Sunday, February 3, 2013


By Schmoel Yitzhak

In the long history of America there never was a more Jewish politician than New York's Mayor Ed Koch.

His death stirs all sides of the civic spectrum because -- even at his most cantankerous -- Koch was a lovable character; unless, of course, you happen to be an Arab. Koch understood the Jew-haters as well as anyone.

When it came to Israel and its survival as a Jewish State, Koch was unwavering in his support, nor was he ever bashful about speaking out against those who would seek its destruction.

One could say that Ed wore his New York Jewishness on one sleeve and his passionate love of Israel on the other. 

Up until sickness stilled his writing, Koch penned a regularly published blog in which he often took sides when Israel was under attack and the side he took, of course, was in defense of the country, its principles and its leaders.

A lifelong Democrat, he had no problem ripping his fellow party members and often would take Barack Obama to task for the president's inept handling of Middle East politics and left (Arab) leaning policies.

Not that I was always on the same page as Koch. 

In fact, he often reminded me of Alan Dershowitz, the author-Harvard professor, who occasionally allowed his Democratic Party allegiance to get in the way of fair-thinking vis-a-vis Israel.

As far as I'm concerned, Dershowitz often stopped short of castigating Obama's deceitful, perfidious attitude toward Israel.

The same could be said for Koch who, on the one hand, would call out the president for his rude treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then urge Jewish voters to support Obama at election time. After all Koch and Obama shared one belief; faith in the Democratic party.

That said, there was no mistaking the Mayor's love for Israel and his sensitivity to Jewish causes. 

If one Yiddish word could be used to describe what made Koch so appreciated by New Yorkers, it was his haymishness. He was a homey guy; at home in Borough Park, Harlem or Jaffa, if he was is Israel.

Although he never married, the mayor acted like a family man; everybody's uncle. Didn't matter whether you were Italian, African-American or Portuguese, Koch treated everyone like a homey pal.

But he was a Jew first, a New Yorker second and while he occupied City Hall, his heart was in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. 

From 1948 to the present, Ed Koch worried about Israel, defended it, supported the Middle East's only genuine democracy and fought as best he could those who tried to destroy the Jewish National Home. 

In the end, we can forgive any of the Mayor's political vagaries or mayoral indiscretions. 

Ed Koch will be remembered as a Jewish hero who supported Israel with more intensity and honesty than any American politician.

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