September 19th, 2007
03:11 PM ET
3 years ago

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


Filed under: Iraq
soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. Leroy Maxwell

    AIPAC may not "officially" have lobbied for the Iraq war, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A63578-2003Mar31?language=printer

    September 19, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. Josue Romano, Buena Park, CA

    To David B, from Viginia;

    I'm not a Jew but I'm a Jewish sympathizer and I could tell you this that the day will come when not even this country will stand side by side with Israel and forget Europe.

    September 19, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. Don Haskeli, West Hempstead, NY

    Moran says that AIPAC is an "...organization aligned with the Bush Administration." That makes no sense. They are a PAC and will lobby whoever is in power.

    To the others who have posted, was it Israel or oil that prompted the Iraq War? Or does it not matter to liberals as long as the war is criticized?

    September 19, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. Matt, Chicago, IL

    I wish the article was a little longer explaining why he felt this way... why AIPAC would want the war, etc.

    In my estimaiton, it's a silly comment.

    September 19, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. AJ

    I'm Jewish, I'm opposed to the war in Iraq, and I've never had any association with AIPAC. The Congressman's statement amounts to nothing more than "Blame the Jews," which is, of course, increadibly offensive. Gross generalizations about religious or ethnic groups do not advance the political diologue in this country, and they should be rejected.

    September 19, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Jonathan Endahar, Wheeling WV

    For starters, you're a guy who doesn't know the American government too well: Moran is a Congressman, not a Senator. Try reading the story next time.

    September 19, 2007 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. Steven J., Washington, DC.

    The fact that people respond to criticism of AIPAC with "that's anti-semetic" just confirms that the criticism is well-founded.

    The United States is not beholden to Israel. AIPAC is the most powerful special interest group in the US. AIPAC promotes the interest of Israel, not the US. Saying so is not "anti-semetic."

    September 19, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. JL Fox Chicago, IL

    Because we oppose the policies pushed by AIPAC and the governemnt of the foreign nation of Israel we're anti-semetic?? He shouldn't apologize for telling the truth about a foreign nation that seems to be dicating US foreign policy in the Middle East.

    September 19, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. AJ

    To clarify, I'm referring to this statement: "In 2003, Moran apologized for saying Iraq would not have been invaded without the Jewish community's support."

    September 19, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    Posted By William,Miami Fl : September 19, 2007 10:25 am

    It's "chutzpah" ;-)

    While Mr. Moran's constant criticism of the Jewish community certainly does scream anti-semitism, that's something his constituents need to take up with him as they are the ones who chose whether or not to reelect him. However, I do believe he does speaks truth to a certain degree. I can't help but think that Joe Lieberman's transparent motives in beating the war drum in Iraq and Iran are evidence of this.

    September 19, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. D.Domsky

    TYPICAL ANTI SEMTIC COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE WHO INSIST THEY ARE NOT! NOT SUPRISED.

    September 19, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. NHA, Brimigham, AL

    That is what I love about this country. There are people has the courage to tell the truth.

    September 19, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. john, Maryland

    Some folks are just too sensitive. So Moran says that a Jewish organization supported the war. Why is that bad? Does that group represent all JEWS worldwide? An offense against one is an offence against all?

    It's like saying that the Clintons are racist white rednecks because they were from the South. And of course we all know that only racist white rednecks live in the South!

    September 19, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. Jerry C., Pewaukee, WI

    When in doubt, blame the Jews.

    September 19, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. Steve, Gilbert, Arizona

    Why can't the nation of Israel be criticized for something without being labeled an anti-Semite?

    September 19, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. Tim, Birmingham

    Does anyone out there not believe that what Moran says is true? The Jewish lobby exerts such sway over our government that we guarantee Israel's currency and natiional debt, and pay them 24 billion per year for absolutely nothing.

    September 19, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. rob morris

    Finally, someone has the courage to tell the truth about the war and other parts of Us foreign policy. Why the lobby has any power over our affairs is a mystery to me, but they must be stopped and removed from any influence. I am so happy to see someone step and confront this issue and the lobby. thank you!

    September 19, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. bruce franklin square, ny

    how did someone this ignorant get into office?

    September 19, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. Mark, Jessup, MD

    I am getting confused. I thought the Libs said the war was the work of the evil Bush-Cheney coalition, now they say it was the evil Jewish lobby. We wasted millions watching Sadddam during the Clinton years, even the most liberal Dems came out saying Saddam needed to be ousted, until Bush actually had the guts to do it. What will be the Libs answer tomorrow? Space aliens?

    September 19, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. Joe, Dallas Texas

    I think the congressman is correct. Unfortunately, anything said against a Jewish organization or person in North America or Europe is always spun in such a manner that the true message is lost. Jewish people are to be admired for the way the help each other and thrive, but in the process they overwhelm local populations with their power and issues.
    There is no denying that that is the case in North America, and it will take more than one congressman to bring this to the forefront.
    Although international relations are complex, there is no doubt that the green light Israel enjoys and the pro-Israeli policies of the United States do not come from limbo. And politicians can’t or won’t handle this hot potato.

    September 19, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. sonny c. v.p.,la.

    Call me Anti-Semitic if you must, but when normally peaceful guys like Joe Libermann & Stephen Spielberg were frothing @ the mouth for "taking out Sadaam" it did make me scratch my head.

    September 19, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. Bill, St. Louis, Missouri

    Would it be anti-semitic to say that AIPAC pushed for the war? Ask Steny Hoyer if it is inaccurate that AIPAC exerts power. If it doesn't exert power, why would Moran "take heat" for his comments or have his re-election challenged? There is nothing wrong with supporting Israel, to the contrary, but let's be clear that groups like AIPAC exert an undue amount of influence on U.S. foreign policy.

    September 19, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  23. Jason, St.Louis MO

    Scapegoating the jewish community for society's troubles? This sounds strangely familiar. Hmmm... I can't remember where this has happened before. I think the place where this has happened starts with a G and ends with an -ermany.

    September 19, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. Joe Michaels, San Diego, Calif.

    The congressman is an idiot spouting neonazi propaganda. As a Christian I am appalled and believe he needs to be, not only censored, but run out of town tarred and feathered. Why is it always Jewish people blamed for everything foolish administrations fail at? This guy is just too ignorant.

    September 19, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  25. Mike Keizer, Portland, Oregon

    I guess Rep. Jim Moran should thank his lucky stars he wasn't Tazered for using his First Amendment Rights and speaking up on this subject.

    September 19, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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