The Honorable James P. Moran
U.S. House of Representatives
2239 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20215
Dear Congressman Moran:
I read with great interest your comments reported in The Washington Post holding "the Jewish community" responsible for "this war with Iraq." You admit telling a forum on March 3rd, "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."
You believe that your comments, while insensitive, were not anti-Semitic.
I served in the Congress for nine years. I am very proud of that service. I also served as Mayor of New York City for 12 years and am very proud of that service. I am Jewish and proud of my religious and ethnic traditions. In neither of my elections was I elected or opposed because of my religion and in neither did Jews comprise a majority of the voters. Further, all of the polls in my reelection campaigns for mayor showed that I did better among Italian and Irish Catholics than among Jewish voters. Among the former, I received 81 percent of their vote; among the latter, 73 percent. I mention these facts because I want to convey that, while of course, there is some anti-Semitism in this country, it is very limited, and people of good will take great pride in our having trounced the devils of anti-Semitism and racism. So, for you to reintroduce, particularly as a member of Congress, anti-Semitism in your appeals to your constituency, is extremely troubling and appalling.
How can you say that your comments were simply insensitive, but not anti-Semitic? Your language is really another version of the blood libel. After World War I, the Germans, pre- and post- Nazism, blamed the Jews for their defeat. There was no basis for that allegation, but the German public was receptive.
You seek to blame the Jews for the on-coming war that President Bush has said must be waged against Iraq if it does not fulfill the obligations of the ceasefire it entered into in 1991 requiring it to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's failure to carry out these obligations were cited in Resolution 1441, which was unanimously adopted by the 15 members of the Security Council. As you also know, a huge majority of both Houses of Congress authorized the President to determine when military force should be used against Iraq to compel its destruction of weapons of mass destruction. Yet, you blame the Jews for the impending war.
In today's New York Times, a poll shows that "55 percent of respondents.would support an American invasion of Iraq, even if it was in defiance of a vote of the Security Council." The Washington Post article mentions "A January poll commissioned by the American Jewish Committee found that 59 percent of American Jews supported war against Iraq, a percentage not appreciably different from that of Americans generally."
As you undoubtedly know, there are many Jews who have participated in anti-war demonstrations around the country for which they are libeled by some as unpatriotic. Jews, like everyone else, have a right to their opinions, individually and collectively. What your comments, and I suspect your intent, convey is that if there are casualties, as there surely will be in any war, "blame the Jews."
I support the war, if the President believes that is the only way left to best protect America and disarm Iraq. I do not think it is unpatriotic to be on the other side of the issue. This is a judgment call. However, for you to say, in effect, that the actions of President Bush and his Cabinet, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, are controlled by the Jewish community is an outrage. Not one of those individuals is Jewish; nor is British Prime Minister Tony Blair; nor is Prime Minister Aznar of Spain. To accuse these leaders of taking orders from a segment of their communities -- Jews -- who are divided on the issue like all Americans, is simply seeking to employ an ancient anti-Semitic technique. In earlier times, it was the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The Washington Post article indicates that you have had personal financial problems and been the subject of ethics complaints, suggesting that may be in part responsible for your outburst. We know that when an equally vile racial statement was made by Senator Trent Lott, he was compelled to resign as Majority Leader. You hold no such position of leadership, so perhaps you should resign from the Congress itself.
All the best.
Edward I. Koch