CNN Political Ticker

Congressman faces heat for comments on Jewish lobby

Watch CNN's Brian Todd report on the uproar over Moran's comments.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, is under fire from members of his own party for recent comments claiming a major Jewish public action committee was behind the push to invade Iraq in 2003.

In the September issue of the Jewish magazine Tikkun, Moran is sharply critical of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), saying "AIPAC is the most powerful lobby and has pushed this war from the beginning. I don't think they represent the mainstream of American Jewish thinking at all, but because they are so well organized... they have been able to exert power."

AIPAC tells CNN it has taken no position on the Iraq war.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, was quick to dispute Moran's charge.

"I think he certainly ought to retract the remarks, and indicate he believes that he was inaccurate on the facts," Hoyer said Tuesday.

“His remarks…recall an old canard that is not true, that the Jewish community controls the media and the Congress," Hoyer added.

A spokesman for Moran told CNN Tuesday, "It is not the Jewish people, but an organization aligned with the Bush Administration... that he critiqued."

In 2003, Moran apologized for saying Iraq would not have been invaded without the Jewish community's support. He survived a primary and got re-elected in 2004, but his latest remarks could prompt another challenge.

The Moran controversy takes place following the publication of a new book called "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by two political scientists, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard.

They argue that AIPAC, along with a loose network of lobbyists, political professionals and members of the media, holds an unduly powerful sway over over the U.S. government when it comes to policy towards Israel. That pressure, in part, led to the war in Iraq.

When the two first published their ideas in the London Review of Books in 2006, they set of a firestorm of criticism in the academic and foreign policy community, drawing accusations of anti-Semitism from some.

The two have argued since then that their critique is not anti-Semitic or aimed specifically at Jews, but rather that the government's policy towards Israel is becoming detrimental to greater American goals abroad.

UPDATE: Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, is circulating a letter Wednesday among Jewish House members that formally calls on Moran to repudiate his comments.

- CNN's Brian Todd and Peter Hamby contributed to this report