Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who campaigned for President Obama in 2008, slammed the U.S. leader’s recent treatment of Israel as “outrageous” and “hostile,” declaring he is “close” to “getting off the Obama train.”
Koch’s sentiments are significant. The former politician has long been an indicator of American Jewish sentiment regarding U.S. presidents and Israel. His statements may serve as a signal that some American Jews are moving away from the Obama administration.
Koch was speaking in a radio interview with WND senior reporter Aaron Klein, who hosts an investigative program on New York’s WABC 770 AM.
The former mayor took issue with the Obama administration’s diplomatic row with Israel last month after a Jerusalem municipality announced the construction of 1,600 new homes in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, an already existing Jewish community in Jerusalem.
That announcement came during a visit to the region by Vice President Joe Biden, resulting in the White House calling the new construction an “insult” and an impediment to Israeli-Palestinian peace. A subsequent visit to the White House by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was described in media reports as tense.
“I think it’s outrageous what he has done,” stated Koch, referring to Obama, who Koch said has called for Jews not to “build apartments anywhere they want to and can afford to in their own land in Jerusalem.”
“It’s clear that Netanyahu was treated so terribly at the White House,” he said. “It is just rude what they did to him. … I am extremely distressed with the attitude that the president has shown Israel. I consider it to be hostility.”
“I am really terrified at what is happening and I would urge Jews and Christians who support Israel to stand up and speak out,” Koch added.
Klein’s interview with Koch can be heard below:
“We must never again go back to the ’30s, when Jews were afraid to speak out here in the United States because they would be treated as disloyal, unpatriotic, duel loyalty and they deserted,” Koch told Klein.
“We should insist that (Obama) treat our ally as an ally, that he not throw Israel under the bus,” he said.
Koch, who campaigned for Obama in Florida during the 2008 election, said he was “amazed that the members of Congress who normally say wonderful things about the support of Israel, they have not spoken out in denunciation in what has occurred to date under the Obama administration.”
The former mayor also took issue with Obama’s policy of dialogue and seeking sanctions against Iran.
“The fact is U.S. on that issue has lost its nerve and has accepted the fact that North Korea and Iran will have a nuclear bomb. North Korea already does. All this talk about sanctions is baloney,” he said.
When asked if he is deserting Obama, Koch declared, “I am not yet off the train, but, let me tell you, I am close to it.”
He added, “I’m a good Democrat and believe in the Democrat program, domestically certainly.”
Indicator of Jewish American support
Koch’s attitude has long been a good indicator of greater Jewish American sentiment toward U.S. politicians.
In 1980 Koch, although himself a prominent Democrat, 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 sixty percent of Jews deserting Carter: 40 percent went to Reagan, and 20 percent to John Anderson.
Koch’s endorsement of George W. Bush in 2004, as a gesture of support for the U.S. war against Islamic terror and Bush’s pro-Israel policies, was likewise indicative of the growing grassroots Jewish support for the Bush administration.