Magazine article Insight on the News

Moran Can't Keep His Tongue Tied: There Is Growing Alarm about Rep. Jim Moran's Habit of Uttering Offensive Statements about Jews and Israel, Apologizing for His Remarks, Then Doing It All over Again. (the Nation: Anti-Semitism)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Moran Can't Keep His Tongue Tied: There Is Growing Alarm about Rep. Jim Moran's Habit of Uttering Offensive Statements about Jews and Israel, Apologizing for His Remarks, Then Doing It All over Again. (the Nation: Anti-Semitism)

Article excerpt

Jim Moran is sorry. Not for what he said, really, but for the way it came out. As he put it, "I've got to be more careful in the future to not say things I don't believe."

After a series of statements that were insulting and offensive to Jews and that attacked Israel, this seven-term Democratic congressman from the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington managed to top them all. At a March antiwar rally in Reston, Va., he blamed Jews for the impending war with Iraq. As reported by The Connection newspapers of Northern Virginia, Moran said that "if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. 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."

After other press outlets picked up these remarks, Moran attempted to backpedal, saying he was sorry if he "unintentionally offended with my insensitive remarks." In a still subsequent apology, he said he "should not have singled out the Jewish community" and regretted "giving any impression that its members are somehow responsible for the course of action being pursued by the administration." In fact, Moran said, he couldn't be anti-Semitic because his daughter is marrying a Jew and in the process of converting to Judaism.

That was not enough for six rabbis in Northern Virginia, who issued a statement calling on Moran to resign. "We have reached the end of our patience with Congressman Jim Moran and his treatment of the Jewish community and its concerns," the statement read. "[F]rom the floor of the House of Representatives to public meetings with various constituent groups, Congressman Moran has regularly singled out the Jewish community and its historical support for the state of Israel for criticism that echoes the most scandalous rhetoric of the last century."

Jack Moline, the rabbi at the Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, part of Moran's district, tells INSIGHT that the congressman's actions and rhetoric have gone too far. "I find most of his politics to be parallel with mine, but this is about his suitability for office," Moline says. As for Moran's apology, Moline says it's part of an all-too-familiar pattern. "He apologizes and then does it again," Moline laments. "He doesn't learn from his mistakes; only apologizes for them." In addition to Moran's offensive comments, Moline also is troubled by the congressman's inappropriate behavior, such as "the shoving match on the floor of the House" in 1995, in which Moran assaulted Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), the highly decorated Vietnam war hero.

Dan Drummond, Moran's spokesman, declined to comment on behalf of his boss and did not respond to any of INSIGHT'S questions by press time.

Moran's embarrassing remarks, temper tantrums, association with individuals allegedly sympathetic to terrorism, and taking of questionable loans from lobbyists may leave him politically vulnerable in 2004, even though he represents a safe Democratic district. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has removed Moran from his Democratic leadership post, and six Democrats in the House of Representatives--Henry Waxman and Tom Lantos of California, Martin Frost of Texas, Sander Levin of Michigan, Nita Lowey of New York and Ben Cardin of Maryland--have written to Pelosi saying they will not support him if he runs for Congress in 2004. Virginia state Sen. Leslie Byrne and Fairfax County (Va.) Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kate Hanley have told local newspapers they will consider challenging him in the Democratic primary in 2004.

And don't rule out a strong Republican challenge should Moran make it through the primary, says Mike Lane, chairman of the Republican Party in Moran's 8th Congressional District. Lane notes that with just $60,000 in campaign funds Moran's 2002 GOP challenger, Scott Tate, managed to hold him to 59. …

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