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. James L, Tucson AZ

    This is a topic that is wholly under appreciated! Thank you CNN for covering it! The fact that ANYONE who offers legitimate criricism of groups like AIPAC and the like are labeled 'anti-semitic' is unjust. Study the facts and read your history, These particular groups, that have a pro-Israel agenda, control much more than people realize. They are organized, well-financed, and powerful.

    President Carter's book illustrates this point in some detail.

    September 19, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Jeff Asay, Narberth, PA

    How is this any different than saying South Florida unduly influences our Cuban policy? I can't say whether these views are influenced by anti-Semitism, but it is concerning that whenever someone criticizes a lobby, be it Cuban-Americans over Cuban relations or Hispanic-Americans over immigration, the cry of racism is immediately and harshly brought down upon the heads of those who dare utter opposition. Usually, the phrase 'they doth protest too much, methinks' applies when aggressive, self-indignation is on display.

    While America is Israel's oldest and truest ally, it is my feeling that our ally holds too much sway over American foreign policy.

    September 19, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. I. Jones, New York , NY

    I support Jim Moran 100 percent. I believe that if we as Americans free ourselves of this burden Israel than "Terrorism" will be defeated.

    September 19, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Norfolk, VA


    "Read and understand the facts…24 Billion Dollars being sent to Israel daily!!!!"

    I don't even know if it's worth giving you the facts, but the US does not send 24 billions dollars daily. In FACT, they send 1/8 of that a year. Even that much is considered too much by an Israeli populace that feels constrained by American interests.

    Whether or not Moran is being anti-Semitic, anti-Semitism is on the rise all over the world. In light of the fact that the media have done so much to bring that about, do you really think that the Jews control the media and government?

    September 19, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. We the people for the people, Franklin MA

    So it has come down to lobbyist to run the country. How shameful, that we have to hide behind CNN “write your comments” to voice our opinion or thoughts that has nothing to do with anti-Semitisms in the first place. Flashback: March 2002 – We didn’t find any WMD in Iraq and need little more time to search the whole country –IAEA. Richard Norman Perle, Paul Dundes Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith pushed so much for the Iraq War that anytime given to Saddam would be have been unacceptable to them. If you look at their affiliation to different groups you will see it yourself where do they stand. I don’t have to convince the audience, everything is on the internet for you to read and educate yourself.

    September 19, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. anony

    If you search/Google "aipac cufi" you will find that Christians and Jews want to bring about war in Iraq to speed up the second coming of Christ. When these two groups work together, they are an influential group that gets their agenda addressed because few lawmakers want to infuriate the Christian Right. I think Moran is pushing a deeper agenda into the public spotlight by exposing the groups AIPAC and although still in the background, CUFI.

    September 19, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Larry W.

    Being critical of someones actions and beliefs does not constitute racism or anti-sentitism. Anytime anyone questions the motives of the Jewish lobby they are immediately condemd as such. I have much respect for this guy for stating fact at what will likely be his own expense. It is time we stopped playing stupid, stop submitting to our guilt complex regarding Jews and call them out for what has become common knowledge – that they are deeply rooted in US foreign policy. It's shamefull on our part to allow our elected officials to kowtow to Isreal. Intolerable comes to mind as well. Call me antisematic if you like, but let it be known, I do not hate Jews.

    September 19, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Bruce Menin, Newburyport, MA

    As a Jew by birth and practice, I often find myself sorting out these firefights on line, even within my own family. As a believer in peace and dialogue.

    First, I am not offended by Moran's remarks. I have long despaired of the malign influence of AIPAC on foreign policy decisions made in the region, as much as I have despaired of the of the growing intermingling of Israeli strategic priorities (survival) and Bush strategic priorities (oil, profit, and control in the region). I don't believe they overlap very well, but AIPAC does.

    In my daily life, I find that Jews of conscience support Israel, but have been able to separate that support from the idea that whatever Israel does is fine. Many American Jews were appalled that Ariel Sharon, who allowed, encouraged the genocide of Palestinians in the refugee camps to occur, was ever permitted to participate in the government. There is nothing anti-semitic about that sentiment; in fact, it is the ultimate pro-semitic position to take.

    What the message many Diasporan Jews took from WWII was "Never Again". This was expressed two ways; the hypermilitancy of Israel, a Jewish homeland, necessary to defend and defend itself again from groups expressly committed to destroying it– and the belief that we will never allow genocide to be used as a weapon of war again, be it Darfur, Serbia, Palestein, or Iran.

    Moran comments on the strategic alignment of Israeli and United States regional goals around the policy goals of the Bush administration; AIPAC, already convicted of passing classified information out of the United States, is the visible arm of the American movement that supports Israel, regardless of the stubborn ineffectiveness of it's policies towards Palestinians; Mr. Moran more closely reflect the views of many American Jews who are fearful of Israel and the United States finding ways to manipulate each other to accomplish strategic regional goals that are morally vacuous and poorly considered.

    That is blindness. Moran lacks elegance, but he speaks a truth here that resonates with this Jew; not because I am self-loathing, but because my upbringing as a Jew requires me to consider justice and not expediency as part of every decision I make as a person and a Jew.

    September 19, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. HWR Reno, Nevada

    The response from some of these bleeding heart pro Israels is so typical and down right hilarious. Now who is really a racist, who are you trying to kid. LOL

    Enough is enough, our arrogance is in direct response to your arrogance.

    The truth of the matter is, everybody knows the horrors of WW2 on your people, and yes there is sympathy. So you can stop using that as an excuse.
    But 60 years later your continued hatrid and treatment of the Palestinian people has to change.

    The fact is, until the Palestinian people get a real homeland (1 country), nothing will change, but only get worse. And that is the arrogance of Israel – I know not one of you pro Israel folks could even utter those words.

    September 19, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Brian, Allendale, NJ

    Great Marketing: Way to push the Book

    I mean, would anyone here, ANYONE AT ALL, have heard of this book without this emotionally jarring, highly volatile statement that warrants front page attention?

    Go ahead read the book – whatever – I'm sure its useful, if not completely accurate – but see this coverage for what it is: a marketing tool to push a book. NOT an intriguing expose on politics or a brave soul saying "what everyone knows." I'm in PR, so I can say this.

    Rile people up with catchy, engrossing headlines, and they'll click on the story – GUARANTEED.

    Enjoy the book. 🙂

    September 19, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Clif, Phila., PA

    Bravo! At last, someone with the balls to speak the truth.

    September 19, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. SK, Charlotte, NC

    We're becoming a nation of idiots – "Obama is too white", "The Jews Made Us Do It". GWB had this on his agenda from his father's administration. 9/11 was the excuse, not the cause.

    To think otherwise rational people could be "made" to support the war by a lobbying organization, regardless of its premise, is ludicrous.

    Why would we not meet with the Israeli government prior to an invasion? Unlike Panama, Grenada, or other housecleaning invasions, here we only had one regional ally – and by the way – only one regional ally with atomic weapons. Pull the plug on Israel and you imperil not only the Middle East, but Europe and Asia as well.

    September 19, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Tom, Corona Del Mar, CA

    We fought this terrible war for two main reasons: 1. Israel, 2. Oil, we wasted more than half a trillion dollars of our taxes for this losing cause and more importantly we lost 4000 of our finest. was it worth it? I think not, Its time to punish AIPAC for there crimes against our country. Bring back our troops and stop our blind support for Israel NOW!!!!

    September 19, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Dan, Toledo, Ohio

    Side note...its 16 million dollars daily, not 24 billion...its somewhere around there per year, none the less absolutely rediculous. To say it is anti-semetic is absolutely ignorant. Eunice, my friend, you have just made several arguments more clear that Bush went to war for oil, the media is controlled by a select few who can manipulate our minds. (the dancing in the street was actually from another event that was replayed on 9/11 to rally support for invasion) also if saddam posed as such a threat when really hes not...well i guess we could make the point that he already won the war when we played into his game. Congratulations to the media as well, take CNN for example, articles about this Palestinian/Israeli conflict are entirely biased towards Israel when ISRAEL is invading and ISRAEL is killing the Palestinians...and the Palestinians are trying to defend themselves during this oppression. Its sad America is so blind to this murder

    September 19, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Mark R., Fort Lauderdale FL

    I don't know whether this man is anti-semitic. He does appear to be rather foolish, as he caused a big uproar the last time he brought this up, yet he brought it up again. However, isn't it true that a large number of Jewish people, and even the Jewish government, were in favor of the war? I mean, it was in Israel's interest to get rid of Saddam Hussein, who attacked Israel verbally and with SCUDS on more than one occasion. I don't think those interest groups control our government, but it's believable that they were one voice being heard.

    September 19, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Allison Wiggins, San Antonio, Texas



    September 19, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. Patrick, New York, NY

    AIPAC is being called out here NOT the JEWish people, I am a Jew and am against this lobby!!...people wake up!! The congressman is totally correct on his point. This lobby has too much power and must be stopped

    September 19, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. Chabuka

    Steny..thats jewish isn't it...!? How many of the "lawmakers" and top administration officials are dual American-Jewish citizens...? Lieberman, Abramoff, Pearle, Kristol in the media..? In the Congress..? How many of our lawmakers are lobbied by AIPAC..and given campaign funds from AIPAC..? Who is pushing for a war with Iran..using the U.S. troops and resources (even while we send them billions in foriegn aide)..Israel...of course Israel's double agents are running this country..using our wealth and our soldiers like a great big attack dog for their benefit...some of us are not stupid or Jewish

    September 19, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. BCNU purple state, usa

    RE: B ny ny

    The American people have a right to know the TRUTH!!!!!
    Read and understand the facts…24 Billion Dollars being sent to Israel daily!!!!

    I love emotional do-gooders! Always using terms like TRUTH and facts, get educated, read and understand.

    Every argument is presented in this manner, ...the facts are!...

    According to the national debt is currently 8.9 trillion dollars. (Nothing to be proud of, that's for sure!) But according to B above, we could wipe that out in nearly a year(8.76 trillion) by suspending the 24 billion PER DAY that we send to Israel. The 8.76T is MORE than our combined federal budget of 2006 which includes foreign aid. For a country of just over 7 million (Israel), that works out to 1.2 million dollars per person. Wow, we probably could afford Universal healthcare for that kinda cash! A chicken in every pot, hell, some pot in every chicken.

    All I'm saying is, be very wary of those who are incredibly enthusiastic to share the TRUTH with you where politics is concerned.

    September 19, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. a. h. smith, bowie, md

    Labeling people antisemitic because they criticize the government of Israel and those who support everything Israel does is a despicable and morally indefensible tactic. Call me an antisemite if you wish to–it will be a filthy lie–but I will say what is obvious to anyone who cares to look at reality honestly. Israel's government has acted, on many occasions, irresponsibly. I and many others who are sympathetic to Israel, believe that those actions have not been in the best interests of Israel or anyone else. The Israeli people and government have, understanably, developed a bunker mentality that does not promote sound policymaking. Unqualified support for Israel's extreme actions, such as the attacks on Lebanon, does not serve Israel's best interests and have injured US interests.

    I believe the West, including the US, owes support to Israel. A millennium of antisemitic persecution mandates such support. That does not equal unqualified support for Israeli policies when such policies, in the judgment of the West, are wrongheaded and counterproductive.

    September 19, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. George, Washington D.C.

    For those of you who are new to politics, US foreign policy in the middle east is dictated by Israel. Check out whatreallyhappened dot com.

    September 19, 2007 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. David, Dallas Tx

    I am one of the most liberal people you could meet, strongly anti-racist, pro-women's rights, I'm not against illegal immigrants, etc. etc.

    I don't have anything against (or for) Jewish people. They don't evoke any strong emotions in me at all. Regarding Isreal, now that they have ceded land for the formation of a Palestinean State, I'm cautiously supportive of Israel.

    But I recognize that special interest groups and political action committees (PAC's) wield undue influence over our politicians. AIPAC is one of them, and their history is clearly pro-Israeli.

    I don't think Israel controls the US government. But does Israel wield some degree of influence over our politicians via AIPAC? It seems obvious.

    Is that a good thing?

    I don't think so. I don't like it when gun lobbyists and Big Oil use their PAC's and lobbyists to funnel cash to their pet politicians. But at least they aren't at the beck and call of a foreign nation.

    Domestic PAC's are bad; how much worse, foreign PAC's?

    September 19, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. William Z. Ft. Lauderdale, FL

    As a Jew, I've heard similar anti- semitic remarks all my life; Jews controll the US economy/Hollywood/ Media/Govt/UN/world currency markets, etc. etc. What this slimy politician fails to admit is EVERYONE's trying to buy & influence US policy All The Time & Why? Because slimy politicians like him have been whoring out our goverment for years! If anybody pushed Bush into invading Iraq, it was Cheney & his mystery mutinational sponsors like Haliburton (who've cleaned up Billions)! & No! Haliburton isn't controlled by us Jews either! I challenge (who's also not controlled by us Jews) to post this!

    September 19, 2007 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. MN,Mission and KS

    The Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal (also known as the AIPAC espionage scandal) refers to allegations that information regarding United States policy towards Iran was passed to Israel through Lawrence Franklin via staffers affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Franklin, a former Defense Department employee, has pleaded guilty to several espionage-related charges and was sentenced in January 2006 to nearly thirteen years of prison. Two former AIPAC employees have also been indicted.

    September 19, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. T, Portland, OR

    Hey Norfolk,Va:

    Israel receives over half of all of the U.S.' "foreign aid". How can you say that "Even that much is considered too much by an Israeli populace that feels constrained by American interests"?

    I lived in Palestine for over a year, and Israelis were constantly laughing at me, telling me that it didn't do any good for an American like me to try to help Palestinians because Americans will continue to send all the money to Israel. They brag about how much money and military aid the stupid Americans are giving them, and they are confident the gravy train is not going to stop any time soon.

    I was in Palestine when Katrina hit New Orleans. Palestinians were horrified, watching the news coverage and seeing all of the stranded people in New Orleans. They all asked me if I had family or friends there and expressed their concern for their suffering.

    The Israeli reaction? To demand that the U.S. send them "their" 1.7 billion dollars in "disengagement aid" immediately, so that it didn't end up going to those folks in New Orleans instead. Meanwhile, Israeli newspapers were running ads, encouraging Israelis to send money to only help Jewish victims of Katrina.

    Constrained? They are laughing at us.

    September 19, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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