Thursday, September 27, 2007

AIPAC Bullies Moran (Updated below)

Today's Washington Post:

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA.) had what might be characterized as a "come to Moses" meeting with a handful of Jewish constituents angered by his recent assertion that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pushed the United States into war in Iraq.

Six members of AIPAC, five of whom are Moran's constituents, aired their grievances during a private meeting in the congressman's Capitol Hill office last Thursday. The essence of their message, as one participant summarized, was: "Cut it out, Jim."

The participant said the group explained to Moran -- a repeat offender in the eyes of the Jewish community -- that his comments were "false and seriously offensive" and told him they hoped he would "check his facts better before he talks" in the future.

That source and another participant who spoke about the meeting on the condition of anonymity said they're now waiting to see how Moran will respond and whether he will seek to mend fences with constituents he offended. Both used the expression, "The ball's in his court."
As to whether that means the group hopes to get an apology or a clarification from the congressman, one of the sources said, "I have no expectations on this." A third source familiar with the meeting said Moran neither apologized nor offered to retract his comments about the pro-Israel lobby.

The meeting was called in response to Moran's explosive comments in an interview with Tikkun magazine in which he said AIPAC "has pushed this war from the beginning...They are so well organized, and their members are extraordinarily powerful -- most of them are quite wealthy -- they have been able to exert power."

Moran's Jewish Democratic colleagues, led by influential Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), denounced the Virginia lawmaker in an angry letter last week, saying, "The idea that the war in Iraq began because of the influence of Jewish Americans is factually incorrect and unfortunately fits the anti-Semitic stereotypes some have used historically against Jews."

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer called Moran's comments "inaccurate, wrong and unfortunate." And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi piled on, saying, "I disagree and reject Congressman Moran's characterization of AIPAC. AIPAC did not lead us into this disastrous war in Iraq. President Bush and Vice President Cheney did."

Then came the private face-to-face in Moran's office last week. The meeting was called by AIPAC member Jerome Chapman, an attorney with Arnold & Porter who has lobbied Moran for years on issues dear to AIPAC.

Chapman, who is also a constituent of Moran's, said, "It wasn't the first time he has made remarks in this vain. What I'm hoping is it's the last time." (He was alluding, of course, to Moran's other infamous comment, in 2003, when the congressman said, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.")

Chapman was relieved this week to see Moran voting with AIPAC on a bill to impose tough sanctions against Iran. He even sent a thank-you email to Moran's chief of staff saying, "Please let Jim know that I thank him for the vote."

The vote on Iran sanctions was one thing, an apology on his inexplicable belief that AIPAC lobbied for the war in Iraq may be quite another.

Moran spokesman Austin Durrer said, "The Congressman met with local AIPAC leaders for two hours last week and appreciated hearing their concerns. His opinion still differs from theirs but the lines of communication will remain open to discuss the underlying issues raised in the Tikkun article."


So, this article says that Congressman Jim Moran has an "inexplicable belief that AIPAC lobbied for the war in Iraq" and that said belief is "false and seriously offensive" and that furthermore, to say such a thing would be "factually incorrect".

Leaving aside the fact that, in regards to AIPAC and Iraq, AIPAC doth protest too much, does anyone else see the blatant irony in the fact that a member of Congress is at once berated for alleging that AIPAC lobbied for the war in Iraq while being praised for voting "with AIPAC" in favor of a bill to "impose tough sanctions on Iran"? The news article doesn't identify the bill in question, but I wonder if it wasn't a House version of this one.

Ah, it looks like this is the bill in question.

In any event, when the U.S. goes to war with Iran, will AIPAC try to bamboozle away its pressure for that war, too?

Update: my reading of this link at AIPAC's webpage is that AIPAC was in favor of the Senate bill, too.

The AIPAC apologists mentioned in the above news article appear to be claiming that, in addition to not forcing the Iraq war down America's throat, that AIPAC itself isn't all that influential and doesn't really have an agenda. That the AIPAC rep would then gush in support of Moran's support for the sanctions measure would seem to counter that innocuous conclusion.

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