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July 25, 2011

Jewish Dems on Koch Endorsement: A Sad History of Shilling for the GOP

Listed in: Other Domestic Policy, NJDC News, Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC- Referring to him “sadly as a former Democrat but now a contrarian, attention-seeking shill for the GOP,” the National Jewish Democratic Council today denounced former New York City Mayor and Representative Ed Koch’s endorsement of Republican House candidate Bob Turner over Democrat Assembly Member David Weprin in the Special Election for New York’s 9th Congressional District. During his career in public life, Koch had once been a stalwart Democrat who worked tirelessly to advance the Party’s platform. But for many years now, Koch has been a shadow of the Democrat he once was, having endorsed Republican candidates and wrongfully assailed Democrats with uncivil and over-the-top language. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

“Ed Koch’s most recent actions reveal his true colors; sadly, he’s just a former Democrat who is now a contrarian, attention-seeking shill for the GOP, which is deeply troubling given his heyday as a leading Jewish Democrat. But today, his conduct places him squarely outside the mainstream of the American Jewish community - to say nothing of the Democratic Party. Worse, his extreme language and the political stunts that he uses to draw attention to himself and wrongfully criticize Democrats on Israel—especially New York State Assembly Member David Weprin—are just plain wrong. Weprin is clearly staunchly pro-Israel, and his decades of support for the Jewish state and Jewish causes reflect this. Koch, on the other hand, is acting like an opportunist seeking the limelight at the expense of truly bipartisan support for Israel.”

After years of service as a model Jewish Democrat in the late 20th century, in recent times Koch has been an attention seeking supporter of the GOP. His behavior demonstrates that his view of the Democratic Party is no longer grounded in reality and that he is of course no longer a credible Democratic voice.

Koch endorsed and campaigned for President George W. Bush over Senator John Kerry (D-MA). Koch’s support for Bush allowed for Republicans to wrongfully smear Kerry’s strong record of support for Israel as well as his decades of foreign policy experience. [Haaretz, September 28, 2004]

Koch compared President Barack Obama to the Romans sacking Jerusalem in an op-ed. Koch wrote in The Huffington Post that the state of U.S.-Israel relations:

...[R]ecalls what occurred in 70 AD when the Roman emperor Vespasian launched a military campaign against the Jewish nation and its ancient capital of Jerusalem. Ultimately, Masada, a rock plateau in the Judean desert became the last refuge of the Jewish people against the Roman onslaught. [The Huffington Post, April 12, 2010]

In the same op-ed, Koch bizarrely accused Obama of “seeking to build a siege ramp around Israel.”

Furthermore, Koch continues to wrongfully assail the President on Israel, despite record-breaking levels of military assistance to Israel, unprecedented bilateral security cooperation, and firm diplomatic support for Israel on the international stage. His attacks do nothing other than send the wrong message to Israel’s enemies that the United States is anywhere but behind Israel.

Koch laments Jewish voters remaining loyal Democrats. Koch recently told Newsmax:

Regrettably the Jewish vote has been tied to the Democratic Party since FDR. No matter who’s running for president, many Jews think it’s still FDR. ...

That’s been harmful to the Jewish community supporting the State of Israel. [Newsmax, May 20, 2011]

Haaretz also reported of Koch’s attitude towards Jewish voters:

‘If they don’t [vote for Bush] they are ungrateful,’ says Koch, and then adds that he intends to tell the Jews of Florida: ‘You owe President Bush. If Bush hadn’t stood up in the [United Nations] Security Council, in the [General] Assembly, Israel would have been destroyed. I don’t believe that the Democrats would have done the same job.’ [Haaretz, September 28, 2004]

Koch is certainly free to endorse whomever he wants. But with a record like this, he clearly does not represent the vast majority of American Jews or the mainstream of the Democratic Party.