New York, NY, February 1, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) mourns the passing of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a strong and independent political voice whose outsized personality was matched by his principled stand on the issues that mattered to him most.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Mayor Koch loved the city, loved its people, loved his country, loved his Jewish faith, loved the state of Israel, and he fought passionately for the issues he believed in right up to the very end.
He was a force of nature; a strong, independent political voice who had the chutzpah to stand up for what he thought was right regardless of the political costs. He was a supporter of controversial social issues such as gay rights at a time when those views were politically unpopular. Few political leaders were more outspoken, or passionate, when it came to the State of Israel.
To me personally he was a friend, he was a supporter, he was a teacher, and a counselor. I was invited to at least 20 meetings at Gracie Mansion where he would bring people together to get to know each other. That was who he was, always reaching out to people, and always connecting them.
Through his unique brand of leadership Mayor Koch was instrumental in raising awareness about the plight of Soviet Jewry. He spoke truth to power regardless of whether it was Khrushchev or the President of the United States.
In the early 1980s Mayor Koch was presented with the ADL Jabotinsky Award for Courageous Jewish Leadership, named after the Zionist pioneer who helped lead the struggle to establish a Jewish state. The award was presented to him by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin who, along with Simon Wiesenthal, are the only other two recipients of that honor.