Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was booed offstage Wednesday night by a crowd of Middle Eastern Christians after he told the crowd they had “no greater ally than Israel.”
The Tea Party conservative was the keynote speaker at a sold-out gala for the recently founded In Defense of Christians, a Washington-based nonprofit that highlights persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
The Daily Caller reported that Cruz was not reading from notes or a teleprompter when he upset the crowd.
“Tonight, we are all united in defense of Christians,” Cruz said. “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.”
The Republican senator said religious bigotry was a cancer that took many forms.
“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,” Cruz said. “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, and the crowd turned on him.
Some audience members yelled for him to “stop it,” while others booed the lawmaker as he pressed on.
“Those who hate Israel hate America,” Cruz continued, as the crowd jeered. “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.”
Audience members begged Cruz to stop talking as the nonprofit group’s president, Toufic Baaklini, asked them to listen to the senator – who made some brief remarks before leaving the stage.
“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” Cruz said. “Good night, and God bless.”
Many of the estimated 12 million Christians in the Middle East disagree with Israeli military policy against the Palestinians – many of whom are Christian.
Watch the crowd boo Cruz from the stage in this video posted online by jayeveryman: