I’ve been holding my tongue about Ed Koch, who died a few days ago, but when even Democracy Now! had a favorable piece about the late mayor of New York I had to speak up.
He was an unabashed and unapologetic supporter of Israeli aggression and apartheid. In 1980 he declared Jabotinsky Day in honor of the revisionist Zionist (and pro-Mussolini) leader. When Israel was blowing hell out of Lebanon in 1982 and carpet bombing Palestinian camps Koch went to Lebanon with the Israeli army. His 100% support for the Israeli government continued long after he left office. In 2010 he denounced President Obama for his (one and only?) criticism of Israeli settlement building.
According to Wikipedia Koch also appeared in the documentary “FahrenHYPE 9/11” defending President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and blasting Michael Moore. Koch was quoted in the film saying of Moore’s film, “Farhrenheit 9/11“. He says, “It’s not a documentary, it’s a lie.”
A one time liberal Koch became a law and order freak and clashed often with black leaders. I quote a paragraph from Lenni Brenner’s 1988 book “The Lesser Evil” where he talks about Ed Koch. “He was not only for Israel, he ended up the pal of Ariel Sharon, the wickedest Jews since Herod. He started routinely denouncing blacks as anti-Semites. Of course, he is for the death penalty. He opposed low income housing in middle class neighborhoods. He began denouncing municipal workers’ unions for what he called exceessive demands. Ultimately, he even got to the point of proposing wolves be put into subway train yard to keep kids from sneaking in and graffitying the cars. The press lifted a collective brow, ‘Wolves howl. That-and the screams of their victims-will keep people up all night.'”
It wasn’t just radicals that noticed Koch’s attitudes towards blacks. In August 1978 “Richard Maass, president of the American Jewish Committee, charged last night that the actions of Mayor Edward Koch are leading to ‘a rise in anti-Semitism’ among Blacks in New York City and said the ‘Blacks have a right to feel aggrieved.’ ”
Koch may have been very concerned about the terrible crime of defacing subway cars, but corruption, not so much. There was a stream of arrests, indictments and convictions of city officials during Koch’s mayoral reign for kickbacks, bribes, racketeering. Koch was never himself accused, but he was close with most of those charged. One was Donald Manes, the Queens Borough President. In 1986 as a corruption scandal had started to grow, Manes stabbed himself to death in his home with a kitchen knife. According to Lenni Brenner Koch had suggested several times that Manes succeed him as mayor.
There’s also Koch’s disgraceful record on AIDS. The award winning play “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramer is set in the early ’80’s in New York when gays with AIDS were being ignored. A major focus of the play is the inaction of Mayor Ed Koch.
A few days ago the self-described gay newspaper, the Washington Blade wrote to Larry Kramer. “In an email exchange on Friday, the Blade asked Kramer if he thought Koch supporters had some merit in saying that Koch faced budget and funding constraints and did what he could in the early days of the epidemic to provide some city resources to address AIDS.”
“Bullshit,” replied Kramer. ‘Evil deeds are evil deeds.’ ”
From people who should have known better there was a campaign to support Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Over the years he made a few statments critical of the Iraq war and Israel. This drew neo-con hatred and the naive on the Left thought that this might mean he had become a peacenik. That illusion should have been shattered by his meek performance and his confirmation hearing last week. When asked to back up his words that the Zionist lobby “intimidates” and makes the U.S. do stupid things he wouldn’t say a word. When challenged by Senator McCain that the “surge” in Iraq was a big victory all Hagel could say was that “history” will make the decision. Here was his chance to lambaste McCain and his ilk for getting 5,000 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered for nothing, but he wouldn’t do it.
How could he, if he’s about to adminster Barack “Shoot Another Drone” Obama’s Defense Department?