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. Rick G. Ballwin, MO

    I don't understand how anyone can be against Israel unless they are anti-semetic (and most don't believe they are). You name another country in the world besides the U.S. that does the amount of good that Israel does. And, they are a true best friend to the U.S. AIPAC is one of the finest and smartest organizations there is. All it takes is common sense to figure that out.

    You know you're anti-semetic when you are outraged to see a story on Israel sending in a missle to Gaza that might kill an innocent, but it doesn't bother you that Israeli towns have been bombarded with over 200 missles send indiscriminatly at civilian targets from Gaza just since June.

    September 19, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. John Enigm, Oxford, UK

    Jim Moran is a hero to express what we all know but do not dare to say. Of course AIPAC was behind the catastrophic war with Iraq. That's because AIPAC does not care a bit about America and only cares about Israel. Just like they are now pushing us into a war with Iran. And not only AIPAC also zionist media like foxnews and zionist congressmen like Liebermann. Wake up America! We have a fifth colonne amongst us that only cares for Israel!!

    September 19, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. Joe Rankin Kyoto, Japan

    Politics 101

    Of course the Jewish Lobby pushed to Invade Iraq. What did you think? They would simply sit back and twiddle their thumbs after the extermination of 6 million men, women and children? Or just close their eyes and hope their enemies would go away? Hardly! They're going to do everything in their power to thwart their enemies including building the nuclear bomb – which they've done. So what's a few Jewish lobbyists in a town filled with lobbyists? Politicians make me laugh – they pretend the AIPAC isn't influential but attending AIPAC functions is practically a right of passage amongst politicians; what's more the AIPAC is quite able to quash legislation whenever Israel's interests are at stake. But what's good for the goose is good for the gander – which is why there are plenty of American lobbyists overseas. Welcome to politics 101 people.

    Joe Rankin

    September 19, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. SpeakUpAmerica, miami,fl

    Congressman Moran, do not stop there, Virginians should be proud of this PATRIOT for saying what is the TRUTH.
    Has Israel apologized for KILLING so many Lebanese women and children, for dropping cluster bombs-by the way, where did that inquiry end up?? Ask your congressman and senator, or better yet, ask Congressman Moran, he´ll tell you!! Has Israel paid for all the destruction it caused in Lebanon, of course not, the US is, as well as other countries, WHY????? Because they never pay their foreign debt-it is always forgiven. And they are getting $30 billion in arms, why not give it to the poor in THIS COUNTRY OF OURS.
    And, then, the US defends its f(r)iend in the Middle East and allow those trigger happy jews to slaughter at their own will and to imposse sanctions on the palestinians also at their own will,WHY???
    The idiots are WE who allow this to happen, Congressman Moran, DO NOT APOLOGIZE, you will be reelected and don´t bow to the pressures of that other idiot Hoyer for asking you to do so.
    As for the republicans, they are as useless as tits on a bull.

    September 19, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Mookie, Raleigh NC

    He is correct in saying that AIPAC was supportive of the war. Can someone attack AIPAC and not be called anti-semitic. AIPAC does hold an abusrd amount of sway in this country. So does the NRA. They are well organized. These remarks aren't anti-semitic.

    September 19, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Moran's remarks may have been inartful, but does anyone seriously doubt that the Iraq war is primarily about oil and Israel, or that American Jews are indeed well-organized and therefore powerful?

    September 19, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. Robert Kuvent Portland, ME

    Rep Moran represents the typical uninformed mindset that the Jews are behind all the worls evil. He would make an excellent fascist

    September 19, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Ryan, Minneapolis, MN

    It isn't about who, what, or why we are in Iraq. It is about when are we getting out. We are spending too much taxpayer money there and not enough here.

    September 19, 2007 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Sashland, Ashland, OR

    oops, there s a block quote under my name above in error – I meant to criticise someone else's rude comment and didn't get the quote correctly identified and attached to my identification of bigotry.

    Moran has a history of weaving back and forth over the line of anti-semitism, even if his most recent rant is cleverly wrapped in a pre-emptive deniability.

    September 19, 2007 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Joe, Boston, MA

    How can an American open his mouth wiht an oppinion against AIPAC without being accused of Anti-sematism.
    We are Tired and Fedup of being acused of Anti-Sematism whenever we try to open our mouth to defend what the American people believe is right or wrong.

    September 19, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. Eugene, New York, NY

    Such an ineresting view on things – war in Iraq was in Israel's interest?
    Destabilization in the region is in the interest of the small country, surrounded by much larger enemies on all sides? And oh, btw, by the time we went to Iraq – it was so devastated by the sanctions that it was no threat to anybody – attacking Iran or Syria would be much more beneficial to Israel. Supporting the war and CAUSING the war – is two different things. For those who are still in favor of "Jewish conspiracy" – read "Plan of Attack" by Bob Woodward and see wihch country was consulted about the plans of this disaster (hint – Saudis), look at who profitted from it and whom the first Bush administration consisted of and realize it was oil and ideology that lead to this war, not the "great and all powerfull" Jewish lobby.

    September 19, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Mike, Charlotte NC

    The Senate leadership is all up in arms about Moran's comments in an article about AIPACs advocacy on the Iraq war. It is interesting that the leadership is calling for Moran to retract his statement and say he was inaccurate in his comments. Interestingly enough, the Israeli media backs Moran up.

    Here is an article in haaretz, an Israeli newspaper:

    Moran clearly wasn't the only person to notice this:

    This was reported in the Washington Post four years ago!

    Here is coverage from overseas in 2005:

    This article in March in the Jewish Journal was taken off line TODAY, but is still available in Google Cache and in Internet Archive.

    Is someone trying to suppress the record?

    September 19, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Sean, Philadelphia PA

    It is shameful that this topic has not been seriously discussed in public. It seems obvious that an organization such as AIPAC would support U.S. intervention in the Middle East. There has been documentation in books such as "Pretext to War" that show how Israel was involved with supplying information that would sell the Iraq War to congress. The U.S. should not fight Israel's battles.

    September 19, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Ray, Va. Beach, VA

    Some replies to the above

    GS Allentown, PA : September 19, 2007 12:08 pm wrote "If anything, the United States keeps Israel from responding with overwhelming military force."

    Of course we do GS! We even pay Israel not to take military action! And Israel knows we will pay. At least in this cases we are smart enough to prevent Israel from drawing us into broader conflict.

    Mindy Chatsworth, Ca. : September 19, 2007 11:53 am wrote "My father was part of the American soldiers that liberated the concentration camps of Bergen-Belsen and Dachau..."

    I wonder what America's greatest generation would say if they saw how Israel has since abused the Palestinians, stolen Palestinian land, and made Gaza a prison. Mindy, I recommend you take a trip to West Bank and see for yourself how times have changed.

    September 19, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Mario, NYC, NY

    AIPAC does not represent the fine Jewish people in the USA. It directly represents Israel, and is a foreign lobbying organization. And it is very good at it's job. Our government is controlled by money (just look at how much money is being spent on the various presidential campaigns this year), and we, as Americans, have no one to blame but ourselves for letting money control our government, and the decisions it makes.

    September 19, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Catherine Woods

    Why does anyone who dares to question the actions of Israell immediately get branded anti-semitic? Why must the actions of this one country be beyond criticism? Any intelligent/informed person knows that some of Israels actions are not anything to be proud of. Jimmy Carter got it correct when he said that it was practising aparthied yet he was immediately villified for his comments. The Gaza strip is one huge open prison. Palestinian children die for want of basic services.Poverty is endemic yet this country supports israel without question. It is time to have an open discussion on how far this country should go to support Israel and how many of the UN resolutions and international laws that Israel flouts should be enforced. Only then will we begin to solve the very grievous problem of the Middle East.No doubt I will immediately be branded anti-semitic for saying this but I think the time has come to stand up for very open questioning of our policy towards Israel and its powerful lobby that is at the root of so many injustices in the Middle east.

    September 19, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. bob hauppauge n.y.

    blame bush and those oil rich texans.

    September 19, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. John Meyers, Philadelphia

    So where's Rudy and why isn't he demanding that a Republican apologize for once?

    September 19, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. Mike Brooks, Eugene, Oregon

    Of course they are! And, it isn't anti-semitic to say so, either, it's just a fact. Since French voters insanely elected Nicolas Sarkozy, a Jewish conservative. Now, they find out that he is a Zionist and is actively pushing for a pre-emptive war with Iraq and Syria becasue of their nuclear programs. The "Jewish Lobby", better termed the "Zionist Lobby", because only a minority of Jews are Zionists, is responsible for "globalization", George W. Bush, and Hillary Clinton, three of the worst thing to ever happen to this country.

    September 19, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Michael, Washington, DC

    Bush made the call to invade Iraq and say in Iraq. Bush is the "decider" as he puts it - not anyone or any group. If you don't like the war, good - but don't start blaming anyone but the person who is the "decider."

    September 19, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  21. Chris, Washington, DC

    To GS in Allentown:

    The U.S. filled an unmarked El Al Boeing 747 cargo conversion with tactical nuclear weapons at Langley AFB, VA, headed for Israel at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War. Who says they don't need the U.S. to fight their (its) wars?

    September 19, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. goldie harlow, flushing, ny

    bravo for speaking the truth mr. moran...anyone who denies this is either a fool or a coward...

    September 19, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. ralph sparks, Denver colorado

    why is it that it is okay for americans to go settle in Palestinian territory? 20%to 30% of the illegal settlers in the palestinian territory ARE AMERICANS. Does anyone remember when Katrina happened Israel was pulling out of the settlements and the U.S. gov't sent over 2.2 billion dollars to help them with the pullout at the same time there were people dying in the streets of new orleans."Israel is asking the United States for $2.2 billion in additional aid to help pay for its upcoming withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank," the Israeli deputy prime minister, Shimon Peres, said Monday.
    Why? Once again Israel caused this mess and we have to go to their rescue yet again. This of course didn't get much media attention at the time because of Katrina. So if anyone thinks that the Jewish lobby does not have any influence you are nuts.

    September 19, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. C.H, Tucson, AZ

    He's right. The Zionist Jewish lobbies in this country are pulling all the strings. And they DO run the media, Hollywood, the publishing industry, the fashion industry, and the banking industry. Their sneaky way is to cry "anti-semitism" every time someone catches on to them. There are many leaders in this administration who have dual citizenship as Israelis. Yikes!!!

    September 19, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Topeka, KS

    If the Red Sox lose the division to the Yankees, I guarantee it will be the fault of the Jewish Lobby. They have been manipulating the strike zone to favor Yankee hitters. Last time I checked, George Bush started this war. But it's easier to blame Jews. My Jewish friends are mostly anti Iraq war, unlike myself who supports shooting terrorists. Truly, if you want to blame the Jews, blame them for trying to stop this war. But that wouldn't be much of a news story, would it.

    September 19, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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