September 19th, 2007
03:11 PM ET
12 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. demwit

    Oops..., lost those votes.

    September 19, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. David from Michigan

    AIPAC's power is shown here. A congressman says what almost everyone in Washington knows to be true, but are afraid to say, and he is threatenned with a primary challenge which will probably be funded by AIPAC. The story shows that no one attempts to disprove his statement, but rather state that he just can't say it out loud. AIPAC will attack anyone who criticizes Israel for anything, or shows sympathy for the people living under their occupation. How did a groop representing 3% of our population get so much power? now there's a story that will never be examined in our corporate mass media.

    September 19, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. John Bloomington Indiana

    I agree with Moran. The entire basis of PNAC was the support of Israel and the security of it's borders.
    He shouldn't be blasted, it's the truth..Why did Perle and Feith and that crew go and visit Netenhau (sp) in the first place back in the late 90's, if Israel wasn't one of ther primary factors with drumming up a war against Iraq?

    September 19, 2007 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Patrick Dallas Tx

    It's about time !!!

    September 19, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. David B., Sterling Virginia

    I never thought of my hometown area - Northern Virginia - as an anti-semetic place, but Moran keeps saying these things and keeps getting elected, so I guess it is. Shameful.

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

    He is right and from what I understand if we speak in prophetic terms the US should just stay away from that region, its a heavy burden for us to carry plus Israel may not be as strong as the US but Israel will survive alone trust me.

    September 19, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. John Thomas, Edina, MN

    So, for speaking the truth, he should "retract his statment"? Seriously, people, WAKE THE HELL UP! It doesn't matter if you vote Republican or Democrat (in most cases), because either way you'll end up getting corrupt, self-serving scum! If you sheep would finally start to realize this, our country would become a much better place.

    And then, we have Ron Paul. He certainly sticks out like a sore thumb in this race, doesn't he? Oh, maybe that's because he is HONEST, PRINCIPLED and UP-FRONT with all of the IMPORTANT issues that face this country and threaten its demise. Wake up, people, this is our country.

    September 19, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Ah yes... classic move...
    When all else fails, blame the Jews.

    Can we ask for this guy's head on a platter now?

    September 19, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. Joe, Milwaukee, WI

    He is right; maybe American people will wake up and see who is really calling the shots.
    We didn’t need that war, it was not in our interest.

    September 19, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. Gary D., Austin TX

    There's no room in Washington for such racist ideology regardless of which side of the aisle it comes from!

    September 19, 2007 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Tina Chicago, IL

    Your hometown is not anti-semetic. What Moran is saying is the truth. It is not the Jewish people, as a whole, it is Pearle, Wolfowitz – and others who are part of PNAC and the Bush administration. One the one hand, I am happy to see people knowing this and speaking up, but on the other hand, it is immediately thought of as "anti-semetic." My husband is Jewish, I am not an anti semite, but I am anti Bush, anti war, anti Cheney, anti APAC, anti Pearle, anti Wolfowitz...these people are war mongers. Moran should have said it in a way that would not immediately label him as an anti semite b/c that is always the argument, and then things are hushed up. These people are so greedy – they are all in it for the oil, for power, it has nothing to do with terrorism. Wake up America. Moran – keep saying what you're saying.

    September 19, 2007 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. Cara,New York NY

    Just because he is criticizing the position and actions of a lobbying group does not mean he is anti-semetic. That phrase is used far too often anytime someone criticizes Israel.

    September 19, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. sonny c. v.p.,la.

    Speaking truth got one Hebrew beheaded & another nailed to a cross about 2,000 years ago.

    September 19, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. Hilton Adams Thibodaux, La.

    The Jewish lobby, Aipac, is the largest lobbying organization in this country. They control congress, and act in the interest of Israel, not the United States. This nothing more than legalized bribary. They should all be tried for treason.

    September 19, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. OB, Northern Virginia

    David "B" wrong wrong wrong ,

    NORTHERN VIRGINIA is not anti JEW ,just anti AIPAC , it is about time this was said by someone in some sort of elected office. The same can be said of the last war in Lebanon, the whole mideast conflict has to do with the JEWS taking over.

    Remember before 1948 there was no ISREAL ,only Palestine.

    Jews are useing same tactics against Palestine as NAZI's did in Poland in 1939.

    September 19, 2007 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  16. Gus, Flint MI

    These comments are not anti-semitic. Anyone who declares this as such is aggressively abusing the term. He is speaking the truth that everyone knows but no one (in Washington) is willing to say.

    September 19, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. Todd, Ashburn VA

    It wasn't a lobbying group that was "behind the invasion of Iraq," it was the President of the United States. If you're saying Bush is so easily swayed that a lobbying group could talk him into war, then there's just one more reason he should be impeached and tried for war crimes.

    September 19, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  18. Arkay, MI

    David B from Virginia,

    How do you consider Moran's statement against a lobby group to be 'anti-semitic'? By the same logic, our accusations of the regimes in Iran and North Korea are anti-Muslim and anti-Asian.

    September 19, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  19. Loyda, WDC

    Dear Mr. Moran:

    PAC like the jewish PAC excert power, not because they are well organizez, as you claim, but becasue people in positions like your ALLOW them to have power BY BENDING TO THEIR DESIRES!!!!!

    September 19, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  20. Freidman, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    People miss the point when the associate comments like this as being anti-semetic. Moran is not saying that Jewish Americans are behind the war. He is saying that a powerful Jewish Lobby is behind it.

    Just because he is criticizing an organization that is Jewish doesn't mean his is criticizing Jews. Anyone who does a quick study on AIPAC will see that the organization has some disturbing influence. And, I am friends with many Jewish people, who see the same way.

    September 19, 2007 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  21. Jim Lopardo Lansdale PA

    He's just finally verbalizing what has been very well known regarding AIPAC. Thankfully at least one of our politicians has the guts to state the obvious.

    It's just a shame and a disgrace in this country that we have become so "politically correct" that an honest assessment of this situation can't be made without cries of antisemitism.

    So because it's a Jewish organization, it wouldn't foment aggression against Muslim states?


    September 19, 2007 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. William,Miami Fl

    I have believed that for some time. The silence of the Jewish community spoke and speaks volumes. Lieberman to this day has vociferously supported the war.

    For once some one has the chuspa(sp?), as they say, to speak out about it

    September 19, 2007 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. Jim, Los Angeles CA

    The antisemitism of the "new" Democratic party (see the Daily Kos etc) is finally appearing in Congress. It was just a matter of time.

    September 19, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Eddie, Fort Hood, TX

    BRAVO!, Finally politicians are not afraid of speaking out loud against this administration, directly or indirectly, it involves final decisions made in the oval office. It is not an attack on the Jewish community, but a slash at the activist within the Jewish community that, through political and economic pressure, can influence policy. He should not retract his statement; Corporate America is not ran by someone at the White House, is the power of the wallet that runs this country, elections are purely symbolic.

    September 19, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. antonia gonzalez seattle, washington

    Senator Moran may not have the fact's correct on Aipac but it is true that the mainstream of American Jewish thinking etc. is very organized and are very powerful. 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 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
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