“Moran Said Jews Are Pushing War,” ran the headline on page one. “Apology denies Anti-Semitism” ran the subhead on the story.
Even a glance at that Washington Post, and one knew Jim Moran, bad boy Irish congressman from Alexandria – who has had more than his share of brawls, personal and political – had stepped into it, big time. But while the headline was stark, what Moran said and the context in which he said it, seem far less inflammatory.
Apparently, at an antiwar gathering of 120 folks at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church on March 3, a woman arose, identified herself as Jewish, and noted that while Christian churches opposed to war on Iraq were represented there, her own faith was not. Why?
Moran picked up on that and responded, “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.”
Now about this comment, it is, first, wrong. We are going to war because Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell are convinced we must disarm Baghdad – and regime change is the only way to effect it. Second, according to polls, the Jewish community is only about as hawkish as the rest of the nation, with 59 percent supporting war.
But how was Moran’s statement “anti-Semitic”? According to my Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, an anti-Semite is “one who is hostile to or discriminates against Jews.” Moran says he answered as he did because the lady identified herself as Jewish. Indeed, he went on to say to her, “The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should.”
An exaggeration, sure. But where is the hatred or hostility toward the Jewish people in Moran’s statement? Seeking moral clarity, I waited for the Post’s exegesis of Moran’s remarks.
It did not disappoint. Rather than pour oil on troubled waters, the Post editorial headline screamed, “Blaming the Jews.”
Moran is “unfit for office,” ranted the Post, as he is “perpetuating a stereotype of Jews as a unified bloc steering the world in its own interest and against everyone else’s.” The Post then put Moran’s moral atrocity into a larger historical context:
“Over the centuries anti-Semites have used this libel to distract attention from their own failings and to instigate violence and discrimination against Jews. Mr. Moran’s comment will be used to concentrate the poison of anti-Semitism in many parts of the world where it remains virulent and dangerous.”
Oh, come off it. What Moran said was wrong and insensitive – and he has apologized repeatedly – but from reading the Post, one would think he was over at St. Anne’s passing out the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and recruiting for the Black Hundreds.
As with Trent Lott, it is pile-on time. Moran’s own Democratic leaders, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Tom Daschle, denounced him. Six Democratic colleagues, all Jewish, have urged his defeat. Six rabbis called for his resignation. Sophie Hoffman, president of the Jewish Community Council of Washington, called his words, “reprehensible and anti-Semitic.” Rabbi Jack Moline of Alexandria accused Moran of echoing “the most scandalous rhetoric of the last century.”
“Such remarks about any minority group in America,” roared Moline, “whether African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims or others, are beyond inappropriate in the rhetoric of a member of Congress.”
But hold on. Would it really be outrageous to say that were it not for the Cuban community in Miami, America would be easing the embargo on Cuba? Would it really be anti-Christian to say that were it not for the Christian Right, the GOP would have abandoned its pro-life and anti-cloning positions?
Is it really outrageous, reprehensible and anti-Semitic to say that were it not for the power and influence of the Israeli lobby and Jewish community, Israel would never have gotten $100 billion in foreign aid in the last three decades?
The United States is about to launch a pre-emptive war on a nation that has not attacked us, in accord with a “doctrine” this president never declared while campaigning. This war may lead to what its crazed enthusiasts are calling “World War IV,” the “war on militant Islam.”
The American people have a right to know, before we are dragged into an Armageddon against Islam, who is pushing for this war and what their motives, open or hidden, may be. And it is not Jim Moran who is trying to stifle that debate. It is a power elite who use smears like “anti-Semite” to censor and blacklist anyone who stumbles too close to the truths they seek to conceal.