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. Angela, Alexandria, VA

    Why doesn't Israel just mind their own business for once?! Why the heck do we have to give them billions of dollars?! And for kill Palestinians, take their land, so people in the Mideast could hate us for it?? Just STOP giving them so much money, so people over there won't hate us. If anything, they have the RIGHT to hate us...look at all the horrible things we do to them!

    September 19, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  2. angela, alexandria, va

    northern va is NOT anti jew..i've lived here my entire life. This is not some hillbilly town. It has so much of the most thriving places in america.

    September 19, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Aaron smithsburg maryland

    Wake up people the Jewish Mafia is calling some of the shots on K Street and Wall Street shaping our public, foreign, and economic policies. The Jewish community is highly organized and very influential on a global scale.They are integral with American politics. Firmly instep with the far right neoconservative movement. Isarael doesn't have a seperation of church and state, and neither do we. It doesn't take a Washington insider to tell you that fact. Sincereley, Not an anti-semitist

    September 19, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. slinkymalinky

    Nothing like blatant bigotry from the hypocrisy laden party of tolerance to keep things in the right political perspective.

    September 19, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. julie austin texas

    I believe Rep. Moran is speaking the truth. We need to fact the fact that our unconditional support of Israel comes at a cost to many in the Middle East. Palestinians are suffering for what? Why are lawmakers scary of the Isreali? I do not want my taxed dollars to support the Israeli effort in stealing land from the Palestinians and inciting wars in the region. The world need to be united in its effort to bring peace to Palestine!

    September 19, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. Alan, Dallas TX

    Wow! It is quite humorous that so many of you concede such power to a group that represents 3% of the population. Do you think that the Christian Right does not influence power in America? What about the AARP? AIPAC may influence the govt., but so does the Insurance Lobby, Pharmaceutical Lobby etc. influence policy too. So many of you believe in conspiracy theories too. Jews do this and jews do that. It is funny. Do you think jews go to meetings on Fridays and talk about which person from Dallas needs to make the World Bank do this or another person from St. Louis make the the American Govt. do that? Oh, I need to go. I need to let my jewish neighbor know to call the Prime Minister of France. I want to get my wine cheaper.

    September 19, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Susan, St. Louis MO

    Isn't everyone missing the real point here. It is about the powerful lobbying groups who dictate our policies. Whether it is the Religious Right or the AIPAC, as a nation we should not sit by and let the few rule the majority. It is about time more people were not so "politically correct" and think more about the greater good for ALL people.

    September 19, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. Julian, Raleigh, N.C.

    So, a Democratic congressman joins those spreading the old "blame the Jews" lie (he actually was at it since 2003)! In the context of the war in Irak, this libel is most notoriously being pushed by Profs. Walt & Mearsheimer. It's sad to see that many people are ready to accept this anti-semitic canard, while ignoring the facts: Bush and Cheney were hell-bent in their determination to have this war and get rid of Saddam, regardless of the lack of any evidence of WMD in Irak. They are the decision makers. They made their minds up based on their
    wishes to gain control over that oil rich and strategically important country (quite unrealistic wishful thinking, as it turned out). This is where you find the reasons and responsibility for the invasion of Irak – in Bush's and Cheney's grand goals and decisions to pursue them, not in views expressed by some Jewish neo-cons, or in the actually inexistent support of AIPAC.
    Quite regardless of these facts, it seems that this anti-semitic libel is gaining momentum; this is why it's important for the Democratic party to stand firmly against it.

    September 19, 2007 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. GS Allentown, PA

    I do not understand why there is this myth that Israel needs the United States to fight its wars- other than to be a mask for anti-Jewish sentiment.

    If anything, the United States keeps Israel from responding with overwhelming military force. Think of the overwhelming military victories that Israel has had since 1948- the United States cannot say the same.

    Israel can take care of itself, they learned the important lesson that nobody cares about the Jews.

    What this congressman said is anti-Semitic and it reveals the dark currents underneath the Democratic party.

    September 19, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. J. Deis

    In order to clear up Mr. Sterling's accusation of anti-semitism, anti-Israel and anti-Semitism are comparing apples and oranges. A vast number of the Israeli population are of European descent, not of Semitic ancestry. This is a state issue not an ethnic or religious policy that Mr. Moran is exposing.

    September 19, 2007 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. stuart, fairfield ct

    this is what always happens when someone says something that could be interpreted as biased.... rather than assess the comment and use it as a springboard for discussion, the author is immediately discredited and dismissed, even if there is some validity to the point. various lobbies exert great power on the decision making process, and many of those lobbies have influenced domestic and foreign policy. the representative just stated the obvious; now he has to face the consequences for a simple observation
    about power, not about a people.

    September 19, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Jim Crary Ashland Oregon

    I agree with Representative Moran and it irrates me greatly that when you say something like this you are automatically painted as an anti-semetic. Maybe 60 Minutes should do a piece on AIPAC and let us all know more about the organization and then we can all draw our own conclusions about whether or not Representative Moran is right or wrong.

    September 19, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Ron Overland Park Kansas

    Needless to say this Congressman has stepped over the line and should apologize not only to the Jewish Community but to all his fellow Congressmen and women as well as the people he represents.

    It also sounds like the old south bigotry coming out.

    September 19, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. 44WAYZ, Baltimore, MD

    I think He's has the Right to voice his thoughts and opinions with responsibilty. This is The United States of America or is it The United States of Isreal in America?

    September 19, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Mischa, Washington DC

    Can we please not call it "Jewish lobby?"

    AIPAC stands for America-ISRAEL Public Affairs Committee.

    As an American Jew, AIPAC doesn't speak for me.
    And all polling suggests they don't speak for most American Jews.

    (For that matter, I'm not certain they speak for most Israelis...)

    September 19, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Kelly Burnett

    I agree with Mr. Moran 100%. This war was pushed by AIPAC and other prominent Jewish pundits (Kristol). Its about time the truth was spoken, I admire his hutzpah! I am not anti Israel, it just happens to be the truth!!!

    September 19, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. los angeles, ca

    Sadly, we are witnessing what happens when cousins marry.

    September 19, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Baruch Spinoza, Cheirem, NY

    "Read and understand the facts…24 Billion Dollars being sent to Israel daily!!!!" Posted By B, NY, NY : September 19, 2007 11:58 am

    That would be $8 trillion a year, 3 times the total US federal budget. Perhaps you should read and understand the facts (some arithmitic may help too).

    September 19, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Moe, Sterling, VA

    Finally someone has the balls to speak the truth.

    Folks this is not about anti-semitism or Racism. Any time Israel's name is brought up in a negative light, all of a sudden it is equated to Anti-semitism.

    The comments were about the Israeli Lobby, and their influence on getting us into Iraq. They are pushing for us to act on Iran as well. The day this country begins to realize that AIPAC and Israel's interts are NOT; ABSOLUTELY NOT; equivalent to America's interests will be a great day in the history of this country.

    Get your heads out of the sand peolpe. We are and have been fighting Israel's wars in the MidEast too long. Anti-Israeli is not equivalent to anti-semite. There are many Jew who are not Zionist, and actually oppose the state of Israel.

    September 19, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Greg, Miami FL

    I find Mr. Moran's comments to be both accurate and ignorant at the same time. Obviously, public speaking and the thought that goes into it, is not his strong suit. But even more disturbing is the reading of the comments posted here. Anti-Semitism is, sadly, alive and well in the U.S. Not from the Congressman, but from the readers of your web stories.

    September 19, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. DF in FL

    If I criticize Jerry Falwell or Jim Bakker or PTL, does that automatically make me anti-christian?

    AIPAC is a POLITICAL organization, not a religious organization.

    What is wrong with you people who automatically label ANY criticism of AIPAC as "anti-semetic"? This is ridiculous!

    September 19, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Sam Lowry, Portland Oregon

    I agree with Congressman Moran. It's Likud and Neocon policy which PUSHED us into war by wispering lies into the ear of Bush II. It is the paranoid Israeli Right (not all Israeli's) which bears large responsiblitly for the Quagmire we are now enmeshed in. The other two big players were "the Grand Game/White man's burden crowd" and "Big OIL/Business". Time to leave Iraq to the Iraqi people. Time for foreign occupiers to leave.

    September 19, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. SM, lanham, MD

    If you think his comments are anti-semetic you much be jewish or republican.

    September 19, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. Ray

    I'm just amazed that America gives Israel over 5 billion dollars every year for nothing. While people in New Orleans can't get nothing from a government they pay taxes to. People criticize Mexicans and other immigrants but no one ever mentions the Jewish population...are they not immigrants as well? yet they isolate themselves and basically do what they please no questions asked.

    September 19, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. david anderson

    I agree with Moran. He is speaking the truth. AIPAC has Israel's interests at heart Duh! Which does not always follow what is best for the USA. Its amazing to see all the Dems jump on him..kinda pathetic. The attacks on him prove his point.

    September 19, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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