by Ed Koch
Readers of my commentaries know that I usually send one a week. Last week, however, I sent two because the Helen Thomas incident occurred after I had finished my regular weekly article, and I thought the Thomas affair required a response from me. I called for her to step down, which she did
Occasionally, readers say that I write too much regarding the hostility directed toward Israel, particularly by the United Nations. My reply is this: shouldn’t I defend Israel when I believe it is being unfairly attacked day after day at the UN and throughout the world? Shouldn’t I defend Israel when it is undeniably mistreated by the President of the United States, who enlisted me in his campaign in 2008 to campaign for him in Jewish communities in Florida? Shouldn’t I defend Israel when I believe much of the anti-Israel invective is actually a manifestation of anti-Semitism, which is rising throughout the world?
I have been disappointed in President Obama’s actions towards Israel, and I have also been dismayed by the lengthy acquiescence of members of Congress to Obama’s actions, particularly Jewish members of Congress in both the House and Senate. When the members of both House and Senate finally spoke up and voiced their differences with the President – albeit through letters addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – the President got the message. In total, 333 House members and 76 senators signed the protest letters. I was surprised by the names of those who did not sign. Key among those missing signatures was that of John Kerry, former presidential candidate of the Democratic party who ran against George W. Bush in 2004 and lost by three million votes.
I was proud to support George W. Bush in that election, having said at the time of my endorsement that I didn’t agree with him on a single domestic issue. But I thought the issue of standing up to Islamic terrorism outweighed all other issues and on that issue, said I, Bush was far and away stronger than the Democratic candidate. I was right and have no regrets about supporting George W. Bush. At Bush’s request, I campaigned for him in Florida to try to persuade the elderly Jewish community to vote for him. I didn’t have much success, with many of the Jewish voters believing that FDR was still running, if only in spirit.
I went to Florida in 2008 for presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama to talk to those same Jewish communities urging them to vote for him. As I later told the Senator at the Alfred E. Smith dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, there was no need for me to campaign. I told him that before speaking to three meetings of Jewish voters, I asked how many supported John McCain and in each group of about 250 individuals, about six raised their hands. I asked how many had not made up their minds. Again, about six. Then asked how many were for Senator Barack Obama. And, so help me, on each occasion, all of the rest raised their hands for him.
Senator Obama received 78 percent of the votes of the Jewish community nationwide. The only group giving him a higher percentage was the African-American community. Many Jewish leaders, myself included, have concluded that President Obama has reneged on his support for the security of Israel – a major priority for most American Jews and many Christians – and is shifting American foreign policy to favor the Muslim, and in particular, the Palestinian cause. It should come as no surprise that in response to a poll taken by Quinnipiac University asking, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the situation between Israel and the Palestinians?” 67 percent of Jews disapproved and 28 percent approved. That same poll showed support by Democrats for Israel was 46 percent and among Republicans, 70 percent. Did this shock me and many others? You bet.
Following the sending of the House and Senate letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the President appeared to be backpedaling, and in a letter to a major Jewish organization, assured the Jewish community that he was committed to Israel’s security. Jewish leaders, seeking to end the rift and end their criticism of him on this issue, decided to take President Obama at his word.
However, this past week, the Weekly Standard stated that it “has learned that senior Obama administration officials have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel’s behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident.”
Israel has just announced the formation of a commission to investigate the blockade incident, which will include two non-Israelis. One, Lord Trimble from Northern Ireland, the other, retired Canadian Brigadier General Ken Watkin. If the Weekly Standard’s report is true, this will surely reawaken fears of Obama on the issue of US support for Israel.
I was requested by an e-mail writer to read the comments, published on February 8, 2010, of Pilar Rahola, a Spanish politician, journalist and activist. Spain today is one of the most hostile nations to Israel, probably because of its large Muslim population and economic contracts with the Muslim world. Ms. Rahola sums up her feelings with the following statement directed at those constantly assailing Israel. “Why, of all the world’s conflicts, only this one interests them? Why a tiny country which struggles to survive is criminalized? Why does the manipulated information triumph so easily? Why are all the people of Israel, reduced to a simple mass of murderous imperialists? Why is there no Palestinian guilt? Why is Arafat a hero and Sharon a monster? Finally, why when it is the only country in the world which is threatened with destruction, it is the only one that nobody considers a victim?”
Rahola then took on the “left” and its hostility to Israel, stating, “Today too, as yesterday, that left is hawking totalitarian ideologies, falls in love with dictators and, in its offensive against Israel, ignores the destruction of fundamental rights. It hates rabbis, but falls in love with imams; shouts against the Tsahal , but applauds Hamas’ terrorists; weeps for the Palestinian victims, but scorns the Jewish victims, and when it is touched by Palestinian children, it does it only if it can blame the Israelis. It will never denounce the culture of hatred, or its preparation for murder. A year ago, at AIPAC’s conference in Washington, I asked the following questions: Why don’t we see demonstrations in Europe against the Islamic dictatorships? Why are there no demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of Muslim women? Why don’t they declare against the use of bomb-carrying children in the conflicts in which Islam is involved? Why is the left only obsessed with fighting against two of the most solid democracies of the planet, those which have suffered the bloodiest terrorist attacks, the United States and Israel?…Because the left no longer has any ideas, only slogans. It no longer defends rights, but prejudices. And the greatest prejudice of all, is the one it has against Israel. I accuse, then, in a formal manner: the main responsibility of the new anti-Semite hatred, disguised as anti-Zionism, comes from those who should have to defend freedom, solidarity and progress. Far from it, they defend despots, forget their victims and remain silent before medieval ideologies which aim at the destruction of free societies. The treason of the left is an authentic treason against modernity.”
Remember the words that came out of the era of the Nazis and their hatred for and murder of Jews? Those words “Never Again” were announced in every country after World War II. Let’s be totally honest. Those words today almost everywhere in the world are hollow and devoid of meaning.
Those who pride themselves on fairness and conscience, Christians and Jews, must rise up and be heard. Their protests must ring throughout the world. There is no time to waste.
Let me end with a final comment by Ms. Rahola: “I am not Jewish. Ideologically, I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not as anti-Israel as my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew, I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel. To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews. As a journalist, it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles. Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too. The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn’t want to accept it, is the struggle of the world.”