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Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who campaigned for President Obama in 2008, but who has also publicly blasted his party for failing to support Israel, has chimed in on the controversial plans to build an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero, calling the construction “insensitive” to victims and survivors of the 9-11 attacks.
Koch nonetheless agreed with President Obama’s recent controversial remarks defending the construction, arguing that, insensitive or not, Muslims have “a right” to build the mosque.
“It’s insensitive for the sponsors of the mosque to go forward, but they have an absolute right under our Constitution to build a mosque anywhere you can build a church or a synagogue or a Hindu temple,” Koch said in a radio interview. “Therefore, while it’s perfectly understandable that survivors of the 9-11 catastrophe and the families of those who didn’t survive are distressed, nevertheless what comes first is the law.”
Koch was speaking in a radio interview today with Aaron Klein, WND senior reporter and host of investigative show on New York’s WABC Radio.
In 1980 Koch defied the Democratic administration of Jimmy Carter and strongly denounced Carter’s policies toward Israel. This foreshadowed the unprecedented shift of Jewish voters that November; with about 60 percent of Jews deserting Carter for other candidates. Koch also broke ranks with his party to endorse George W. Bush in 2004, as a gesture of support for the U.S. war against Islamic terror and Bush’s pro-Israel policies.
And despite still slinging stinging comments about Obama’s treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and dismissal of Islamic terror in the U.S., Koch refused to condemn the building of the proposed Ground Zero mosque.
“I wouldn’t denounce them, and I would defend their rights under the law,” Koch insisted.
Audio of the interview can be heard below:
When Klein asked Koch about Obama’s overall policy toward Israel and Islam, however, Koch resumed his criticism, asserting that once the president broke trust with Netanyahu, rebuilding that trust would take time.
“I’m happy that president Obama has recanted on his apparent hostility exhibited toward Israel,” Koch said. “I would nevertheless always examine what he proposes with great care.”
When asked if he was concerned about the Obama administration minimizing the threat of Islamic terror in the U.S., Koch answered, “I certainly am. I find it outrageous that the White House has prohibited the use of the expression ‘Islamist terrorists’. It’s crazy.”
New York Islamic leader Faisal Abdul Rauf, president of the Cordoba Initiative, is leading the plan to build a proposed 13-story, $100 million Islamic cultural center and mosque near the corner of Park Place and West Broadway – about two blocks from the site of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Rauf sparked controversy last month when he refused during a live interview on Klein’s WABC show to condemn violent jihad groups as terrorists. Rauf repeatedly refused on the air to denounce Hamas as an extremist organization.
The U.S. has designated Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction and is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilian population centers, as a terrorist organization.
During the interview, Klein also asked Rauf who he believes was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
“There’s no doubt,” stated Rauf. “The general perception all over the world was it was created by people who were sympathetic to Osama bin Laden. Whether they were part of the killer group or not, these are details that need to be left to the law-enforcement experts.”
Rauf has been on record several times blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks. He has been quoted refusing to admit Muslims carried out the attacks.
Referring to the Sept. 11 attacks, Rauf told CNN, “U.S. policies were an accessory to the crime that happened. We (the U.S.) have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. Osama bin Laden was made in the USA.”