Sen. Ted Cruz was booed offstage at a conference for Middle Eastern Christians Wednesday night after saying that “Christians have no greater ally than Israel.”
Cruz, the keynote speaker at the sold-out D.C. dinner gala for the recently-founded non-profit In Defense of Christians, began by saying that “tonight, we are all united in defense of Christians. Tonight, we are all united in defense of Jews. Tonight, we are all united in defense of people of good faith, who are standing together against those who would persecute and murder those who dare disagree with their religious teachings.”
Cruz was not reading from a teleprompter, nor did he appear to be reading from notes.
“Religious bigotry is a cancer with many manifestations,” he continued. “ISIS, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, state sponsors like Syria and Iran, are all engaged in a vicious genocidal campaign to destroy religious minorities in the Middle East. Sometimes we are told not to loop these groups together, that we have to understand their so called nuances and differences. But we shouldn’t try to parse different manifestations of evil that are on a murderous rampage through the region. Hate is hate, and murder is murder. Our purpose here tonight is to highlight a terrible injustice, a humanitarian crisis.”
“Christians have no greater ally than Israel,” he said, at which point members of the crowd began to yell “stop it” and booed him.
EWTN News Nightly’s Jason Calvi caught the moment on video.
“Those who hate Israel hate America,” he continued, as the boos and calls for him to leave the stage got louder. “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.”
The cries of “stop it, stop it, enough,” and booing continued. “Out, out, leave the stage!” At this point IDC’s president, Toufic Baaklini, came out to the stage to ask for the crowd to listen to Cruz, but Cruz had already had enough.
“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews,” he said. “Then I will not stand with you. Good night, and God bless.” And with that, he walked off the stage.
Many Christians in the Middle East take issue with Israeli military policy, which has made life for Palestinian Christians in their homeland very difficult, and driven many from their homes. “Israel’s policies have led to demographic pressure that’s made the West Bank and Gaza far more Muslim than in 1948,” explained one Middle East analyst.
IDC’s Executive Director, Andrew Doran, then came out on stage, saying “For the love of God, we’re here to talk about Christians and we’re here to be united.”
Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan Joseph Zahlawi, who leads the Antiochian Orthodox in North America, soon after led those present in the Lord’s Prayer.