As Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen Jr. eyes a run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, readers deserve to know the truth about his record on Israel and Iran.
Some readers seem to believe that democracy ends on Election Day, and that afterward citizens give up the right to criticize their elected officials. I disagree.
As an investigative reporter — and as Congressman Van Hollen's Republican opponent in the last election — I closely examined his record.
It is true Mr. Van Hollen was a co-sponsor of legislation to authorize U.S. support for Iron Dome, the missile defense system that helped shield Israeli citizens from terrorist rockets fired from Gaza.
But as anyone who follows Congress will tell you, the real test comes not in feel-good authorization bills that win overwhelming bipartisan support, but when lawmakers are actually appropriating taxpayer dollars.
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2013 contained $650 million in U.S. taxpayer money to fund additional Iron Dome systems for Israel. Yet Mr. Van Hollen twice voted against the bill — even though he now claims, hypocritically, that he is a "friend of Israel."
If Mr. Van Hollen had cared so strongly about Iron Dome as he would have his constituents believe, don't you think he would have mentioned his "regrets" that he twice felt compelled to vote against funding it? But if you read his July 20, 2012, statement explaining his vote, you won't find a single mention of Iron Dome.
And this is barely a footnote in Mr. Van Hollen's anti-Israel record, which includes his refusal to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, his persistent support for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the pro-Tehran lobby, and his support for the J Street agenda demanding that Israel make unilateral negotiating concessions to the Palestinians.
Given his positions, describing Rep. Van Hollen as a "fair weather friend" of Israel is a charitable way of putting it indeed.
Ken Timmerman, Kensington
The writer was the 2012 Republican nominee to represent Maryland's 8th Congressional District.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun