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Koch Backs Obama for ‘12

The most important wavering Jewish Democrat comes around

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In an email to supporters, former New York City mayor Ed Koch—the man who, more than any other individual, was responsible for turning the New York ninth’s special election into a referendum on President Obama’s Israel policies, having told the district’s Jewish voters to vote for the Republican in order to send the president a message—announced he is endorsing Obama for re-election. “The President should be praised for intervening with the Egyptian army to save the Israeli diplomatic personnel from physical assault and providing the Israeli military with bunker buster bombs, advanced military technology and providing military intelligence cooperation far exceeding his predecessors,” Koch wrote. “I’m now on board the Obama Reelection Express.”

Cue the spin. “@mayoredkoch won over by Obama charm offensive endorses his reelection. Dem critics of him now in awk pos.,” tweeted Matthew Brooks, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Which is certainly quite the take on it, but in fairness the RJC’s feed is currently a cornucopia of quotes from Jewish Democrats calling Koch, for example, “squarely outside the mainstream of the American Jewish community.” The National Jewish Democratic Council’s inevitable backtracking will, frankly, be no less opportunistic than the RJC’s sophistry.

However, none of this takes away from the fact that Koch—indeed, a lifelong Democrat—has endorsed Obama. And this is important for two related reasons. First, it’s a sign that the administration/campaign’s charm offensive—beginning with the embassy rescue, continuing to the unequivocal support Obama offered Israel at the United Nations in both his deeds and his speech, and going through the new revelations of heightened military-to-military cooperation—are having an impact on convincing fence-sitting American Jews that Obama is their friend. Second, it’s important because, as Tevi Troy presciently wrote many months ago in Tablet Magazine, Koch is the emblematic figure of this sort, whom Democratic candidates need on their side. “Obama should beware,” Troy warned. “When Ed Koch goes against his party’s presidential candidate, it is often a very bad sign.” This morning, then, Obama should allow himself a small sigh of relief.

Ed Koch Endorses Obama [Ben Smith]
Related: Koch Test [Tablet Magazine]

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Tevi Troy recently greatly misrepresented the President in the Wall Street Journal with regard to his annual conference call to American rabbis. Very unfortunate. Glad to see Mayor Koch has come around.

Koch Threw Orthodox Under the Bus
Just two weeks after campaigning in Jewish and Orthodox circles for Bob Turner, Ed Koch jumped buses, declaring to the NY Times that he is “now on board the Obama Re-election Express.” He didn’t only switch buses; to paraphrase him he threw the Orthodox under the bus, by ridiculing and distorting their faith, and dismissing their significance, by telling the president that, “Jews will never vote for anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution.”
Ex-Mayor Koch was never especially liked by the Orthodox community, in large parts because his blatant disregard to religion. They played major role in his humiliating defeat in a democratic primary to David Dinkins, something that is almost unheard of for an incumbent mayor. It’s a travesty that some joined forces with him now, using morality as a lure, only to later paint a picture that Orthodox Jews heeded Koch’s endorsement.
Even after rising to glory thanks to their vote, he is still as insensitive to religious Jews.
Koch made the above-quoted remark to the president in the same week when a group of Orthodox Jews, including Assemblyman Dov Hikind, together with Bob Turner joined Rick Perry in a highly publicized news conference. Worse, he related the conversation to the press two days before Jews of all stripes will observe Rosh Hashanah – translated in English: Beginning of New Year. Tonight will start year 5772 since the creation.
To say that Jews believe in evolution is very distorting, offensive and insulting.

Charlie Hall says:

Koch’s actions in the NY-09 congressional race always had much more to do with his grudge against the Weprin family than with any difficulty he had with Obama’s positions.

Moshe Friedman has slandered the Orthodox community by implying that we don’t believe in evolution. Evolution is a fact, and lots of my fellow Orthodox Jews accept scientific facts. To say that Orthodox Jews don’t accept empirical facts is distorting, offensive, and insulting.


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Koch Backs Obama for ‘12

The most important wavering Jewish Democrat comes around

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