Ed Koch: President George Washington’s Letter to the Jews of Rhode Island Applies to the Muslims of New York


ed-kochBy Ed Koch

President Obama was right to express his views on constructing a mosque near Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 catastrophe:

As a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances.

The president is also right to oppose as he does the efforts by some to amend the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution to bar babies born to illegal immigrants from becoming citizens.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was first to take up the fight to protect the legitimate rights of American Muslims to build a mosque near Ground Zero, was right and courageous to lead the way and point Americans in the right direction.

President Obama, according to the New York Times of Aug. 15, is now “faced with withering Republican criticism of his defense of the right of Muslims to build a community center and mosque near Ground Zero.” Those leading the charge against the president, according to the Times, “including Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, Representative John A. Boehner, the House minority leader and Representative Peter King of New York, forcefully rejected the president’s stance.”

The president’s position will be remembered by later generations of Americans with the same high regard as President George Washington’s letter in 1790 to the Jews of Rhode Island who built the Touro Synagogue in that state. Moses Seixas of the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, wrote to George Washington:

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People — a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: — deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: — This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.

President Washington responded as follows:

… The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy. G. Washington

Let us not do again, albeit in different form and to a different group, what we did to Japanese-Americans during World War II when we rounded them up without cause. No Japanese-American was ever charged with treason, notwithstanding that they were placed in internment camps for the balance of the war.

I am a proud Jew. Proud of my religion and my culture. Columnist David Brooks, also Jewish and similarly proud, in a New York Times article of January 12, 2010, wrote of our people’s accomplishments:

Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates. Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.

We Jews also have our share of thieves, predators, child molesters, Ponzi-schemers, traitors and profiteers. Muslims have their share of great world accomplishments — the concept of zero, advancements in mathematics, medicine, chemistry, botany and astronomy. They also have their share of crazies, tyrants, homophobes, those holding hostile and irrational attitudes towards women, vilification of Jews, Christians, Hindus and other so-called infidels.

Let’s be calm now and not need the passage of time to bring us to our senses and years later apologize. Of course, those who suffered the loss of loved ones, and those exposed to the catastrophe of 9/11 have every right to hold opinions opposing the building of the mosque. They are grieving and rightfully enraged at anyone associated in any way with the 19 Muslim terrorists who were responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11, and all of us must sympathize with them and their feelings.

But Americans must never forget who we are and why our Founding Fathers and those who built the original 13 colonies came here. It was primarily to find and create a new country in which they could practice religious freedom, denied them in England. Jews found that freedom of religion in New Amsterdam, where the East India Company of Holland directed the first public anti-Semite in that city — its Governor, Peter Stuyvesant — to let them in, he first refusing to do so.

I believe we are locked in battle with fanatical Islam and will be for the foreseeable future. I do not believe the vast majority of Muslims, and American Muslims in particular, are fanatics or enemies of the American people.

Government should neither favor nor hinder the efforts of religious institutions, other than to protect their rights to engage in carrying them out as permitted under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

A final word on those seeking to end the concept of American citizenship by virtue of birth, led by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Don’t they understand that the concept of citizenship by birth is one of the great American ideas of which we have been justly proud and which distinguishes us from many other countries and has served us well? They should not fear the Know Nothings, whose voices are loud, but whose numbers are small. They should not shame themselves by joining these violators of American values and traditions.


{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Why is it that Koch could not name a significant arab acheivement of the last thousand years?
    Why does Obama opine that the 9/11 terrorists do not represent islam when they practice the same faith and have the same beliefs that the taliban (de facto rulers of afghanistan and pakistan) and Iranians among others believe?
    Why did Obama find it important to tell Bloomberg that he was going to support the mosque at a ramadan ceremony when he didn’t find it necessary to tell Bloomberg about his “hudson river flyover” or the KSM trial location?

  2. Hi .
    i would like to point out that the Jews did not get freedom ofreligion by The East India Company of Holland right away,they recieved the right to stay and to trade “provided the poor among them shall not become a burden to the company or to the community, but be supported by their own nation” .”A year later, on June 10, 1656, Governor Stuyvesant sent the following report to the company on his implementation of company policies:

    Considering the Jewish nation with regard to trade, they are not hindered, but trade with the same privilege and freedom as other inhabitants. Also, they have many times requested of us the free and public exercise of their abominable religion, but this cannot yet be accorded to them. What they may be able to obtain from your Honors time will tell.
    So it’s clear he’s awaiting their order to grant the Jews freedom to practise their faith.
    Respectfully Will.

  3. Koch writes: “… we are locked in battle with fanatical Islam” That’s not so. The majority of the Muslims fully support their militant wing.

    Koch further writes: “Muslims have their share of great world accomplishments — the concept of zero, advancements in mathematics, medicine, chemistry, botany and astronomy …” Really? Where are they? Can Koch name 10 Muslims scientists, doctors, people that made the world a better place? The Arabs discovered the concept of 0. An Arab is credited with the discovery of algebra which is derived from an Arab word. But much of the discoveries attributed to the Arabs during their golden period were authored by Greeks, Jews and other people whose lands they conquered, whose people they slaughtered, raped, enslaved, and forcefully converted to Islam. Islam is experiencing a renaissance now before the coming of Meshiach. But we shoud not allow ourselves to be fooled by Muslims, our president, and Jewish apologists of Islam of Islam’s true nature: sheker, extreme cruelty, and more sheker.

  4. you do not let killiers moslims killers that killed our brothers and sisters come close to ground zero if the muslims want to build a mosque they can build one in there owne country. mr kotch you are worng the jews helpd george washinton gave him money to fite the brits. mr koch what did the moslum do for this country ?

  5. Amazing mr kotch, but what about feelings of people why is that allowed to be trampled upon, and most of walk why are the known terrorist connections of this mosques leaders not at least investigated???

  6. There are serious political overtones to this proposed building, intended to flaunt Islam’s victory in the aftermath of the Islamic atrocity of 9/11, so it is not just another religious structure.

  7. “I am a proud Jew. Proud of my religion and my culture”
    And exactly how do you show that? Eating in a treifa chinese resturant? (Meet Kagan there?)
    Are you at all aware what your religion & ‘culture’ require of you?

    FOR SHAME!!!

  8. I found this list of Muslim achievements using a simple google search:


    I guess when you google “Muslim achievements” instead of the predictable narrow search of “Islamic terrorists” you get different results and a better understanding on the religion of Islam. Who would have thought? Like so, I would imagine viewing ordinary Muslims as people instead of terrorists would help some of you with your Islamophobia.

    But don’t take my advice for it. After all, that “Mosque” near Ground Zero includes a basketball court. A basketball court! Oh the ramifications of such an atrocity! Those Jihadists are going to perfect their free-throws!

    Relax, the Muslims already compromised when they changed the name of their center from Cordoba House to Park 51 in order to sound more “New Yorkish.” It’s modeled after a Jewish Cultural Center and it’s there for the same reason, so that the Muslims, like all other minorities, can have a place in their community.

  9. I have yet to hear an apology from any people of Muslim faith concerning the idiots who flew those airplanes into the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Very soon it will be exactly ten years since that incident occurred. Until that apology is forthcoming, there should be no more mosques built in the United States and those that exist should be removed brick by brick from the American Continents.

  10. OfWould you allow a Japanese-American Monument of Victory over the Guyjin at Pearl Harbor? It will have a baseball field, does that make it okay? Japanese-Americans are a culture too, but you don’t allow an insult to all the families and the people who died there. Just because not every person of Japanese origins was not representative of the Military and Pilots doesn’t mean you allow them to honor the ‘Military Victory’ there, but that is one of the key sites a Mosque is erected on. If they want to buy property somewhere in Jersey, or Brooklyn, or Harlem, and erect a Mosque or Islamic Cultural Center where it is away from any site where the extremists they want to disassociate themselves from commited a heinous act, then that is fine. But when they want to put it on or near a site such an act was committed, then they’re celebrating those acts as per their religion and linking themselves to those terrorist extremists who they claim to be different from. It is their decision, either distance themselves from the terrorists, their acts, and the sites of those acts, or show they support those acts by treating those sites as military victories and commemorating those acts with mosques, monuments, and other edifices as is the practices of Islam for sites of military victories. If they didn’t want to treat 9/11 as a miltary victory for Islam, they’d have never wanted the Mosque/Islamic Cultural Center anywhere close to such a vulgar mockery of their beliefs which include ‘If you kill a single man, it is as if you killed all men; if you save the life of a man, it is as if you have saved all men’, since 9/11 would be like killing all men hundreds upon hundreds of times over. Millions died because they just accepted someone pretending to be nice while that people plotted genocide. We must use our brains and observe not just the pretty word but also the actions and ideals hiding behind the words. And sadly this may sound like an act of religious expression of peaceful ideals, but it is not, it is an act of insult and an act of support for the terrorists who ennacted 9/11 and every terrorist like them.