Ed Koch, late mayor of New York City, was a fascinating man with a long and impressive career. But when he died recently at the age of 88, his reputation had just taken a self-inflicted and self-confessed hit.
He had endorsed Obama for reelection, and his endorsement went a long way to reassure many Jewish and non-Jewish friends of Israel who were concerned about the president’s tepid (at best) record on support for our only Mideast ally.
When Obama nominated the not-very-bright enemy of Israel (see here or below) Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary, Koch understood it for what it was: the definitive rolling-under-the-bus of Israel. Koch’s reaction was one of outrage, but not of surprise. He confessed that he expected something of the sort, but thought the president might wait a “decent interval” before putting his cards so baldly on the table.
Here is what Koch said on January 7, the day after the Hagel nomination was announced:
“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.
It is as well that Koch did not live to see the colossal embarrassment of Hagel’s Senate “hearing”. (If the Senators actually heard him, they could not possibly approve him.)
Ed Koch reflected on his own endorsement of Obama in words that are sad to read:
“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.”
We must hope that Ed Koch is remembered for his amazing career, and not for the unwise political calculation he made in his dying days.
And we must contact our Senators and urge them to block this obscene nomination. Do it today.