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. Folke Bernadotte, Stockholm, Sweden

    I encourage all to learn all you can about the history of Palestine, Zionism, the founding of Israel, the 1948-? wars, and the plight of the Palestinians.

    The opinions of most Americans has been slanted by what they have been fed by the media and entertainment industry. Why...most Americans don't even know who I am.

    September 19, 2007 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. James, Durham NC

    The criticism I hear from the posters about Moran's comment is that it is anti-semetic, not that it is inaccurate. AIPAC does not represent the Jewish community in the United States, it is a lobby for Israel. If a lobby, any lobby, is going to take a position and advocate that position within the US government, it is fair game to point this out. The only critique you can reasonably make of those like Moran who point this out, is that their comments are not true. And if not true, then I think you can fairly make the anti-semetism connection.

    September 19, 2007 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Tom, Anaheim, CA

    Never truer words were spoken by Jim. The pit-bull attack dog that is the AIPAC will try to chew his leg off but truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow.

    September 19, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. Ashburn, VA

    Anti-semitism is alive and well in this country, and is displayed vehemently in the comments of this thread. I have to agree with the other poster that whenever there is a government debacle, "Blame the Jews". As a Jewish Democrat in Moran's district, I had the opportunity to participate in a community event around Darfur at our local synagogue. Moran said all the right things and by all rights, seemed to convey the same passion we have for addressing the horror of Darfur.

    But like I have personally experienced in my life with direct anti-semetic remarks, from both friends and foes, I am convinced the anti-semiticism is always there as an underlying sleeping dog.

    In terms of Moran, the Jewish community is not seeking a puppet, nor do we expect to agree with him on all issues, but we do expect respect and no anti-semetic remarks.

    If we as Americans can't figure out that the Bush Administration was hell bent on going to war in Iraq before 9/11, and it was because Bush #1 didn't take out Saddam, then we all have a big problem. Our administration is a laughing stock in the world, we've dug ourselves and huge hole, and we have a President who is a pawn......but by the tone of these responses, the common theme is as I said previoiusly, "Blame the Jews".

    Ludicrous. Sad. Pathethic. Just shear ignorance. And as a Jew, very, very scary indeed.

    September 19, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Moshe NYC

    I am Jewish. Every criticism of Israel or a pro-Israel lobby group does not amount to Anti-Semetism. Although there are those who hide their Anti-Semetism behind attacks on Israel. In this case Congressman Moran has spoken the truth and there is no Anti-Semetism. AIPAC does not speak for me or all American Jews. I am against the war and against the Bush administration.

    September 19, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Great American

    This is a silly discussion! AIPAC is the most powerful lobby in the United States and is supported by wealthy and influential people who want to benefit Israel by influencing the policies of the United States.

    Any other theories regarding the objectives of AIPAC are moot and only cloud the true nature of AIPAC and other lobbying groups in Washington.

    The "SOLE PURPOSE" of AIPAC is to influence US policies abroad, just as the SOLE PURPOSE of ADL/SPLC is to influence Americans domestically.

    For those of you who wish to decry reality go stick your head in the sand and keep your ears warm!

    Btw, AIPAC/ADL/SPLC are not the only groups in the United States lobbying on behalf of a Religion, Civil Rights, or Foreign Affairs, so don't get your knickers in a bundle.

    September 19, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. violeta, columbus ohio

    thank God that there are still few politicians who have enough courage to stand up and criticize AIPAC. And rightfully so. There have been many instances in the past ( Bush Sr., Carter...) who have been sharply criticized for their comments on various Israeli tactics, and somehow AIPAC gets the upper hand on it. Wake up America and open your eyes!

    September 19, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. USNavyBlue, United States of America

    Rep. Moran is absolutely correct in what he said. And the minute one speaks up and out about the truth of AIPAC you are ridiculed for being a "racist" "anti-Semitic" as a way to silence the person. This is communism.

    Why don’t AIPAC and their ilk refute the claims with an honest debate instead of name calling? Because AIPAC and their supporters can't because it is the truth!

    AIPAC is not loyal to America, her interests, the citizens interests and her sovereignty either. The only loyalty AIPAC and their ilk have is to Israeli which is NOT in America's best interest but rather treason against America.

    WAKE UP AMERICA these people are traitors and this will be the death of America as we speak. America is on the verge of communism because of lobbying groups like this!

    The post by John Thomas, Edina, MN: You are absolutely correct! I agree totally. Go RON PAUL! And the AIPAC and their ilk are in great fear of this man as they should be!


    September 19, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. Avi NYC NY

    I agree with the Congressman. AIPAC is out of control–they are like a Super Power–people are terrified of AIPAC–
    The give Jewsih people a bad name.
    AIPAC- stop your bullying.

    September 19, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. Karthik, Kiamesha, NY

    There are powerful people in all communities who tend to exert power and it just so happens that AIPAC uses it towards a nefarious end. There have always been people who stand up for "other" side going against their own country, race, religion because it's the right thing to do. We should be very careful in labeling people and to remember not to be too ideological in nature

    September 19, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |


    September 19, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Rob, San Diego CA

    RE: Mark, Jessup, MD

    And how do you determine that during the Clinton years the U.S. "We wasted millions watching Sadddam"

    If you think that's a waste of money, consider this: we've spent 315 Billion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan (the vast majority in Iraq). Just to clarify that's $315,000,000,000.00. Now here's a little perspective on what that would look like...

    Three-hundred-fifteen billion dollars ...

    Update : July 21, 2006

    This is the amount of money the US has allocated for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be spent by September 30, 2006, the end of the fiscal year. And the Senate is working on a spending bill that will add another $50 billion more in spending for 2007.

    This pile is 125 feet wide, 200 feet deep, and 450 feet tall.

    450 feet is the height of a 38-story building. It's the hieght of the Millenium Wheel in London. It is also the height of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas and the Louisiana State Capitol Building.

    If you were to stack the money in a single stack, your stack would be 19,887 miles tall, enough to wrap the Moon at its equator almost 3 times.

    September 19, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    Thank you very much Rep. Moran. It is refreshing to hear at least one congressman speak the truth for a change when it comes to Israel. And judging by most of the comments here there is a lot of agreement. AIPAC and Christian extremists have walked hand in hand with each other for several years.

    Why is it anti-semetic to question anything Israel does? This has nothing to do with the Jewish faith but everyting to do with the Israel the country. As ususal the media will try to paint it as being anti-semetic because the media loves sensation. And other congressman will use it to campaign on. I have a great deal of respect for the Jewish faith but I have a very low opinion of Isreal's policies and our country's blind support for Israel.

    I think it is high-time for our politicians to step forward and point out the power AIPAC has as a lobby and our blind protection of Isreal may lead us into a war that can not be won.

    If Israel is all ginned up for war with Iran let them go for it, I just do not see the need for us to get involved. If we ever go to war with Iran (which I hope we do not and would find hard to support) it should be with the larger support of all our allies and not just to protect Israel. After all, the Israelies chose to live in the middle of snakes nest of people who dislike them.

    September 19, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. Karen G., Fairfield Cty, CT

    It is not anti-Semitic to be wary of AIPAC.
    As others have said before, Wake Up, America. Read up.
    Unglue from the sitcoms and reality shows to study the truth.

    September 19, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. Todd Moran, Staten Island New York

    I believe this war was started by a Mr. George W. Bush. The whole disaster is the fault of Mr. George W. Bush. Laying blame on some lobbying group is insane. This is the President's debacle.

    September 19, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Donna Mansfield, Everett, Washington

    Does anyone think it is an "accident" that Israel is pushing for war with Gaza and Iran today?? Jewish, Christian, Muslim – we are all human beings – let's try to keep the world safe for ourselves and not be sounding the war drums on ANY plain! Rep. Moran may have opened up discussion points that citizens of the US need to have amongst themselves publicly – and quickly. Society and civilization are at stake here, folks!!!!!

    September 19, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. Solomon

    Why can't anyone comment about anything Jewish without getting their wrist slapped. Moran never blamed the Jews so I am not sure who this is anti-semitic. He is only calling the AIPAC as a responsible party for pushing the Government to initiate this war. Please read carefully. He never said anything against the Jews or the Jewish religion or Israel. He even said that they do not represent the majority thinking of the Jewish population. He just said that AIPAC lobbied very well for this war.

    September 19, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. Bobby, Ewing, NJ

    Finally, someone in DC has the guts to speak the truth. I'd re-elect him in a second if I lived in VA.

    September 19, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. Mindy Chatsworth, Ca.

    Since there are too many of you anti-semitic bigots on here to address personally, I will just say this to all of you –

    I am sick and tired of Jews being blamed for every bad thing that happens in the world. Hitler did the exact same thing in Germany and it worked. He blamed the Jews for the Versailles Treaty that ended WWI and imposed harsh peace terms on Germany. He set out to exterminate an entire race of people and, in some cities in Poland, he actually succeeded.

    My father was part of the American soldiers that liberated the concentration camps of Bergen-Belsen and Dachau. He saw "the final solution" up close and personal. What he saw there has haunted him all his life. He has been fortunate to live a long life and is enjoying his retirement, but if he ever read the lies and filthy propaganda from some of you on here, he would be livid with rage.

    How dare any of you say that it is the Jews who are behind this godawful war in Iraq? How dare you use us as scapegoats once more? It was this administration that orchestrated the lies and misinformation that justified our invasion of a sovereign nation that presented no national security threat to us. They are the ones who bear sole responsibility for this mess. Don't blame my people for something that has absolutely nothing to do with us.

    Those of you here who are spouting hatred and venom for the Jewish people are not better than Hitler and the rest of his Nazi henchmen. You should all crawl back under the rock from which you came. I promised my father I would always remember what he told me about the concentration camps and fight prejudice against my people anywhere, anytime. That is why I speak out against those here who are once again trying to repeat history by spewing garbage. You are a disgrace to this country.

    September 19, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Thomas, Houston TX

    Anti-Semitism is no longer those who hate the Jews but rather those whom the Jews hate. Read some some Theodor Herzl, a Jew, and see how he used Anti-Semitism for the Zionist movement.

    September 19, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Mark Jefffery Koch, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

    Every opinion poll taken before, and during the Iraq War the past four years has shown a higher proportion of Jewish Americans AGAINST the war than the general population. AIPAC is as strong a lobby as is the tobacco lobby, pharmacutical lobby, various energy lobbies, teachers, doctors, unions, lobbies etc. Lobbies are legal and their job is to do what is in the best interest of their members. To smear an entire people as being in control of America because a lobby voices an opinion that differs than yours is racist and anti-semitic. To take two former advisors to the President who happen to be Jewish and smear an entire people because you disagree with their views is also racist and anti-semitic.
    The Democratic party has always received 80% of the Jewish vote, and last time I looked Democrats were and are opposed to the war in Iraq. The old hatreds that lie dormant come out in the open whenever someone sees "a Jew" as the blame for all the worlds ills.

    September 19, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. Karthik, Kiamesha , NY

    I am afraid that some people are painting a broad brush about the whole Jewish community and that should be totally unacceptable. It's our duty to defend each other of all communities. We have Jewish folks like Keith Olberman to other high profile stars that criticize these lobbying groups and their influence. We HAVE TO REMEMBER that no particular country, race, religion is the problem, but a small part of each and every community that want to control the rest of us.

    September 19, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. Terry, El Paso, TX

    NavyBlue wrote: "Rep. Moran is absolutely correct in what he said. And the minute one speaks up and out about the truth of AIPAC you are ridiculed for being a "racist" "anti-Semitic" as a way to silence the person. This is communism. ... The only loyalty AIPAC and their ilk have is to Israeli which is NOT in America's best interest but rather treason against America."

    Navy, accusing people of being communists and being traitors is pretty strong language in political debate. This is especially true when it is obvious that you have no idea what Communism is. You certainly don't like being called anti-Semitic by people who have no idea what anti-Semitism is, do you?

    Is there a powerful Jewish lobby in Washington, funded by wealthy Jews? I would be amazed if there wasn't. There are powerful lobbies in Washington protecting and promoting every noble and as well as crooked proposal. Does that mean that supporting Israel is communism and treason? Of course not.

    On the other hand, are immigrants, Jews, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and others quick to spot racism where there is none? Yes they are. Are they also quick to spot racism where racism is really there? Yes they are.

    Is a dialog that consists of name calling and false accusations of the suppression of information the kind of dialog in which patriots engage? Especially at the beginning of this grim and unpromising new century? It is not.

    September 19, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. B, NY, NY

    Congressman Moran should not face any heat in regard to his comments. The American people have a right to know the TRUTH!!!!!
    Read and understand the facts...24 Billion Dollars being sent to Israel daily!!!! While Americans can't even get proper wages, Healthcare and a sufficient working infrastructure for the 21st Century!!!!!
    Shameful to political correctness

    September 19, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  25. Fred, Binghamton, New York

    FINALLY, someone has the courage to tell the truth!!! Unfortunately, the good congressman will now be vigorously attacked by the AIPAC jackals. AIPAC is destroying America.

    September 19, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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