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. Thom, Orlando, Fl

    My wife is a Jewish American and even she agrees with his statement. We both also question why America uses the "untied nations resolution # blah, blah, blah, when referring to other countries (such as Iraq, Iran) yet do nothing to make Israel abide by resolutions passed that required them to remove themselves from pre war land. Making statements against Israel is not anti-semetic. Read what Semetic is sometime and you will find that the Jewish people are not the only semites. Stop using the wrong term.

    September 19, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. HWR Reno, Nevada

    Of course. Plus the filthy country they represent is behind most of the worlds ills – terrorism.

    It totally dissussed me to think we give billions upon billion of dollars to the Israels every year so they can continue there one sided effort to wipe Palestine off the map.

    The so called country of Israel needs to be split in half, so the Palestinians can have 1 country, not the 2 little separate pieces they have and Jeruselum needs to be made a separate entity similar to what the Vatican is in Rome, one that can be shared by all the worlds people and not controlled excusively by the Jews.

    September 19, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. David Sturgeon Bay, WI

    If this Jewish orginization and other Jews are supportive of the Iraq war why aren't they serving in our military? Jews make up about 2% of the U.S. population (5-6 million) but you could probably count those who serve without taking your shoes off.

    September 19, 2007 11:10 am at 11:10 am |

    It is a shame that this kind of statement is coming from a U.S Congressman. Makes one to wonder how he got relected into that office. He is not well informed about the WAR it seems. He knows nothing about that region and nothing about the threat that Saddam posed to the world oil market. It is sad to blame AIPAC for the WAR. People are crying over paying almost $3.00 for a gallon of gasoline. Saddam wanted to control the entire oil market if he had the opportunity and we would have been paying $50-$100 if he did because he hated U.S so much. That is why he invaded Kuwait in 1990. Saddam posed to the world as if he had nuclear weapon and the world watched the drama between him and the U.N inspectors. We all watched him dancing on the streets of Baghdad on 9/11. Everybody believed he was a danger to the world because he was a mad man. Almost everyone in the U.S supported the war including majority of our law makers. U.S was winning the war in IRAQ until the Media started broadcasting pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and that was when the war took a different turn and they started killing U.S soldiers. Any right leader would have done what President Bush did. To think otherwise would have been catastrophic for America. The war would have come to us whether we liked it or not just like it did on 9/11 because America did nothing after the Embassy bombing, USS Cole bombing, 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Let us not forget. History will prove George Bush right and one of the greatest Presidents America ever had. Americans and Politicians especially should stop bad mouthing the war while our soldiers are there risking their lives. We should be praying for them and praying for wisdom for our President on how to end the war and bring our troops home.

    Thank you all for your time.

    September 19, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. Ron, Chicago IL

    I agree that AIPAC pushed for the war. But, as Moran pointed out, they do NOT represent the majority of American Jews. I am one, and they certainly don't stand for what I believe in. I also think that it is naive to believe that it was ONLY AIPAC support that caused the war: what about our concern about oil? what about the "America as an Empire" meglomania from people like Rumsfeld and Cheney? Neither of the two is Jewish and it is a massive stretch of imagination to believe that they would be shouldered aside by AIPAC. And what abbout the Christians who believe that supporting Israel will bring Jesus back? All of these things were factors – and none were important enough on their own.

    September 19, 2007 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. David Wallenstein Los Angeles, California

    Why should he have to retract a true statement or be accused of "anti semitism" for speaking about about the pro-Israel Lobby and our one sided support for Israel. Questioning our support of Israel and Israel's military and Palestinian policies does not equal anti semitism!

    September 19, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Ray, Va. Beach, VA

    When someone says something negative about Israel or the Jewish Lobby, certain people rise and claim that he said "a conspiracy controls the U.S. government", then that conspiracy that doesn't exist rises up and tries to take him out. Happens every time.

    September 19, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Alexander Strugatsky, King George, VA

    I'm only surprised that he stopped just a bit short of saying that AIPAC and the Elders of Zion drink blood. Maybe next time...

    September 19, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. David Atlanta, GA

    Cries of anti semitism chill the debate about how we got into this mess and shame on the Democrats for not standing up for free and open debate.

    Jimmy Carter offered his criticism of the he's labled an anti semite.

    American Jews influence the country's policies in the mideast...significantly. That's a fact. It's their right as Americans to do so. But if they supported the war in Iraq, they must answer for it jsut as the President must.

    It's no different than the influence that Cuban-American's have regarding our long suffering embargo against Cuba.

    September 19, 2007 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Jim Jensen

    Absolutely excellent!
    The truth needs to be spoken, and when it is, just look at who is offended by it and speaks out about it, and steer clear!

    September 19, 2007 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  11. Alec Jenkins, Boulder Colorado

    I agree with Moran.

    I never thought any US congressperson would have the guts to say the obvious. They are all so afraid.

    Clearly, the Israeli lobby is pushing the US to invade its neighbors (Iraq, Iran) for "free" defense.

    The Israeli lobby buys the US congress with tons of campaign donations and threats of bad publicity.

    September 19, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Dawn Cleveland OH

    Anyone ever notice that you cannot say anything negative about Israel or jewish people with out getting blasted. Look at the whole Palestinian/Israel fiasco. That place is a mess, why? because due to their beliefs a religious sect feels they have the right to displace others.

    September 19, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Brian, Houston TX

    He is telling the truth and the negative way this was reported (comment about the fact that he will probably lose his job) shows that the Jewish community controls the media.

    September 19, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Ryan, Boston MA

    It's sad that political pressure groups think they can influence policies, but then hide behind religion when singled out for their lobbying activities. And if they don't want to be seen as a pressuring group, LOOK AT WHAT THE VERY DEFINITION OF YOUR ORGANIZATION IS!

    September 19, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. Dave, Houston, TX

    It looks like the anti-Semites are popping up all over. The invasion of Iraq did nothing for Israel. The status quo before the war, a declawed Saddam Hussein being hemmed in with internationally-enforced no-fly zones, was perfect for Israel.

    If the fantasy of the bigots were true, why wouldn't Israel have made a huge military move to push out many Palestinians (like the ones that danced in the streets on 9/11) at the same time?

    The Israelis were sophisticated enough to realize that Bush, Jr's plan would be disastrous (like the older Bush also predicted) because it would have the effect of strengthening their worst enemy: Iran. Also, having permanent American bases in Iraq actually reduces Israel's importance in the region, so saying that AIPAC pushed the invasion for Israel's benefit is just anti-Semitic garbage.

    September 19, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Baruch Spinoza, Cheirem, NY

    If all America does is fight Israel's wars why weren't American GIs on the ground defending Israel from invasion in 1948, 56, 68, 73??

    And for all those who complain that AIPAC has too much power, why don't you don't do something about it and create your own lobby? Whatever power AIPAC has it worked hard to get that. It sounds like commenters on this board want that power usurped but don't want to spend any time or money to build their own network of lobbying power. How very un-American of you.

    September 19, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. Jeff, Largo FL

    He tells the truth...America let's listen

    September 19, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. Carl Willis, Albuquerque, NM

    It is absurd that critics of AIPAC have to defend themselves against broad charges of anti-Semitism. AIPAC is a neoconservative Israeli lobby and as numerous polls show, does not represent the prevailing views of Jews / Israelis on issues pertaining to the war, inter alia. I'm glad Moran has had the courage to call out AIPAC for what it is.

    September 19, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. Mark, Sacramento CA

    The American people and our Senators have every right to question the motives of AIPAC. If you think they don't have undue influence ask yourself why Joe Leiberman is the only member of the Senate suggesting Gen. Petraus should invade Iran! He's the one voters should oust.

    For a detailed analysis of the AIPAC's influence check out "The Israel Lobby" by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt

    September 19, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  20. Krash, Denver Colorado

    How dare all of you. The victim mentality in this country is out of control. No one is admitting mistakes, no one is willing to step up to the blame , and now you place the cause a war on a group of people who make an easy scape goat. You must fear and hate Muslims, for they are violent and uncivilized. You must fear and hate Socialists because they threaten your pocket book. You must fear and hate the Jewish, for they are manipulative and conniving. You know what that sounds like? Fascism. Being white and Christian is the only way to be a patriotic American. I serve proudly in the United States Army 10th Mountain and I have my Combat Infantry badge, can you say the same? Oh, and by the by, I was born in Israel

    September 19, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. JR, Milwaukee, Wi

    I agree with Moran. He statement was very accurate and not antisemitic. The truth cuts like a knife!!!The cry babies cry anti semitic. Typical of the religious fanatics who back tyranny and totalitarism. Keep up the good work Moran.

    September 19, 2007 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  22. Anonymous

    You wait like you did for Hilter and see what is coming. Ask yourself do you want to be an Islamic Country.

    Yes then you will not have to fight, if no they are coming for you.

    History repeats itself, but this time bigger.

    September 19, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. Sloop, Carson City, NV

    well, we're not blaming the Jews. we are blaming a corrupt and easily paid off government of the United States of America. as was stated earlier, it does not matter if we have Dems or the GOP in office, it will still be business as usual and corporate greed buys them all and they do their bidding. they look out for the interests of the multi national corporations and not their constituents. this is all planned and carefully orchestrated and we see another attempt going on right now with Iran.

    September 19, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Laban Seyoum, New Haven, Connecticut

    Jim Moran has always been an anti-Semite; this latest statements just adds to his records. This also show were the democrats are heading. There is an increase anti-Semitism from a hardcore block within the democratic party, Jim Moran today reflects that block. Its amazing how he tried to ally AIPAC with the Bush Administration in order to attract various of his colleague.

    September 19, 2007 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  25. David Medford, NY

    Wow. That is right. When all else fails, go to the historical scapegoats, the Jewish people. (Incidentally, why would of Israel "conspired" to push the US into invading Iraq???? Wouldn't you agree, that, Syria, or Iran pose a much greater risk to them, than Iraq did?!?!? Check your facts)

    September 19, 2007 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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