I was disturbed by a recent letter to the editor questioning Rep. Chris Van Hollen's support for Israel ("Van Hollen is not a true friend to Israel," Nov. 28). I am a Jewish constituent of the congressman who has followed his career for many years. Mr. Van Hollen's diligence and support of causes close to my heart, including promoting the important U.S. strategic military alliance with Israel, has convinced me that he is indeed a friend of Israel.
During the recent election campaign, I was present at a number of events at which Mr. Van Hollen's opponents mischaracterized him as an enemy of Israel. Now that the campaign is over the anti-Van Hollen diatribes must end.
Congress has passed numerous bills in support of Israel, and Mr. Hollen's name is on them. Your letter writer alleges Mr. Van Hollen did not support U.S. funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, when in fact the record shows that Mr. Van Hollen supported Iron Dome from the very beginning, even when the program had many doubters. He has also supported Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas' missile attacks.
The letter's author disingenuously selects two votes on which Mr. Van Hollen has been accused of voting against the Iron Dome. But those votes were not about Iron Dome; rather, they involved much broader issues relating to the Department of Defense.
The Iron Dome language was buried deep inside the bill, and I am fairly confident that even some members of the House Armed Services Committee were unaware of the provision. Moreover, Mr. Van Hollen issued a statement immediately after the votes that he opposed the legislation for reasons totally unrelated to Iron Dome.
I have also watched as Mr. Van Hollen defended and advocated for the release of Alan Gross, who still sits in a Cuban prison today because he put his life on the line to help Jews in Cuba.
The election campaign is over. The ugly and unfounded attacks on my congressman must stop. I refuse to remain silent and watch Mr. Van Hollen be vilified in the press by misinformed and malicious people.
Bob Levi, Silver SpringCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun