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. sharyl jackson seattle, wa

    So there is a lawmaker who has the guts to speak the truth........telling the truth is Not antisemitic. However, it isn't hard to see that anytime you question AIPAC, you are called an antisemite. America, why do you think that is? I thought this was a nation which prides itself on free speech, but not when you question anything to do with the Jewish lobby or Israel. Talk about sacred cows! Don't you find it odd that Christianiy and Islam can be criticized and questioned everywhere we look, but the minute the word Jewish appears, everyone ducks, runs, points fingers, calls names and yes, threatens?

    September 19, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Adam K., Northern Virginia

    As a liberal Democrat living in Mr. Moran's congressional district, I am hanging my head in shame at the comments of my congressman. He is such an ardent foe of Israel, a beacon of liberalism, women's rights, free press, gay rights, and the rule of law....values that liberals such as myself (and sadly, not Mr. Moran), should embrace in a foreign country.

    September 19, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  3. Chris, Washington, DC

    As a native Washingtonian I have always been aware that Israel could do not wrong in the eyes of the American government regardless of the party in power. I have asked many intelligent people why this is. To date I have received no answer. What have they got on us?

    September 19, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  4. Zehra, Naperville, IL

    about time someone said it.

    i'm surprised he was re-elected after his comments in 2003.
    google AIPAC + Senator Percy

    September 19, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. Nougster, Boston, MA

    I am skeptical of Moran's claims especially since he does not back his claims with facts.

    Saddam Hussein had so many enemies that there are trucks load of people who had much to gain in invading Iraq. For example, Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress were a major factor in the push to invade Iraq.

    Indeed, Chalabi provided reports of weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda –all of which has turned out to be false.

    So, one can argue that Iraqis themselves, not the Jewish PAC, lobbied the U.S. government for the Iraq invasion.

    September 19, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. Marsha, Middleburg VA

    It NEVER fails: criticize the state of Isreal's actions/politics/foreign policy, or make statements of FACT about AIPAC's influence over Congress -and the chicken littles plug their ears and scream, "antisemitism".

    This old ploy to silence dissent is losing its punch – better think of something new to divert our attention. Hurry!

    September 19, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. Gerald Gibson, Kokomo, IN

    Moran is correct. There is a BIG difference between AIPAC whos loyalties belong to a select group in Israel and the American Jewish community. The American Jewish community are Americans just like the rest of us. AIPAC is a small group of people that DO have unacceptable influence in Washington and a cabal relationship with religious extremists in the USA.

    September 19, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. David, Arlington, VA

    People, especially our elected representatives, need to be very careful in discussing this issue because of the sensitivities on both sides. On the one hand, yes, AIPAC did not "officially" take a position on the war, but behind closed doors it was well-connected to the foreign policy establishment and certainly exerted influence, both within and outside the Bush administration. However, you can't paint the entire American Jewish community with a broad brush because of the activities of one (albeit, the largest and most influential) political action committee. Moran may have had the right intentions in highlighting the influence of that group, but, unfortunately, his comments open up a Pandora's Box of anti-Semitism. As a result, he should clarify is remarks and promote healthy discussion about the reasoning behind them. Finally, those who might hold negative opinions about AIPAC, or misguided beliefs about the influence of Jews in general, should not use this issue as a pretext for furthering their own anti-Semitic causes.

    September 19, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. R. Cavaretti

    The best fundamental change that can come to the US government and the political system as a whole is the immediate banning of all special interest groups and lobbying groups, and their lawyers. Finally, a government by the people, for the people, with an end to corruption.

    September 19, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. Scott Williams, Issaquah, WA

    Moran is correct and it is a matter of fact. The Lawrence Franklin/Douglas Franklin Espionage scandal (also called the AIPAC Espionage scandal) makes this a matter of public record. The successful prosecution of this case proves this point.

    AIPAC, the Israeli right wing, and the White House neo-con inner circle were behind the policy of invading Iraq.

    It is a disgrace and shame that most of our politicians have their money-grubbing noses up the AIPAC derriere.

    There is more freedom to discuss these issues openly in Israel (which I support in general), than in the USA. Our political and news machines are aligned with the Israeli far right, and the results have been tragic for Israel, the USA, the Palestinians, the Iraqis, and the world. We have been the worst enemy of Israel by supporting very poor strategy.

    September 19, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. Ari, Ny Ny

    Why should he have to retract his comments when they are true?

    September 19, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  12. Ray, Va. Beach, VA

    What Moran said: AIPAC and the rest of Jewish lobby are very powerful and exert that power.

    What Hoyer and the Jewish Lobby said he said: Jews control the U.S. government.

    My opinion: The Jewish lobby exerts influence that is out of balance with the number of Jews in the U.S. population. The Jewish lobby's interests are often not the same as what U.S. interests should be. Moran spoke the truth now he is being attacked as an anti-Semite.

    September 19, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  13. napperfat

    AIPAC has in fact, been pushing for this war for years. Just look at Lieberman's stance on it.
    The US is fighting a proxie war (occupation) on Iraq for two reasons: oil and Israel. Period.

    September 19, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. Jessica, Brooklyn, NY

    It is sad to read these comments. I suppose the myth of the Jewish conspiracy is alive and well. Why did I ever think otherwise?

    I too believe that certain special interest groups wield too much power, but that goes for all of them. Where is the hysteria over Lockheed Martin, NRA, the Corn Lobby, the Irish lobby, the Christian Right and on and on. We could try to blame each of them for all kinds of stupid decisions made by our elected government.

    That's right, we elected these leaders. The U.S. is a democratic republic. Bush, Congress, and half of this country believed that the invasion was justified. You can't blame one lobby for that mistake. You shouldn't fall back on the Jewish conspiracy, blame Israel, and hate the few when we are all responsible for our government's actions.

    September 19, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. Amir Colorado Spring Colorado

    You would have to be a nimrod to not believe that we are fighting Israel's war. Of course we are.

    Not only do we give Israel billions of US tax dollars (when we are broke ourselves) but we also spend billions towards this war and shed the blood of US Citizens on Israel's behalf.

    Shame on all of the politicians who lack the courage to stand up and say what all Americans understand – we cannot be Israels benefactor forever.

    September 19, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. Bryant L. Detroit, MI

    I support this American Patriot of a Senator to stand up to AIPAC and FINALLY state what is obvious to those who care And are paying attention. He speaks the truth, but will surely be labed and libeled as antisemitic. Support this man, and urge your local representatives to do the same, and help eject AIPAC from our hallowed halls in Washington. Israel should influence nothing in American politics, lest we continue down this darkening path toward Iran.

    September 19, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. Sashland, Ashalnd, OR

    rful. They control this country and Israel is the 51 state of the union. Anytime anyone says anything that is true about Jews, they are labeled anti-semetic. You can dog any other culture, or race and that is okay but never say anything negative about Jewish people. Just take a good look at O J Simpson. It was not okay for OJ to publish that disgusting book but as soon as Goldman had it in his hands it was no longer a disgusting book. Guaranteed if Goldman was another Black man, Chinese or Mexican it would not have gotten that much attention. Tell me again who has the power in this country and who controls it. Just my opinion, but then who am I.

    September 19, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  18. Daniel, Fairfax, VA

    What the senator said is 100% true. Until when the US will stay Israel's slave? all what the US is getting from that is hostality from the world and more terrorism.

    September 19, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. Nate A. Brooklyn, NY

    When will Anti-Semites, like Moran, come to grip with the fact that Israel is our only dependable ally in the entire Middle Eastern region? Israel is virtually the only democratic nation in the entire, unstable area, and Israel supports American policy, ideology and way of life. Moran clearly allows his hatred and jealousy of the Jewish people and nation to infiltrate his political positions.

    September 19, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Bob, Wayne PA

    J. Moran's comments are ignorant. The Jewish community, just like Americans as a whole are divided over the wisdom of the Iraq war. Moran attempts to distance himself from claims of Anti-Semitism by claiming that AIPAC is a mouthpiece for Bush. Anyone who knowns anything about AIPAC or the American Jewish community knows that these groups are not in the back pocket of GWB. Jews tend to vote heavily Democratic.

    September 19, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Arnie

    Mr. Moran is right on the money. It is good to have someone who is not afraid to say the truth.

    September 19, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Barbara Kelly

    I am shocked by the offensive remarks by this idiot Congressman. However, I am even more shocked by the anti-Semetic tone of the comments by a lot of the CNN community that has e mailed their thoughts. It is shocking that so many of the comments agree with this bigot. This lawmaker should resign immediately. He is clearly prejudiced, and his record proves this. It is sad to see comments that agree with anti-semitism. You might disguise the
    anti semitism with psuedo-intellectual arguements: but the ugly truth comes out loud and strong in a lot of the previous comments. Unfortunately, we have a lot of ignorant bigots in this country.

    September 19, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. Martha in Springfield VA

    Moran's comments were questionable, but the bigotry displayed in these comments is disgusting.

    Jews rule the world? And whites have no rhythm. And black men can't be trusted around white women. And Germans love war. And Japanese are good with electronics. The Irish are drunks. Latinos smell. Give it a rest.

    It's about time we stopped thinking like the 12th century, isn't it?

    September 19, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. JORDAN SORMAN, MANHATAN ,NEW YORK

    INSTEAD OF NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT THE ISRAELI LOBBY MR.MORAN SHOULD BE MORE CONCERNED WITH THE IRANIAN PRESIDENT COMING TO THE UN WHEN THEY USE OUR FLAGS AS DOOMATS IN IRAN TO STEP ON. HE SHOULD BE EXERTING HIS POWER POSITIVELY

    September 19, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. Inside Job, New York, NY

    The U.S. & Israel have been partners in crime for decades now! It's time to end this criminal relationship!

    September 19, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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