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. reza santorini, chicago, IL

    such stupid statements. AIPAC did not push nor support the war. If I recall they would prefer getting rid of Iran, if anything. Most of all they'd like to be left alone. Since its inception their neighbors have sought to destroy the place, in spite of it having UN backing. Blaming Israel is like blaming Jews for all the hate they received in Europe years ago. This is not one come nobody is screaming about the rocket attacks from Gaza. How about the concept of a nation electing a party because they promise to remove a country from this earth? How about the anti-America propaganda from the Islamic terror factor. Come on...why aren't the Islamic countries helping Gaza. This man is being used and letting it happen. Hate the bad Jews.

    September 19, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. dave, south jersey

    This is absolutely ludicrous. Steny Hoyer should be stripped of his leadership position.

    September 19, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. reza santorini, chicago, IL

    Tina, you say "These people are so greedy – they are all in it for the oil, for power, it has nothing to do with terrorism" Yes, Israel has taken over all the oil territory of the countries around them. Greedy, oh yes. Dork, you live in Chicago. Has Chicago ever had a Jewish mayor? Do they have a name that pops up everytime something anti-Jewish is said. Who is the head of the Church in this area. Name a Black Leader. Name leaders in general. They are part of the culture here...and they are not usually involved in riots, name calling or fights. So shut up and don't buy their wares or from their business. If you don't get along with your husbands family, one can easily see why.

    September 19, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Ron, Haifa IL

    1. concerning some of the comments here, I'd say they prove We don't control all the media. not yet anyway.

    2. Sheesh... You nail a guy to a piece of wood and 2000 years later people still hold a grudge. get over it already.

    September 19, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. Matt, Brooklyn, NY

    It is infuriating to me how such sway is held over politicians who would so much as dare criticize the role of AIPAC. The threat looms large- perhaps the worst punishment being termed an "anti-semite". This is entirely unfair. Fortunately, as these posts are evidence, free speech exists and the type of intimidation practiced on our politicians isn't all-powerful.

    September 19, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. LB, Franklin Lakes, NJ

    Apparently this topic has released a "surge" of closet anti-semites as I knew it would.

    Obviously, most of you are ignorant of the history of Israel. It's not only the Holocaust, it's 2000 years of persecution. Israel is surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs (and Iranians) who would be happy to see the Jews wiped off the face of the earth. Israel was created so the Jews don't have to put up with all the crap they've been putting up with all those years. And the world can't stand it.

    There is condemnation and boycotts of Israel but it's funny that countries like Sudan, Cambodia and Rwanda can get away with genocide and the world does blink twice.

    Jews (and Christians for that matter) don't walk into pizza places and discos and blow themselves up killing innocent people.

    The US supports Israel because it's a democratic country in a sea of 12th dictatorships and monarchies. And because it's close to the oil.

    Does AIPAC exert influence on the US government? Of course they do. Just like any other PAC. But wait. It's the Jews. They shouldn't have so much influence. They run the government, banks, commerce, THE WHOLE WORLD.

    Was AIPAC in favor of invading Iraq? Probably but then so was the majority of the American people.

    Jews have been instrumental in civil rights, fair labor practices and charities.

    I personally don't like what's going on in Israel but it take two to tango. Terrorist Hamas and the corrupt Palestinian authority are responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people a whole lot more than the Jews.

    And to all you people who have used this issue to spout your ignorance, find out the facts before you babble.

    September 19, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. mike bernstien boca raton, fl

    100% if Moran on this one because its a fact

    September 19, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Hiding behind charges of "anti-Semitism" is getting old when it comes to addressing the overdue influence of this lobby on U.S. policy, akin to playing the race card. Israel owes its existence to the U.S. and depends on us for its continued defiance of UN Resolution 242, which is a prime fuel for ongoing Middle East discord and helped set the stage for 9-11. The prevalence of Jewish surnames in government and business makes clear that this is not a helpless, trod-upon minority but a major director of the U.S. economy and power structure now profiting wildly from the Iraq war. Moran told the obvious truth and gets labelled anti-Semetic....if someone calls Hillary down does that make them a misogynist?

    September 19, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Jonathan, NY, NY

    This congressman is using an age old tactic which is deeply rooted in antisemitism. When in doubt, why not blame the Jews?

    September 19, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. Zack, Los Angeles, CA

    I find it sad that so many Americans have NO CLUE what is going on in the middle east. Israel is a toothpick on a pizza. The pizza are muslim countries that have very little wealth and very high amounts of hate and oppression towards wester societies (AMERICA and EUROPE). The toothpick (Israel) is less than 1% of the middle east and has high wealth and high liberalism. Isreal is hated because the oppression islamic fundamentalist regimes need a scapegoat and someone to deflect there oppression and poverty onto, and once again it's the jewish state. Can you blame Israel for being armed to the hilt? I don't. They are not threatening anyone. Iran is threatening. Please people, learn a little before speaking. Any yes, this guy is an idiot. AIPAC is only a factor in the Iraq war. Ofcourse, scapegoating jews is what the world does, and apparently many americans are too uneducated and small sighted to see the hate that 99% of the middle east has towards them.

    September 19, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. J Houston TX

    This is disgusting. 70% of the public backs the initiative to go to war. They get war weary. 30% still support the war according to polls. Then we start scapegoating parties, races, nations, anything in our way rather than blaming ourselves?

    And the racism...seriously with that much white hair you would think he'd have grown up by now.

    September 19, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. DH Saginaw, MI

    Ok Obama, tell us the truth.

    Tell us about the billions wasted off budget. Tell us about the true deficit. Tell us why Democrats won't even discuss Social Security and Medicare and the huge tax increases our children face . Tell us that tax revenues are at record highs and that tax cuts work. Tell us that spending is the real reason behind deficits.

    Tell the Iowa farmers that the farm bill is a colossul waste of billions of dollars on unrelated pork. Tell us why the highway bill will fund a museum in Las Vegas but not repair bridges.

    Yeah right Obama, tell us the truth. But, I'll guess your version of truth will be alot different from mine!

    September 19, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  13. Charles Jenks, Deerfield, MA

    Rep. Moran is to be commended for speaking truth to power, namely the powerful Zionist lobby AIPAC.

    The report misstates the issue when – in the headline – it says he is taking heat for comments on the "Jewish Lobby." Rather, it was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee he was taking on. He wasn't taking on Jews – heck, he was writing in Tikkun, which is a Jewish magazine, as noted, and a leading voice in the interfaith peace movement.

    September 19, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. Miriam, Austin, TX

    It's not anti-Semitic to be anti-AIPAC or any other lobbying group. However, it is anti-Semitic to do as so many comments have done (and as Moran explicitly did NOT do) to leap from AIPAC to old chestnuts like the US is fighting Israel, Israel is the 51st state, and Jews control the government and determine its policy. (over 70% of Jews voted Democrat in the last election, by the way, so much for Jewish control!).

    September 19, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Andrew M., Orange County, CA

    Attention conspiracy believers:

    Why no uproar over the incredible influence the oil or pharma lobbies have?

    These and other similar corporate interest groups exert FAR MORE influence with far more impact to the average American, yet no one seems to worked up about them?

    That's why the rest of us believe that you're biased, because you single out a specific group that really doesn't even rank in the real world of beltway influence pending.

    September 19, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. Paul Krolowitz Vestal NY

    Theirs no doubt the Jewish activist group AIPAC, supported the invasion of Iraq. The group's primary concearn is the well being of Isreal. AIPAC is free to push for what ever they want. The problem is our incumbent politicians, whom are afraid to standup to anyone who produces money. AIPAC will spend money freely against any incumbent politician who does not support AIPAC's positions. As a result no one speaks against them for fear of a backlash such as this. AIPAC scares the daylights out of incumbent Republicans and Democrats alike. As we all know the problem is not AIPAC, the problem is an incumbent government fearful to take any position which may endanger it's re-election. I personally applaud Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, for speaking up.

    September 19, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. Jeannie, Sacramento, CA

    What's all the fuss about? So Israel wants to sink Iraq into the desert - that's an undeniable fact, so my question is: What's wrong with it and talking about it?

    September 19, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. George,Seattle,WA

    It is good to see that the folks from CAMERA are here. CAMERA.ORG is an organization dedicated to ensuring that American media is roundly punished for saying anything truthful about the influence of right wing Israeli groups in our politics.

    AIPAC is a symptom of the Israeli-defense complex in the US. We send billions to "defenseless" Israel for weapons, they buy weapons from our defense industry, and the defense industry spends money to reelect congresspeople who vote to send billions to "defenseless" Israel.

    It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. Israel is just a handy excuse to keep the cycle going, and war is a handy way of ridding the customer of excess inventory.

    If you dispute the influence of AIPAC in the media, look at Wolf Blitzer's previous job. He was a paid lobbiest for AIPAC, and is now a top correspondent at CNN. When I first heard this, I thought that it was just some antisemetic ranting but it is in fact true.

    AIPAC does not control everything in politics, but to deny that it is incredibly influential is just as delusional as asserting that we are winning the Iraq war.

    September 19, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  19. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    AIPAC is not a lobby for Israel as originally intended....a Jewish homeland...but what Israel has become....a Zionist provocateur in the Middle East. Many Orthodox Jews say exactly that, and even held a huge rally in New York to make their point clearly visible. So are they "anti-Semitic" or just people honoring the core of their Jewish faith?

    September 19, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. J. Reed, NY, NY

    Moran is a patriotic American! This is an issue that we need to be talking about as a country.

    September 19, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. EK, Panama City, Panama

    David B. from Northern VA: your reaction is typical of all of you who are quick to label as "anti-semitic" anyone whose opinions happen to differ from Jewish organizations, people, or the State of Israel.

    I, like most Americans, oppose the war in Iraq, and don´t like to be called "anti-American" for doing so. Get it?

    September 19, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. GEORGE, Jersey City, NJ

    Finally, someone with the guts to tell the truth. It is about time and I command him for it. America needs to take back it's foreign policy from interest groups such as AIPAC and others.

    September 19, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. Mike M, Alexandria VA

    Because the AIPAC and others retort with accusations of antisemitism should not mean the rest of use should turn a blind eye to what is possible in today's world. The media reports what it wants to and politicians are like most people, opportunists.

    September 19, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  24. Fred, The Hague, Netherlands

    Don't give me that:
    "Oh, it's the old canard of Jewish power" (aktually no, zionist power):
    it looks like duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck but hey, don't dare calling it a duck. That is anti-semitic! Puh-leeze...

    September 19, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  25. Matt, Chicago

    I've read most of the comments but still no one has explained how or why AIPAC would want to push the US to war. They seem to be content to just shout out that the US government is in the hands of AIPAC, case closed.

    I am shocked and a little disheartened with the number of people expressing such a viewpoint on this web site.

    One thing I don't understand about the entire conspiracy theory: Aren't there limits to how much one lobby can give a particular candidate? Therefore, how influential can they really be? Maybe I'm ignorant.

    September 19, 2007 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11