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September 24th, 2008

PURE GOLD: KOCH/OBAMA

by Ed Gold

An open letter to Ed Koch:

Dear Ed,

We of course had our differences in the presidential election four years ago, so it’s very gratifying to me that you are now rooting for Obama and Biden.

I must admit I had expected you to go with John McCain, whom I know you admire. But that must have changed after he plucked Sarah Palin out of Alaska.

I recall four years ago that you completely ignored domestic issues and backed Bush because you supported his Iraq policy and felt he would defend Israeli’s security. Unfortunately, from my point of view and as you now repeat, you “didn’t feel that way about John Kerry.”

Your renewed support for the Democratic Party philosophy is particularly encouraging.

As you indicate: “it includes defending the [United States] public with respect to their civil rights, civil liberties, and other needs, e.g., national health insurance, the right of abortion, the continuation of Social Security, gay rights, other rights of privacy, fair progressive taxation, and a list of other needs and rights.”

That sounds very much like a liberal doctrine. It brings back memories of our early days in the Democratic Reform Movement when we helped found the Village Independent Democrats and went on to beat Tammany Hall.

I thought that once you got a whiff of Palin you would give serious thought to Obama. My guess is that her extreme fundamentalist religiosity, plus her conspicuous lack of knowledge about world affairs—‘I can see Russia from my house in Alaska’—helped to shape your decision.

Like you, I would have preferred Hillary as our candidate. Though she lost she made history, proving a woman can be a serious candidate for the United States presidency and can be as tough and knowledgeable as any male opponent.

I’m sure you’ve forgotten, but you introduced me to Hillary at your 75th birthday bash when she was running for the Senate. She asked how long I knew you and I told her “a very, very long time.” Then I joked that you probably hadn’t forgiven me for beating you for VID vice-president.

She laughed and said, “I’m sure he forgave you a long time ago.”

So now we come to 2008. This letter is to address the current campaign. Florida once more is a crucial state in presidential politics. For a while it seemed to be leaning towards McCain. Then, after Hillary and Obama spoke there, recent polls indicate a tossup.

Several political commentators have contended that the Jewish vote could determine the outcome. You will recall in 2000 that several thousand Jewish voters in Palm Beach accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan— a real ‘shanda’—instead of Gore, thus helping to give the state and the election to Bush.

Obama will need 75 per cent of the Jewish vote in Florida to win, according to the pundits.

The Republicans have been running ads there telling Jewish voters that Obama is friendly towards the terrorist organization Hamas and that Obama is willing to talk to the Iranians, with the implication that he will betray Israel. There is also a lot of Internet garbage telling voters Obama is a Muslim and took his oath of office on the Koran.

As you correctly state, “both parties and their candidates have made clear, before and during their election campaign, their understanding of the need to support Israel and oppose acts of terrorism waged against it by Hamas and other Muslim supporters of terror.”

So it seems to me that you could really help Obama by speaking out for him in the large Jewish communities in Florida as the campaign moves into the homestretch. I believe you went down there for Bush four years ago.

One thing I’m sure of is that you won’t need any notes to talk about Israel and how deeply committed you are to its survival and security, as you have always been. You know that there are thousands of “landsman” who remember your years in Congress and in City Hall.

And you know very well that Obama was greatly received before the Israeli-American lobby, AIPAC, where he explained his all-out support for Israel.

You and Obama, raising your hands together before a supportive audience in Miami, would make for a great political picture.

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