- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Jewish leaders in Northern Virginia are calling on U.S. Rep. James P. Moran to resign as a result of comments he made last week questioning the influence of the Jewish community in American politics.
"We have reached the end of our patience with Congressman Jim Moran and his treatment of the Jewish community and its concerns," said Rabbi Jack Moline, one of six rabbis in Northern Virginia who have called for Mr. Moran's resignation.
"It's the same thing as when Sen. [Trent] Lott spoke of the value of segregationist politics," said Mr. Moline. Criticism of the comments led Senator Lott to resign from his position as majority leader.
During a constituent forum at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Reston on March 3, Mr. Moran said that war with Iraq was a forgone conclusion because the Jewish leaders were pressing for it.
"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq we would not be doing this," the Reston Connection newspaper reported him saying. "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."
Late yesterday afternoon, Mr. Moran, Alexandria Democrat, said in a phone interview that he would not resign, but that he was sorry if his comments were offensive.
"I made some insensitive remarks that I deeply regret," Mr. Moran said. "I apologize for any pain these remarks have caused to members of the Jewish faith and any other individuals."
He continued: "I don't plan on resigning, but I do not criticize them for saying that I should."
Mr. Moran said that his comments were misunderstood, and that he needs to learn in the future to be selective with the words he uses when he gets angry. The town hall meeting was filled with approximately 120 people who were upset he was not doing more to speak out against the impending war with Iraq, he said.
"I've got to be more careful in the future to not say things I don't believe," said Mr. Moran.
Mr. Moline represents a lose group of Northern Virginia rabbis. He said they have had conversations in the past and complaints from members of their congregations that led them to speak out now.
He said he has spoken with Mr. Moran several times since the comments were first reported last week. During yesterday's conversation, the seven-term lawmaker seemed both "angry at the big deal" being made and "contrite that he had said it," but that the apology was not enough, Mr. Moline said.
"We believe that such remarks about any minority group in American, whether it be African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims or others, are beyond appropriate in the rhetoric of a member of Congress," he said.
Other Jewish leaders would not go so far as to call for Mr. Moran's resignation, but said they found his remarks troubling.
"I am in confusion as to how a member of Congress could make such venomous statements about the Jewish community," said Ronald Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington. "I think he has to take some time and do some soul searching to see he really represents the spirit of his constituents."
Mr. Moran was first elected in 1988. He won re-election in November with 60 percent of the vote.
Lawrence Framme III, chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, said he was "surprised" when he first heard of Mr. Moran's comments, but he was satisfied with the apology.
"I think his future actions will reflect that apology," Mr. Framme said. "Jim's apology made it clear that what he said was not what he believed. It was one of those moments when he said the wrong thing."

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