Two Washington-area Democrats are seeking this year’s nomination to succeed Barbara Mikulski and become Maryland’s junior member in the Senate. Only one deserves the support of the pro-Israel Jewish community — Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Van Hollen, of the 8th congressional district, possesses a consistent record of support for the security of the State of Israel and opposition to its enemies. He understands that Israel is an important U.S. ally and that, as the only longstanding democracy in the region, it embodies values that we as a nation should embrace. By contrast, his opponent, Rep. Donna Edwards, of the 4th congressional district, conspicuously has declined to show such support.
Although both candidates ultimately supported the Obama administration’s agreement with Iran, Van Hollen consistently has pressed for tougher sanctions against that country, co-sponsoring a bill to impose increased sanctions in July 2013. That bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 400-20. Edwards voted against it.
Van Hollen has co-sponsored or otherwise supported legislation condemning Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis on multiple occasions; Edwards, with few exceptions, has refused to sign on to those bills.
Van Hollen voted to condemn the notorious “Goldstone Report,” issued by the United Nations and widely criticized for its one-sided critique of Israel’s conduct in the 2009 Gaza conflict. Edwards voted no.
In addition, a 2015 letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to condemn violence against Israel was signed by Van Hollen and 368 other House members. Edwards was not among them.
Those examples are not atypical. Repeatedly, measures supportive of Israel have passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, yet Edwards either opposed or abstained. The chasm between the two candidates when it comes to Israel is undeniable.
The pro-Israel community is large and diverse. We do not always agree among ourselves, much less with our representatives. One of the authors of this article supported the Iran deal; the other did not.
Nonetheless, we both agree that, for Maryland voters who care about Israel and continuing U.S. support for the Jewish state, the choice is clear: Time after time, Chris Van Hollen has stood with Israel and the Jewish community; Donna Edwards has not.
Behnam Dayanim and Ronald Glancz are Washington-area attorneys who are involved in local Jewish community organizations.