Congressman: Jewish leadership support Iraq War
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by Jeff Blankfort
On March 3rd, Congressman Jim Moran, a Democrat from West Virginia,
infuriated the Jewish establishment when he told an antiwar forum that
QUOTE "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community
for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this."
Moran also said that Jewish community leaders "are influential enough"
to forestall a war.
According to the polls, 59% of American Jews support the war, a figure
fairly consistent with the rest of the population.
As he expressed it later, he was referring mainly to the community
Following the forum, Moran repeatedly offered apologies, but some
national Jewish leaders have refused to accept them.
On Friday, after six Jewish colleagues in the House urged him to make
this term his last, and under pressure from Senate Minority Leader Tom
Daschle and House Whip, San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi, Moran
relinquished his regional whip position in the House Democratic
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who moonlights as an Israel
lobbyist, called Moran's remarks "shocking. They are wrong, and they
should not have been said."
Outside of Congress, however, he had his defenders.
The conservative London Economist pointed out that QUOTE
"Whatever his faults, Mr. Moran is not alone in raising suspicions
about the fact that so many hawks in the Bush administration,
including the deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz and the head
of the Pentagon's defense-policy board, Richard Perle, happen to be
"Gradually people from the left and right," it went on, "are beginning
to allege in public what some moderates whisper privately: that war
against Iraq has been promoted by a cabal of Jewish hardliners who are
more concerned with protecting Israel than they are with advancing
America's national interest. END QUOTE.
That's from the London Economist.
There is no doubt, writes Sam Smith in the online Progressive Review -
that if one considers the 'Jewish community' as the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee and various large Jewish campaign
contributors - that Rep. Moran was quite correct in saying that they
could have a significant effect on the course of our policy in the
For example, he notes it took only three days for them to have a
significant effect on the course of Rep. Moran's career, getting his
cowardly colleagues to force him out of his House leadership position.
Earlier, he points out, they helped to have a similar effect on Rep
Cynthia McKinney, who went down to defeat thanks in part to an influx
of pro-Israel money.
To back up his contention, Smith cites an article by the Washington
Post's White House correspondent, Dana Milbank, last November:
Here's what Milbank wrote:
"A group of U.S. political consultants has sent pro-Israel leaders a
memo urging them to keep quiet while the Bush administration pursues a
possible war with Iraq.
"The six-page memo was sent by the Israel Project, a group funded by
American Jewish organizations and individual donors.
"Its authors said the main audience was American Jewish leaders, but
much of the memo's language is directed toward Israelis. The memo
reflects a concern that involvement by Israel in a U.S.-Iraq
confrontation could hurt Israel's standing in American public opinion
and undermine international support for a hard line against Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein . . .
"The Iraq memo was issued in the past few weeks and labeled
'confidential property of the Israel Project,' which is led by
Democratic consultant Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi with help from
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Republican pollsters Neil
Newhouse and Frank Luntz.
"Several of the consultants have advised Israeli politicians, and the
group aired a pro-Israel ad earlier this year.
In the memo, titled 'Talking About Iraq.' they wrote QUOTE' If your
goal is regime change, you must be much more careful with your
language because of the potential backlash.'
"It added: 'You do not want Americans to believe that the war on Iraq
is being waged to protect Israel rather than to protect America.'
This is not the first time this strategy has been tried. For example,
in January 1991, David Rogers of the Wall Street Journal wrote:
"When Congress debated going to war with Iraq, the pro-Israel lobby
stayed in the background - but not out of the fight.
"Leaders of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee now
acknowledge it worked in tandem with the Bush administration to win
passage of a resolution authorizing the president to commit U.S.
troops to combat.
"The behind-the-scenes campaign avoided Aipac's customary high profile
in the Capitol and relied instead on activists-calling sometimes from
Israel itself-to contact lawmakers and build on public endorsements by
major Jewish organizations.
"The debate revealed a deep ambivalence among Jewish lawmakers over
what course to follow, pitting their generally liberal instincts
against their support of Israel.
"Friends and families were divided. And even as some pro-Israel
advocates urged a more aggressive stance, there was concern that the
lobby risked damaging Israel's longer-term interests if the issue
became too identified with Jewish or pro-Israel polities.
That was from the Wall Street Journal in December. 1991. A similar
story appeared at the time in the Washington Jewish Week.
As if in a total replay of the first Gulf War, the New York Jewish
weekly, Forward, reported last October 11th, American Jewish
Committee's David Harris, warned other Jewish leaders that "We should
not be perceived as being out in front of the administration" in
supporting the war."
"A stronger Israel is very much embedded in the rationale for war,"
wrote Richard Stengel, a columnist for Time magazine's online edition.
"It is a part of the argument that dare not speak its name, a fantasy
quietly cherished by the neoconservative faction in the Bush
administration and by many leaders of the American Jewish community."
Meanwhile, Israel is looking for big things from the war. Yesterday's
Arizona Daily Star Carried an interview with Raanan Gissin, a well-
known spokesman and senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
"The terror attacks on Sept. 11 and extreme turmoil in the Middle East
point to one thing," said Gissin, - "World War III.
"Weve been fighting a war for the past 18 months, which is the
harbinger of World War III," added. The world is going to fight,
whether they like it or not.
Gissin called the war a clash between the civilized and uncivilized
"Its a clash between the forces of evil, as (President Bush) so neatly
described it, and the forces of life."
Gissin may be right but he has the sides mixed up. Following the
Murder of Rachel Corrie, the Israeli army killed 13 more Palestinians
including an infant and two teenagers.
And in case, you're still doubtful about what the coming war is about,
here's a Q and A from an exclusive interview in Time magazine's
European edition with former Israeli chief of staff and current
defense minister Shaul Mofaz that will be out next week. was asked:
When he was asked, " What changes do you think a war will bring in the
Middle East?, Mofaz replied,
"It's a clear message to Iraq, Iran and Libya, and other states that
don't have peace treaties with us, that non-conventional capabilities
and support for terror are things the U.S. won't allow."
So, there's the message. This war is about something more than oil.