September 19th, 2007
03:11 PM ET
11 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. Maya, Columbus OH

    The Cleveland Indians just swept the Detroit Tigers. How come Jews, Cleveland being a notorious Jewish town, don't get any credit for this, because from reading these posts it seems people actually believe Jews hold ALL the power in the U.S. Seriously though, United States needs Israel because it's the only true ally US has in the middle east. And for all you folk that truly believe we should just leave the middle east alone, then I suggest moving to Greenland because there is no way that a huge power like US can not be involved. And for the poster who commented that all the jews were for the war, let me tell you my whole family (even relatives in Texas) have been democrats and against the war...and we are jewish. Scary scary world!

    September 19, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. MPG - San Francisco

    I'd be concerned if a PAC has any kind of influence over the president in making a decision to enter into any kind of military conflict. I'd be even more concerned if $$$ was paid to any of our lawmakers and foreign policy leaders that would influence the president's decision to go for it. There's no amount of money that could replace the precious lives of the brave men and women who valiantly served this country and gave their lives believing they were securing the "freedom and safety" of U. S. citizens.......very troubling indeed.

    Moran's assertions, if true, only sheds more light on how business is conducted in Washington and how badly we are in need of a serious change and desparately need people to serve this country in a decent and honorable manner for the benefit of all our citizens....not just a privileged few. That's not "liberal" or "conservative" thinking.....that's just right thinking. When will we ever get this thing right?

    September 19, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. Matthew, Los Angeles, CA

    I don't understand why everyone thinks AIPAC is only composed of Jews. True, they are the majority in the group, but I am Christian and I am proud to say that I have lobbied with AIPAC twice, along with a good number of other Christians. It seems to me that this board has just become a forum for people expressing their latent anti-Semitism. It really is disgusting. We are all God's creatures.

    September 19, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  4. Mike, NY

    Of course he's facing heat.

    He's facing heat from AIPAC.

    September 19, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  5. Joe in Richmond VA

    Cong Moran is 100 percent correct. The $120K hoyer has received from AIPAC talks quite loudly as well.

    September 19, 2007 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  6. Mike, NY

    Isreal is hated because the oppression islamic fundamentalist regimes need a scapegoat and someone to deflect there oppression and poverty onto, and once again it's the jewish state.

    Oh right. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the formation of Israel and displacing millions of Palestinians, right?

    It's like saying they hate us for our freedoms. A teenager in Syria doesn't give a damn about our freedoms or Israel's wealth; he might give a damn if we're bombing his neighborhood or Israel is sending tanks into Palestine.

    Seriously, would you blow yourself up over petty jealousy? "Israelis have better TVs, I can't live with that!" Or maybe it's, "Israelis just killed [X] people, someone has to do something about that!"

    September 19, 2007 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  7. Gregory, Miami

    Congressman Moran is a hateful racist. I hope to see him punished for his hate speech just like Don Imus. It's only fair, right?

    September 19, 2007 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  8. Ray, Virginia Beach, VA

    The article posted by CNN includes the following:

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

    AIPAC is aligned with the Bush Administration??? Oh really? AIPAC is smart enough to stay close to both parties–this way Israeli interests will never be out of favor.

    Nancy Pelosi is close friends with Amy Friedkin, a former AIPAC president. There is a soccer field in Israel named after Pelosi's father.

    AIPAC was implicated in trying to get Jane Harman (D-CA-Jewish) appointed as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

    And I could go on.

    Moran's lame attempt to backpedal only proves that AIPAC wields undue influence over U.S. politicians.

    September 19, 2007 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  9. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    I wonder what these same bloggers would have been saying had it not been the Democrat, but Republican congressman that uttered these comments. ... I can only guess.

    September 19, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  10. Jason, Riverhead, NY

    You are missing too many facts in this case. Look at people like Larry Franklin, where he worked, who he worked with, who he had access to, what he was charged with and maybe the whole picture will come into view.

    September 19, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  11. Nadia, Flint, MI

    Sad but true: this incident wouldn't have become a typical "anti-semitic" news if it was said by some Israeli politician. Even Israeli citizens are free to criticize such orgnizations and not be labeled anti-semites!

    September 19, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  12. dsmith,colleyville,KS

    Never has such an economic and geographically insignificant country had such a powerful influence over American policies as Israel does through its agent, AIPAC. Moran is right and the rest are just lining up of some AIPAC cash.

    September 20, 2007 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  13. Jeffrey, Chicago, IL

    The Israel lobby plunged us into war with Iraq and they'll do everything in their power to plunge us into war with Iran. Israel wants America to weaken the Arab countries for Israel's security. By fighting in the Middle East we're effect protecting Israel. America should stop acting like Israel's b**ch. Wake-up and see how much of America is controlled by Jews.

    September 20, 2007 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  14. AnaHadWolves, Philadelphia, PA, USA

    God forbid that ANYone have an opinion on AIPAC, et al, that does not include lying prostrate at their feet, groveling, and taking whatever they dish out.

    To even question whether AIPAC exerts an undue influence on the direction of United States foreign policy earns one a quick and unsubtle slam as an "anti-Semite."

    Personally, I'm tired of being Israel's bully-boy in the Middle-East and around the world.

    Does Israel exert too much influence on American policy? Yes, yes and yes.
    Guess I'll now be attacked as anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and whatever else these people feel like saying.

    Par for the course.

    September 20, 2007 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  15. Mark

    The Jewish lobby, Aipac, is the largest lobbying organization in this country. They control congress, press and act in the interest of Israel only, not the United States. This nothing more than legalized bribary. Why is it that each political figure must please AIPAC if they were not so influential. Can you imaging if an Arabic lobby had the same influence as AIPAC. Wow that would be considered terrorism. I say to all Americans, you lost your country to a small group of dual citizens, warmongers profiteers. Were else in the world do you have so many people running your country with dual nationality Israeli and American. If they were truly American they should renounce their Israeli nationality. They should all be tried for treason.

    September 20, 2007 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  16. Dave, Tamuning, Guam

    Glad that Waxman shows exactly which country he is loyal to, and his respect for the First Amendment. I used to have much admiration for Henry: NO MORE.

    Thanks for the clarification,, Congressman Waxman.

    September 20, 2007 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  17. Ray, Va. Beach, VA

    The orginal CNN posting on this topic contains the following regarding AIPAC: "A spokesman for Moran told CNN Tuesday, "It is not the Jewish people, but an organization aligned with the Bush Administration… that he critiqued."

    AIPAC is aligned with the Bush administration??? AIPAC stays close to both parties–that way AIPAC is never out of favor and always able to influence. For example, go do an Internet search on "Pelosi" and "AIPAC".

    September 20, 2007 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  18. Matt G, Hinesburg, Vt

    Zionism gives a bad name to Jews AND TO EVERYONE ELSE!

    September 20, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  19. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    For those that believe that the U.S. went to fight in Iraq for Israel, you have no basis. The countries that I see provide the most worry/cause for concern to Israel are Iran, Syria and possibly Saudi Arabia.

    AIPAC is an organization that lobbies the Congress on issues related to Israel. Both Jews and Christian (I am sure that there other are involved) work within the group. As was mentioned by other people, there are other lobbing groups. Frankly, I thought that it could have been either AARP or the NRA that could have been labeled the most powerful lobbing group on the Hill. One of the reasons why AIPAC has been seen to be supporting the war was that the attitude the Bush administration had (has) is that you are with or against us with little if any middle ground. It was seen as better to be connected than on the outside at the beginning of the Bush administration since the Republicans controlled Congress.

    There are several reasons, now and then, that the US supports Israel. One is that Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. I don't consider Turkey a part of the Middle East. There is also an independant judiciary that enforces the rule of law including freedom of speech. How many Arab/Muslim countries have that? During the Cold War when the Arabs were receiving aid from the Soviet Union, Israel was the counter point. Israel has also been a source for technological advancement that has benefited the US as well as Israel. These are some of the reasons why the US supports Israel.

    Ask yourself this, why do (most if not all) the Arab countries that surround Israel refuse to accept's right to exist? What have the Arab countries done for the Palestinian Arabs living in their country as well as the West Bank and Gaza? Refugee camps and weapons to make suicide bombers? Is this constructive?

    September 20, 2007 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  20. Karthik, Kiamesha, NY

    People are over-doing and over-stating AIPAC as the only reason for the Iraq war. I believe that AIPAC had a role in pushing for Iraq war, but people don't understand above all it's economic interests and the ultimate reason OIL. Then you have Arms Manufacturers who are benefitting from this war and the "War on Terror" fiasco. It's like this, if you push one country to buy arms, then you have the neighbouring country trying to compete with each other and there by having an arms race. This has been going on for decades now, when poor countries need to be concentrating on improving the situation for it's masses, it's pumping massive amounts into buying arms.

    If people want a full stop to all of this undue influence of lobbyists, there needs to be public financing of the campanigns. Untill that day comes, we are going to see more wars, misery, violence etc perpetrated against innocents across the globe.

    September 20, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. Ray, Va. Beach, VA

    S.B. Stein E.B. NJ : September 20, 2007 9:24 am wrote: "Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East".

    Some democracy. Israel allows ethnic Jews to freely emigrate to Israel, but won't allow non-Jews to return to the homes they had before 1948 and 1967. Israel is a racist state that practices ethnic cleansing and continues to steal Palestinian land.

    September 20, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. Desflags, Montreal, Quebec

    Everybody already know that. So, no comment.

    September 20, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. you have got my email

    Bravo Jim Moran, and mucho kudos for your courage and spirit of integrity!

    September 20, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  24. Gustav Saatchi

    I was very disappointed to see Jim Moran publically telling the truth. As we all know, American civilisation is predicatd upon the importance of lying; if public figures begin telling the truth we might have to stop going around the world butchering people – our very raison d'etre.

    September 21, 2007 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  25. Bil Peteson

    I agree with Moran

    September 21, 2007 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
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