community matters

Angela Alsobrooks distances herself from Van Hollen on Israel policy

The Maryland Senate candidate told Jewish community members that she has ‘the endorsement of 190 people across the state, and I don’t agree on every single issue with any of the 190 of them'

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Angela Alsobrooks, Democrat running for U.S. Senate in Maryland, claps with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., as local officials speak during her "All in for Angela" campaign event in Silver Spring, Md., on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

Speaking to members of the Washington, D.C.-area Jewish community last week, Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County executive running for a Senate seat in Maryland, sought to create some distance between herself and the state’s soon-to-be senior senator, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), on Israel policy.

Van Hollen, who has endorsed Alsobrooks’ Senate run and is featured in a new campaign ad she released this week, has emerged as a leading critic of Israel’s operations in Gaza, and has called to suspend U.S. arms transfers to Israel.

“I am grateful for all of the folks that have come out to support me — Sen. Van Hollen, for example, endorsed me before Oct. 7 — but you should know that I also have the endorsement of 190 people across the state, and I don’t agree on every single issue with any of the 190 of them,” she said at an event organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, in response to an audience question about whether she’d align with Van Hollen on Israel issues.

She continued, “so when people ask me, ‘Who will you be? Will you be Ben Cardin or Sen. Van Hollen or Steny Hoyer?’ I think it’s fair to say I’ll be Angela Alsobrooks. I do have my own views… my own impressions and feelings and values, derived from my own experiences.”

Cardin and Hoyer have been stalwart supporters of the Jewish state.

More broadly, Alsobrooks separated herself from the “extremes” of her party who’ve been most outspoken against Israel, describing them as “anti-almost everything” and “more interested in talking about [problems] than in fixing” them.

“I am a balanced person,” she added. “I think it is the job of a leader to find a way to engage people and to bring people closer together, not to divide. And that is no part of my leadership style.”

Addressing the ongoing war in Gaza, Alsobrooks said the U.S. and Israel share an interest in “removing the threat of Hamas from the world,” in ensuring Israel’s security and in freeing the hostages.

Alsobrooks praised President Joe Biden’s handling of the war.

She added that she remains hopeful in “that we are able to move towards a cease-fire, that we can address some of the issues that are occurring daily, the humanitarian aid… the real concern about civilians who are dying” and ultimately pursue a two-state solution.

The county executive traveled to Israel in December 2019 for a visit that included meetings with military officials, Knesset members and a historian, as well as a trip to the Golan Heights.

“We got to discuss the shared interest that the United States and Israel have, and that we have not only shared values around democracy, and freedom and human rights, but there are also a number of shared interests that we have that keep us as allies,” Alsobrooks said.

The county executive said she’s been closely following news about the war in the Middle East and has been discussing the ongoing developments with others.

Alsobrooks said she has a strong affinity for the Jewish community dating back to her childhood, when she learned about the Civil Rights Movement — “and there was no discussion about the Civil Rights Movement without discussing the relationship between the Jewish community and the Black community, and the fact that we were allied… how we could count on the shared friendship.”

She said she’s “ever mindful of the longstanding relationship… in a time of trouble.”

Public polling has largely shown Alsobrooks trailing Rep. David Trone (D-MD) in the Democratic primary, but she’s been closing the gap ahead of the May 14 primary election.

At the JCRC event, Alsobrooks described Trone as “compromised” on abortion policy, noting that he’d given significant political donations to GOP candidates who favor restrictive abortion policies and other policies that are anathema to Democratic voters.

“He set aside his values, whatever they are, in favor of growing the bottom line of his business,” Alsobrooks alleged. 

She said that this makes her better positioned to energize Democratic voters in the general election against former Gov. Larry Hogan. “[Trone] could have a real problem in a general election,” she said. “I think I’d beat Larry Hogan in a general election, and I think he believes that.”

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