February 1, 2013, - 4:17 pm
As you may know, former New York Mayor Edward Koch died today at age 88. While, for much of his career, Koch was an unabashed liberal, for a good amount of time in his later years, Koch was actually a conservative. And he was always a proud Jew. We cannot skip over the fact, however, that he twice endorsed and voted for Barack Obama or that he helped anti-Israel Tony Kushner get an honorary degree from a New York college–actions that were neither good for America nor for the Jews. But prior to that, he actually did and said some good things, including his valiant fight for the freedom of Soviet Jews from the tyranny of Communism and his work in support of Israel and tax reform, while he was in Congress. Like me, he was the son of Polish Jews.
When I was a kid in elementary school, my parents took us to New York for winter vacation. We stayed at The Essex House hotel, which is now called the “Jumeirah” Essex House and is owned by Gulf state Muslim Arabs (but wasn’t then). Our first night there was the first night of Chanukah, and my parents took us to see Ed Koch light the giant Menorah on the edge of New York’s Central Park. That was my first introduction to the then-Mayor of New York.
It was after that, when I was in college, that I heard Ed Koch was coming to speak at the University of Michigan. His speech was sponsored by all the Jewish and liberal groups on campus. When I told my father about it, he said, “Oh, you have to go to his speech and congratulate him for his very conservative review of a book by James Q. Wilson in a recent issue of Commentary Magazine. It will make all the liberals mad because they clearly don’t know that he’s kind of conservative now.” (In those days, Commentary was a very intellectual, excellent publication. Now it’s run by morons for morons and constantly pushes the Arab Spring BS and amnesty for illegal aliens. For that reason, both I and my father stopped reading it years ago.) My dad read me parts of the article over the phone, and I took notes.
When Ed Koch spoke at Michigan, I came prepared. After his speech, I got in line for the question and answer session. I congratulated him for his turn toward conservatism, which he acknowledged, and I praised him for his positive book review on James Q. Wilson’s book supporting getting tough on crime in urban America. I asked him about that, also adding, “Don’t you think Jews should consider conservative thinking and the Republican Party?” He said yes to both, and many in the audience got upset. Afterward, I was yelled at and physically accosted by a liberal, Jewish then-State Senator, a witch by the name of Lana Pollack. She couldn’t handle that Ed Koch actually urged Jews to consider the Republican Party and conservatism and that I was the instigator (I’d worked on her Republican opponent, Dale Appley’s campaign, and she knew me from that and from speaking out against her in other forums).
I also asked Koch about the Nicaraguan Freedom Fighters (the Contras) and anti-Semitic, Communist Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, since I know that Koch openly supported the Contras and opposed Ortega, after first having the reverse position. He also responded favorably to my questions. This riled up the liberals because opposing President Reagan and the Contras and appeasing Ortega was a major part of their playbook. Ed Koch was not afraid to oppose them and do the right thing. He also led a fact-finding mission to Central America to play up his anti-Communist views on the matter.
Ed Koch was also not afraid to speak out against his party back in the days of Jesse Jackson’s Presidential runs. He said Jews would be crazy to vote for Jackson and he expressed outrage and embarrassment that Jackson was a major player in the party, something no one would do now. Koch also didn’t hesitate to call out phonies and far-leftists back then (though he wouldn’t call out Obama enough, later on). He called Black and Hispanic activists forever shaking down New York City, “poverty pimps.” He called protesters, “crazies.” And he called far-left nutjob Bella Abzug a “wacko.” Politically correct he was not.
But sometimes, in his last years, I felt Ed Koch wasn’t all there. He was trotted out by the useless Republican Jewish Coalition (a bunch of RINO-JINOs, Republicans and Jews In Name Only) to campaign for George W. Bush against John Kerry. That part was fine.
But when Koch came to Detroit for this, he went on the radio just before his appearance and told a radio host that Hillary Clinton would make a great President, that he’s supporting her, and that she’s great for America and for Israel. Huh? I went to the event, and asked him a question about this. He reaffirmed his support and said that the most pro-Israel President in U.S. history is Bill Clinton, which is delusional to say the least. I guess he never heard of the disastrous Oslo Accords, the pan-Arabist bitch Madeleine Albright, or the disgusting way Bill Clinton forced Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin to shake Yasser Arafat’s hand. That’s not to mention Hillary Clinton’s lack of reaction to Suha Arafat’s statement that Jews poison Arab water with cancer. At the same event, I asked Ed Koch to address President Bush’s tight relationship with jihad supporter and enabler Grover Norquist. Instead of answering the question, he attacked me in an extremely obnoxious manner, calling me nuts and saying it’s ridiculous to ask about this topic. His reaction turned many in the audience off, including me.
Fast forward to four years later. Ed Koch endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008. He did it again in 2012, while admitting that Obama was terrible for Israel and very heavily on the side of the Muslim extremists. Only an idiot (or a Muslim) admits this and then supports Obama again anyway. He knew better in both 2008 and 2012. Or he was already afflicted with dementia, which is a distinct possibility. The same can be said for Koch’s maneuver to reverse a decision to deny far-left, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Jew, Tony Kushner (screenwriter of “Lincoln”–read my review) an honorary degree from the City University of New York. This told me that Ed Koch had lost some of his marbles. You don’t speak out against Jesse Jackson and then embrace Tony Kushner, who’s arguably said far worse about the Jews, and give him an honor. His behavior supporting Obama and Kushner can only be described as asinine.
And, so, I will remember Ed Koch as a proud Jew, a proud “How’m I Doing?” New York Mayor, and a proud American, who sometimes got a lot of these things wrong, but had a brief interlude with conservatism and sometimes did the right thing.
Ed Koch, Zichrono LiVrachah [Of Blessed Memory].
Tags: Barack Obama, Bella Abzug, Commentary, Commentary Magazine, conservative Jews, Ed Koch, Edward I. Koch, Edward Koch, George W. Bush, Israel, James Q. Wilson, Jesse Jackson, Jewish conservatives, Jews, Lana Pollack, Lana Pollak, New York, New York Mayor Ed Koch, poverty pimps, Tony Kushner