Despite being a fellow Democrat, former Mayor Ed Koch was harshly critical of President Barack Obama’s attitude towards Israel last year. Time and time again, Mr. Koch railed against Mr. Obama, notably using his clout to help elect Congressman Bob Turner win a Democratic-leaning district last summer in a campaign largely based on Mr. Obama’s alleged lack of support for the country. After the election, however, Mr. Koch flipped and said Mr. Obama was indeed a friend of Israel declaring, “I’m now on board the Obama Re-election Express” and vowing to campaign for him in Florida. In light of the recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya, however, Mr. Koch has returned to criticizing Mr. Obama’s stance on Israel.
“President Obama on a number of occasions has publicly stated, ‘I have Israel’s back,’” Mr. Koch said in a statement this afternoon. “I don’t know what that means in practice.”
Mr. Koch added that he believes Mr. Obama’s public statements to date are not sufficiently committed to Israel’s security.
“I believe he should publicly state, as Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii said back in January of this year that an attack by Iran on Israel would be considered an attack on the U.S. that would elicit an immediate military response,” he said.
View Mr. Koch’s full press release below:
My Reaction to President Obama’s Response to the Incidents in Egypt, Libya and Elsewhere
The New York Times of September 17, reported that, “[i]n Iran, the commander of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, took the unusual step of holding a news conference on Sunday to warn that ‘nothing will remain’ in Israel if it or any other nation launches attacks against his country. He said that Iran and its allies – presumably Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza – would retaliate at Israel’s borders, as would Iran itself in Israel and beyond, targeting American military bases in the Persian Gulf and shutting down the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has often threatened to counter any attack, but the general’s threats were unusually specific and signaled Iran’s intent to turn any possible attack into a regional conflict. ‘Our response to Israel is clear: I think nothing will remain of Israel,’ General Jafari said, according to an account by The Associated Press. ‘Given Israel’s small land area and its vulnerability to a massive volume of Iran’s missiles, I don’t think any spot in Israel will remain safe.’ General Jafari also confirmed, in what appeared to be the clearest terms so far, that some high-level advisers from his elite unit were working in Syria and Lebanon, underscoring how deeply intertwined the many conflicts in the region have become.”
So now we have one of Iran’s top generals joining the president of Iran in calling for the destruction of Israel. The Iranian general threatens Israel’s total demise and destruction “if [Israel] or any other nation launches attacks against his country.” The Iranian president’s longstanding calls for Israel’s destruction have always been unconditional. Israel is normally referred to by Iranian government officials as the “little Satan” and the U.S. as the “big Satan.”
You can be sure that if and when Iran develops a nuclear bomb and a rocket capable of reaching the U.S., we here in the U.S. will be at risk simply because we exist. The fanatic Muslims engaged in jihad against Western civilization have as their goal the total destruction of Western civilization which they both envy and hate. Their ultimate objective is to convert the world to Islam.
There are very few Jews left in most Arab countries. In some countries, none. They were forced to flee after Israel became a state in 1948. Many Christian Arabs in Arab countries including those living under the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, have left their homelands as a result of persecution by their Muslim countrymen. Neither Bethlehem nor Nazareth are cities with a Christian majority. The Arab Christian population of the Palestinian territories has dropped to just 2 percent. Many of those fleeing their countries have sought and found refuge in the U.S. The Coptic Christians who remain in Arab countries, approximately 10 million in Egypt, live in great fear and have suffered pogroms at the hands of their Muslim neighbors. Christians are also in danger in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The recent attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Libya – including the deaths of Chris Stevens, the American Ambassador to Libya, and three other U.S. diplomatic personnel in Libya – have been followed by anti-American demonstrations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Yemen, Sudan, Nigeria, Iraq and Iran. Why should anyone be surprised? The Arab and Muslim countries hate the U.S., even those like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, who have recently overthrown Arab despots during the so-called “Arab Spring,” with the assistance of the U.S. and other Western countries.
Those who were helped by the Western countries to overthrow their despots immediately became Islamist states threatening the U.S. In Afghanistan where we have spent billions in seeking to create a democratic government, the Afghan army and police of the government we are now supporting and defending against the Taliban are responsible for the killing of American and NATO soldiers training them. According to The New York Times of September 16, “[t]he six deaths [on Friday, September 14] brought to 51 the number of coalition service members killed this year in insider attacks. The toll has already well exceeded last year’s total of 35 killed in such violence.” Training the Afghan security forces is the publicly-sated reason of the U.S. as to why we are remaining until 2014. We should evacuate all of our troops from Afghanistan immediately.
We know that when the President publicly stated Egypt was not an ally, he could have said the same about Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Muslim world believes the U.S. is not willing or able to use military action against Iran. It knows from the immediate and recent sacking of our embassies in both Egypt and Libya with the security forces in both those countries refusing to protect the American embassies, that the U.S. is not prepared or willing to punish those countries. Normally in such cases, is it unreasonable to expect our Ambassadors — those still alive — to be recalled? Is it unreasonable to immediately cut off as much as remains of the $2 billion annual appropriation to Egypt and whatever we are providing Libya? Is it unreasonable to prohibit Americans from going to both Egypt and Libya as tourists because of the physical danger to them? Egypt’s economy depends on tourism to balance its budget.
President Obama on a number of occasions has publicly stated, “I have Israel’s back.” I don’t know what that means in practice. I believe he should publicly state, as Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii said back in January of this year that an attack by Iran on Israel would be considered an attack on the U.S. that would elicit an immediate military response.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in February 2011, “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.” I agree with him, but that should not preclude our using our extraordinary airpower — rockets, planes and drones – our Navy and our stunning Special Forces where needed.