirt and rumpled cotton pants. As we talk, he rests his sock-clad feet upon the coffee table.


Although Koch has been a life-long Democrat and worked to help President Obama’s election, he is now fiercely critical of Obama’s “mistreatment” of Israel.


 “Prior presidents had a special relationship with Israel,” he said.  But not Obama.  He made that clear almost from the beginning of his tenure when he spoke in Cairo, his first major speech, and did not go to Israel immediately after.  “That’s the usual protocol. When you go to an Arab country you follow up with a trip to Israel and vice versa.”


He believes, he wrote, “that President Obama’s policy is to create a whole new relationship with the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq as a counter to Iran.  If throwing Israel under the bus is needed to accomplish this alliance, so be it.”


He added: “Members of Congress in both House and Senate have made pitifully weak statements against Obama’s mistreatment of Israel, if they made any at all. The Democratic members, in particular, are weak.  They are simply afraid to criticize President Obama.”


He contrasts this with Obama’s treatment of the “corrupt, opium producing” Karzai government which “shows the utmost contempt for the U.S. and is being hailed by the Obama administration as an ally and publicly treated with dignity.  Karzai recently even threatened to join the Taliban if we don’t stop making demands on him,” he wrote in an article in April.


He is hopeful about the current peace talks, “because I’m an optimistic person,” but remarks about “the many times the Arab Muslims walked away from Israel’s generous offers.”


When asked about the controversial building of a mosque near Ground Zero, his first response is swift and legalistic, despite Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s refusal to acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization and his dubious association with Islamist sympathizers.  “Every religious institution is to be treated equally.  And if a church or a synagogue could be situated on that plot of land, then a mosque can as well.


“I will fight to the death for their right to build it under the first amendment,” he says, although he admits that “it’s insensitive and I don’t like it.”        


He has stated that “America is in greater danger than ever before, from Islamic terrorism.” Koch believes we are in a war with Islamic terrorism that could last 50 years.  “Will we tire?” he queries. “Will we have the energy and the steel in our spines? They glory in death; we love life.”


Koch, who often crosses party lines, supported Bush’s war with Iraq and the deposing of Saddam Hussein, because “we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. We should have gotten out earlier.”


Related articles: (Ed Koch, UJA, Obama)
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