New Documents Reveal the Truth about Van Hollen’s Record on Israel, Iran

Kensington, MD – Nov 3, 2012 – New documents, released as part of a massive federal civil lawsuit, reveal the close relationship between Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-MD) and a pro-Tehran lobbying group that has been working for years to remove U.S. sanctions on Iran.Trita Parsi

The documents show that Van Hollen worked against tough new Iran sanctions in 2006-2008, at the same time he voted in favor of weaker sanctions the lobbying group did not oppose. (Links below).

 “Chris Van Hollen has shown he is a fair weather friend of Israel, who will vote for legislation when an overwhelming majority of the House favors it, but is AWOL when the going gets tough,” said Ken Timmerman, his Republican challenger in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. 

“By contrast, I support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and helping the people of Iran to overthrow the clerical regoime in Tehran.” 

Timmerman is an investigative reporter and war correspondent who has reported from the front lines in the 1982 and 2006 wars in Lebanon and other conflicts.

Last month, Timmerman was given the “Defender of Israel” award by a prominent pro-Israel group. For more than 15 years, he has worked with the pro-freedom movement in Iran as president of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran

When Van Hollen was writing to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in late July 2006, demanding that the U.S. pressure Israel to end its “bombing campaign” against Lebanese civilians, Timmerman shared a bunker in the northern Israel town of Kiryat Shmona with then-opposition leader Bibi Netanyahu, as rockets launched by Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists crashed all around. 

Nationally-prominent rabbis and Jewish community leaders have endorsed Timmerman’s candidacy because of his pro-Israel record.

Timmerman’s expose of Van Hollen’s record on Israel and Iran details:

-       Van Hollen’s support for J Street, a left-wing anti-Zionist group, in calling for the US to pressure Israel to make unilateral negotiating concessions to the Palestinians. When Timmerman challenged his opponent on this at a recent debate in Frederick, Van Hollen doubled down, calling J Street’s position a “sensible policy.”

-       Van Hollen’s support for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

-       Van Hollen’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

-       Van Hollen’s hypocritical votes against funding for the Iron Dome short range missile defense system, even after he voted in favor of authorizing the program.

-       Van Hollen’s successful back room efforts to block tough sanctions on Iran in 2006-2007 at a time they could have done most good, and his support “negotiations without preconditions” with the Iranian regime, a position championed by the pro-Tehran lobby in Washington.

-       Van Hollen’s refusal, after co-sponsoring the Koby Mandell Act in 2004, to join bi-partisan efforts this year to ensure that the Department of Justice carry out its requirement to bring terrorists who murdered U.S. citizens overseas to justice in the United States. 


The newly-released documents reveal that Van Hollen worked against tough Iran sanctions in 2006-2008 when they could have done the most good, in tandem with the pro-Tehran lobby in Washington.

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) met with Rep. Van Hollen shortly after he took office and soon boasted of his support, an internal NIAC memo from April 2003 shows.

NIAC, led by Trita Parsi – a Swedish-Iranian citizen who has lived in the United States for the past decade – sought Van Hollen’s help to stave off sanctions against the brutal dictatorship in Iran. 

In an internal memo to the NIAC board in June 2006, released in the federal lawsuit, Trita Parsi boasted that Van Hollen was helping NIAC “largely behind the scenes” to change U.S. policy toward Iran from confrontation to “direct negotiations.” 

In July 2007, Van Hollen agreed to sponsor a NIAC forum in Congress whose explicit goal was to defeat Congressional funding for “democracy-promotion” in Iran.

“I believe that Van Hollen’s efforts to cut off funding for the pro-freedom movement at a time when it could have been tremendously effective, is not only tragic for Iranians: it could cost the lives of young American servicemen should our two nations engage in direct hostilities,” Timmerman said.

In 2008, Van Hollen took flak from left-wing constituents as well as NIAC over his support for H.Con Res 362, a tough sanctions bill that would have imposed a refined petroleum embargo on Iran.

“I have long supported direct negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, as proposed by Senator Barak Obama,” Van Hollen wrote his constituent.

In a celebratory article entitled “NIAC Beats AIPAC,” NIAC boasted of Van Hollen’s support in defeating H  Con Res 362 - the very measure he had co-sponsored! – after NIAC organized a series of “constituents’ meetings” with Van Hollen staff in an effort to turn up the heat.

“In the end,” NIAC wrote, “the bill was never allowed to be brought up for a vote on the House floor, nor was it even considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, thanks to groups like NIAC working behind the scenes with members of Congress.”

More recently, Van Hollen has also refused to support legislation such as H.R. 3783 (“Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act”), despite overwhelming evidence that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has been setting up terrorist cells in the tri-border area in South America and building ballistic missile factories in Venezuela.

“As I have stated many times on the campaign trail, these appeasement policies of my opponent have been adopted by the Obama administration and are leading us directly to a war with Iran we do not need and can actually prevent,” Timmerman said.

“In contrast to my opponent, I believe we must change our policy so that we support the people of Iran in their quest for freedom from a dictatorship that is openly threatening us and our ally, Israel.”

A brief outline of Timmerman’s strategy for a new Iran policy that will benefit America’s national security interests and help Israel is available online.

Additional documents on NIAC’s lobbying efforts against sanctions on Iran and against U.S. funding for the pro-freedom movement in Iran are available here.

Timmerman’s complete investigative report on Van Hollen’s record on Israel and Iran is now available online.