Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch passed away at the age of 88 last Friday after enduring a congestive heart failure. As the second elected Jewish mayor of New York City, he is credited with helping New York City to overcome a very difficult financial crisis and was famous for his feisty fighting spirit. According to New York’s current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, Ed Koch was a “tireless, fearless, and guileless civic leader” who “helped the city out of its darkest days and set it on the course of an incredible comeback.” Arthur Browne, a reporter for New York Daily News, claimed that Ed Koch was “the most open mayor to the press that New York City ever had. He was a quirky quintessential outsider New Yorker who was very funny, entertaining…. People tended to love him.”
In addition to being a wonderful mayor, Ed Koch was also an outspoken supporter of the State of Israel. In an op-ed he wrote for Arutz Sheva, Ed Koch asserted, “I agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu that red lines should be drawn and announced by the U.S. that if violated by Iran, would automatically elicit a U.S. military response. The military response should not include the sending of boots on the ground, but rather the use of ballistic missiles, drones, planes, our Navy and Special Forces where appropriate. In addition, I urge President Obama to make the kind of statement issued by Jack Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. He should warn Iran that a nuclear attack upon Israel would be deemed an attack upon the U.S. and that we would respond with military force immediately.”
During the Rosh Hashana sermon he gave before he passed away, Ed Koch declared, “Nobody understands what ‘We have your back’ means. We shouldn’t have Israel’s ‘back’ we should have Israel’s ‘front’. As the brave Senator Inouye from Hawaii said last year, the President should say ‘An attack upon Israel will be deemed an attack against the United States.’ President Obama is showing weakness in the Muslim world. Any other self-respecting western country where their embassy was attacked, their ambassador and his security detail murdered, and the local police ran away would withdraw their embassy immediately in protest.” Ed Koch was opposed to the US sending any kind of aid to countries like Egypt where American embassies were attacked.
In another instance, Ed Koch wrote to British Prime Minister David Cameron stating that the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria is pivotal to Israeli security. There, he asserted, “The Gaza government has said – the speech of Khaled Meshal is set forth in my commentary – that it will never recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel and will continue to pursue violence against that state including the kidnapping of its soldiers. The official head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has refused for the last two years to come to the peace table to negotiate without preconditions. You ask Israel to cease building settlements on the West Bank, which are intended not only to house Israelis, but to provide a defense bulwark when the Islamist armies of the surrounding states, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria – Assad or his opponents – and Iraq, again try militarily to crush Israel.”
He rhetorically asked, “Will Britain come to Israel’s aid? I recall when in one of those wars, Britain declined to deliver to Israel tanks it had purchased from your country. Britain under Chamberlain participated in the Munich sellout of Czechoslovakia. What you and your European colleagues are doing now is repeating the sellout, this time of Israel. The Czech Republic, mindful of what happened to it, is the only European country to vote no to Palestinian statehood. When one of your predecessors told the world that he offered ‘peace in our time,’ he wrote himself into history as a disgrace. How will history on this issue recall you?”
Right before he passed away, Ed Koch took the courageous stance of opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be US Secretary of Defense. Ed Koch declared in an ad printed in the New York Times, “I believe that the nomination of Chuck Hagel will encourage the Iranian problem. I believe it will encourage the jihadists. They will say, ah, we are winning the battle. America is beginning to desert Israel. If Hagel is not confirmed, it’ll be because the Republicans take him on and a few good Democrats.” Indeed, Ed Koch was one of the Democrats who opposed Hagel’s nomination, understanding that it poses a threat not only to Israel but to having a strong America and positive developments in the Middle East. He will be sorely missed.
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By Rachel Avraham