Pro-Israel stalwart Harman quitting Congress


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Jane Harman, a pro-Israel stalwart with close ties to the U.S. intelligence community, is quitting Congress.

Harman (D-Calif.) reportedly is leaving to run the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, a preeminent foreign policy think tank. She is replacing Lee Hamilton, also a prominent former Democratic congressman.

Harman, known for her ties with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in 2009 was embroiled in the controversy over espionage-related charges against two former AIPAC staffers.

Intelligence officials leaked to Congressional Quarterly a wiretapped conversation from 2006 that conveyed the impression that Harman told an Israeli agent that she would intervene on behalf of the accused staffers.

Harman fiercely denied the charges and demanded the release of the full conversation. Justice Department officials noted that she was not under any investigation.

Some questioned the timing of the leaks — just before the government dropped charges against the two former AIPAC staffers — as a last-ditch bid by intelligence agencies to keep the case alive.

Harman at the time was the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. After Democrats recaptured the House that year, she had hoped to become its chairwoman, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi bumped her, citing the committee’s rotation policy.

In the last election, Harman trounced a primary challenge from Marcy Winograd, a Jewish candidate who backs a binational Israel-Palestinian state.

Harman’s husband, Sidney, recently purchased Newsweek.

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