The congressional race in my backyard

I should have written much earlier about an interesting congressional race in my district, Maryland’s Eighth. It pits incumbent Democrat Chris Van Hollen against Republican challenger Ken Timmerman.

What makes the race stand out is not its competitiveness; Van Hollen is very likely to win. Rather, the race stands out because of the sharp contrast between the two candidates on foreign policy, an issue seldom seen in the 2012 election.

To put it simply, Timmerman has worked tirelessly for decades to support democracy abroad and to support our democratic allies, most notably Israel. Van Hollen, by contrast, has worked tirelessly for decades against democracy abroad, and to make life difficult for Israel and more comfortable for its enemies (and ours).

Think of Timmerman as John Bolton. Think of Van Hollen as a non-Muslim Keith Ellison.

Timmerman has, in fact, been endorsed by John Bolton, along with Michael Ledeen, Andy McCarthy, Frank Gaffney, and former CIA head James Woolsey. And with good reason. For the past fifteen years, Timmerman has served as president and CEO of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran. In that role, he has worked closely with the pro-freedom movement in Iran.

Timmerman has also been the lead investigator for families of 9/11 victims in a civil lawsuit against Iran. Based on evidence he helped uncover and develop, a federal district judge has ruled that Iran “shared responsibility” for the 9/11 terrorist attacks with al Qaeda, and had provided “direct, material support” for the attacks. Simon Wiesenthal said of Timmerman: “I have spent my life tracking down the murderers of yesterday; Mr. Timmerman is tracking down the murderers of tomorrow.”

Timmerman is a passionate supporter of Israel. He has been traveling to Israel since 1982, and in 2006 he covered Israel’s war in Lebanon for Newsmax. Here is a piece he wrote for the Daily Caller about the threat Israel faces.

Van Hollen is the anti-Timmerman. As a congressional staffer in the 1980s, he worked against U.S. efforts to thwart Communism in Central America. These days, Israel is a main target of Van Hollen’s foreign policy leftism, with the Palestine Authority and Iran the main beneficiaries.

For example:

Van Hollen was one of 74 U.S. lawmakers who signed a “J Street” letter demanding that Israel announce its acceptance of a two-state solution, even though no peace negotiations were underway or planned. Van Hollen joined Keith Ellison, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Bobby Rush in signing the letter.

Van Hollen urged the Bush administration to back a ceasefire during the Israel-Lebanon war that would have protected Hezbollah.

Van Hollen voted against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome short-range missile defense system, a program that enjoys broad bi-partisan support.

Val Hollen refused to join a bipartisan coalition calling on the Justice Department to enforce the “Koby Mandell” Act to bring terrorists who killed American overseas to justice.

Van Hollen refused to join congressional colleagues who urged action against the scandalous United Nations report (the “Goldstone Report,” as to which Goldstone, the author, admits he was duped) accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza.

Van Hollen refused to support the Palestine Accountability Act that would ban the State Department from referring to the Palestine Authority as “Palestine” until the PA recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Van Hollen refused to support the Iran Transparency and Accountability Act to require corporations to report to the SEC any activities potentially in violation of U.S. or international sanctionns on Iran.

Given this record, it isn’t surprising to find connections between Van Hollen and Islamist and pro-Iranian groups. He has met with and cooperated with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) supporting, for example, the implementation of Islamic curriculum in Maryland public schools and the barring of federal and state law enforcement from engaging in surveillance on Muslim extremists.

Van Hollen has also met and cooperated with the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). In 2007, he agreed to sponsor a NIAC forum in Congress whose goal was to defeat congressional funding for democracy promotion in Iran. And NIAC has boasted about how Van Hollen helped defeat a measure to block shipments of refined petroleum products to Iran in 2008.

More recently, Van Hollen combined his sympathy for U.S. enemies in the Middle East and U.S. enemies in the Western Hemisphere by refusing to support the “Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act,” despite solid evidence that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has been setting up terrorist cells in tri-border area in South American and building ballistic missile factories in Venezuela.

Is it shocking that Montgomery County Maryland, with its large Jewish population, is represented by an anti-Israel congressman? Not really. Left-liberalism tends to trump support of Israel among large chunks of the Jewish community and certainly among the majority of Jews that live around here. And left-liberalism has veered steadily towards hostility to Israel in recent decades.

Van Hollen, then, is likely to beat Timmerman, even though redistricting (an attempt to defeat Republcan congressman Roscoe Bartlett) has made our district a bit less liberal. Since Van Hollen apparently aspires to run for the Senate, it will be interesting to see what the margin in his race with Timmerman will be.

In any event, I should have urged readers to support Timmerman months ago. Those who are inclined to do so at this late date can do it here.

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