Senator Cruz Gets Shouted Down

Senator Ted Cruz had a heck of an evening as keynote speaker at the In Defense of Christians summit’s “solidarity dinner” event last night in Washington. The Texas Republican was driven from the stage by hoots and catcalls, not something you hear everyday from the mouths of staid Middle East Christian bishops and eparchs. The Senator had been energetically scolding the audience for its spontaneous rejection of his demand that they stand by the state of Israel against Islamic extremism.

The crowd was surprised, and not pleasantly, by Sen. Cruz’s suggestion that “Christians have no greater ally than Israel.” Many in the audience, among them bishops and patriarchs from Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Jordan, apparently do not share Sen. Cruz’s unshakable confidence in the soundness of Israeli policy toward Palestinians and its engagement with the Arab world. Many have to maintain delicate relationships with Muslim neighbors in one of the most strife-ridden regions in the world today. The Senator’s apparent lack of sensitivity to such nuance quickly raised hackles, and hoots, among many in the crowd, but their ire reached a boiling point when he pressed the point home.

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As the cat-calls and booing grew louder, Cruz persisted: “Those who hate Israel hate America. Those who hate Jews hate Christians. If those in this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps. If you hate the Jewish people you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ. And the very same people who persecute and murder Christians right now, who crucify Christians, who behead children, are the very same people who target Jews for their faith, for the same reason.”

Toufic Baaklini, the president of In Defense of Christians, came to the stage to try to restore order, but audience members began to call out for Cruz to stop. He did so after tossing off a final provocation: “I will say this. I am saddened to see that some here, not everyone, but some here are so consumed with hate that you cannot…” and here is comments are drowned out by cat-calls. He continued: “I will say this: If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” Cruz said. “Good night, and God bless.” Senator Cruz then turned and walked off the stage to loud anti-applause.

A cynic might say that the Senator’s intended audience for such provocative comments was not exactly in attendance at the In Defense of Christians summit and it is hard to say what he practically means by the “I will not stand with you” comment. I have contacted the Senator’s office to get clarification on that but so far no response. Cruz's confrontation with the Middle East Christians has already been warmly received by some in the conservative media who are equating it with talking tough to Christian leaders who are allegedly too cozy with Palestinian groups in Gaza or the West bank or with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Far from attempting to soothe relations with the startled Middle Eastern Christian leaders, the Senator’s press office issued a statement which doubled down on his comments last night, describing the rejection of his apparently unscripted comments as an example of bigotry and anti-Semitism:

Last night’s event, Cruz said in the statement, “should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself 'In Defense of Christians.’ Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred.

“When I spoke in strong support of Israel and the Jewish people, who are being persecuted and murdered by the same vicious terrorists who are also slaughtering Christians, many Christians in the audience applauded. But, sadly, a vocal and angry minority of attendees at the conference tried to shout down my expression of solidarity with Israel.

“They cannot shout down the truth.  And we should not shy away from expressing the truth, even in the face of—especially in the face of—ignorance and bigotry.

Senator Cruz added, “I came to this event tonight to help shine a light on the tragic persecution and slaughter of Christians by ISIS and Islamic radicals throughout the Middle East. American leaders have been far too silent as to this horrific evil.

“But bigotry and hatred have no place in this discussion. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight.”

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Marie Rehbein
3 years 5 months ago
So, according to Cruz, if Israel were to take a stand against Christians, the Christians would be obligated to ally themselves with ISIS? According to me, if someone hates both you and someone else, it does not mean that you have to support each other in everything each of you does. Senator Ted Cruz is a prime example of an undereducated Texas politician who is not capable of even the simplest logical thinking.
Vincent Gaitley
3 years 5 months ago
And you're just another name caller. The Senator outclassed his audience last night saying, "If you will not stand with Israel, I will not stand with you." Then he walked off stage. At least he isn't wishy washy or anti-semitic.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 5 months ago
What a brilliant retort. I am a name-caller by identifying the flaws in both the thinking and the background of Ted Cruz? He was not wishy-washy, he was stupid. If he wanted allies on the issue of supporting Israel, he should have made clear that Israel is not perfect and finds itself in a difficult position most of the time, and then he should have explained how being supportive of Israel could benefit these Christians -- if he actually has an idea of how that could be.
ed gleason
3 years 5 months ago
I am old enough to remind people Cruz looks and sounds like Joe Mc Carthy who made a career out of fslsely identifying enemies of our country... until he labeled Gen. George Marshall an enemy. Watch Cruz make a similar mistake. .. my guess it will be naming the Pope as enemy. . . ..
J Cosgrove
3 years 5 months ago
Senator McCarthy was a Republican but he was one only because that was how he could get elected in Wisconsin. Prior to that he was with the left wing Progressive Party in Wisconsin. He was also a close friend of John and Bobby Kennedy.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 5 months ago
So you are saying that McCarthy was a political wheeler-dealer and not disagreeing with Ed that Cruz bears a resemblance to him in style and appearance.
Vincent Gaitley
3 years 5 months ago
The Senator's "undereducated Texas" mind includes his BA from Princeton, cum laude, and a Harvard law degree, magna cum laude.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 5 months ago
I am sorry. It appears that he was brainwashed at an early age and then his intellect was coopted to support his brainwashed state. Credit to Princeton and Harvard for their liberal tolerance of Cruz's ultraconservative beliefs while allowing him to attempt to hone his debating skills. However, welcome to the real world, Mr. Cruz where your reality does not match that of the people who are actually experiencing theirs and they are under no obligation to tolerate you. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/ted-cruz-texas-gop-senate
Robert Little
3 years 5 months ago
No one thinks we should stand with Israel if it no longer supported religious freedom. We stand with Israel so long as it does. There are a whole lot more churches in Israel than in Saudi Arabia. There were many innocent Muslim victims of 9/11. The only 9/11 memorial in the entire Middle East? It's in Israel.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 5 months ago
I don't think the reason Cruz was booed is because people don't recognize that within Israel, there is religious freedom. When Israel bombs the Palestinians, it would not surprise me to learn that some Christians are among the affected people. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia isn't actually involved in this situation.
J Cosgrove
3 years 5 months ago
I am not a big fan of Ted Cruz but apparently he is in the right here. Israel is one of the Christian's biggest friends in the Mid East. An article that appeared five years ago: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KH11Ak02.html
A century ago, Christians dominated the intellectual and commercial life of the Levant, comprising more than one-fifth of the 13 million people of Turkey, the region’s ruling power, and most of the population of Lebanon. Ancient communities flourished in what is now Iraq and Syria. But starting with the Armenian genocide in 1914 and continuing through the massacre and expulsion of Anatolian Greeks in 1922-1923, the Turks killed three to four million Christians in Turkey and the Ottoman provinces. Thus began a century of Muslim violence that nearly has eradicated Christian communities in the cradle of their religion. It may seem odd to blame the Jews for the misery of Middle East Christians, but many Christian Arabs do so – less because they are Christians than because they are Arabs. The Christian religion is flourishing inside the Jewish side. Only 50,000 Christian Arabs remain in the West Bank territories, and their numbers continue to erode. Hebrew-speaking Christians, mainly immigrants from Eastern Europe or the Philippines, make up a prospective Christian congregation of perhaps 300,000 in the State of Israel, double the number of a decade ago.
While the Kurds are being attacked by ISIS, they are holding their own so far mainly because they are armed and trained by Israel while the US dithers about aid to the Kurds. The Kurds are protecting many of the Christian refugees of Northern Iraq. America has a history of publishing anti-Israel articles. They should look to find some new authors who might present a more balance view.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 5 months ago
While Israel is tolerant of Christians in Israel, it never comes to the defense of Christians in the neighboring countries. I would not expect Israel to do it, but apparently some people think it actually does.
J Cosgrove
3 years 5 months ago
Ted Cruz has gotten some interesting responses from a supporter of the Tea Party who calls Cruz's speech
Ted Cruz and the most cynical, despicable political stunt of the year
http://theweek.com/article/index/267993/ted-cruz-and-the-most-cynical-despicable-political-stunt-of-the-year and another conservative writer who talks about the unsavory relationships of some Mid-East Christians with known terrorists.
Unsavory Bedfellows It’s not easy protecting the Christians of the Middle East.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/unsavory-bedfellows_804846.html The history of Muslim persecution of Christians in the Middle East goes back centuries but the modern version started a hundred years ago with the Turkish genocide of Armenians and other Christians. So it is almost impossible for Middle East Christians to exist without some association with Muslim terrorists. They just hope it is other Muslim sects that their patrons are primarily interested in eliminating. But all Muslims hate Israel so whoever protects the Christians will want to eliminate Israel. It is in this context that we have to understand the relationship of Christians with Israel. One of Israel's cabinet members said the other night. The only safe place for a Christian or a Muslim in the Middle East is in Israel. There they are protected. That does not mean that every Israel Jew is happy with non-Jews. There are lots of instances of discrimination and ill behavior byJews towards Christians and Muslims but it is not state sponsored.
Michael Kelly
3 years 5 months ago
In defense of Sen. Cruz see Commentary magazine (9/14/14, Jonathan Tobin) http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/09/14/the-truth-about-israel-and-christians-ted-cruz-middle-east-persecution/ Excerpt: Just as important, the notion that the fight to save Christians can be separated from that of Israel is a pernicious myth that should be debunked. (Ross) Douthat believes exposing the existence of Jew haters in the ranks of those purporting to represent Middle East Christians is a mistake because it shows no appreciation for the plight of Christians who face genocide. But by allying themselves with those who wish to perpetrate genocide on the other significant religious minority in the region, as some have repeatedly done in the last century of conflict, they have flung away their best hope for a strategic partner who could help them resist the Islamist tide. Religious persecution cannot be stopped against one minority while hatred against another is legitimized. As Seth wrote, Israel is already doing more to assist Christians than Douthat or the anti-Zionists at the American Conservative who claim to be their friends. Today Christians are being slaughtered or forced to flee from Iraq and Syria to the point where soon once great communities may be extinguished. But while we rightly protest against this and lament such destruction, it is apt to also recall that a generation ago, some Christians and their foreign friends either assisted or stood by mutely while the same thing was happening to the once great Jewish communities in the Arab and Muslim world. American Christians of every denomination, including evangelicals and Catholics, are among the most faithful friends of Israel today. But the refusal of Middle East Christians to befriend the Zionist movement, even as it offered them the only possible counterforce in the region to a hostile Muslim majority, was a historic error. That this error is being repeated today is a tragedy for both sides. Let me repeat, as I wrote on Thursday and many times before that, that Americans have a duty to rise up and demand that Western governments pay attention to the plight of Middle East Christians and to, if necessary, intervene on their behalf. But the notion that this struggle can be conducted in isolation from the defense of Israel against the same forces seeking to wipe out Christians is madness. That those who claim to care about these Christians believe that politicians like Ted Cruz should check their support for Israel at the door when discussing the Middle East is an indication of just how little some of them understand the region as well as their cluelessness about the rising tide of anti-Semitism sweeping the globe. See also: amerihttp://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/09/12/ted-cruz-idc-and-the-politics-of-solidarity/

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