The presidential campaign for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is defending a controversial endorsement from an anti-Semitic pastor, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.
Kansas pastor Mike Bickle endorsed Cruz. He also runs a campaign of his own called the “Israel Mandate,” which has the goal of “partnering with Messianic Jews for the salvation of the Jewish people,” according to JTA.
Bickle has made some troubling comments, including a sermon in 2011 predicting that God will send “hunters” against Jewish people who refuse to convert to Christianity. Six years earlier in 2005, he said, “a significant number of Jews will be in work camps, prison camps or death camps.”
But Bickle’s remarks have earned the ire of the Anti-Defamation League, which told the Times of Israel that “Mike Bickle’s views about why God allowed Jews to be killed in the Holocaust, as expressed in a 2011 speech, are abhorrent, intolerant and unacceptable. We assume that Senator Cruz accepted Bickle’s endorsement without knowing about these comments. We hope that when these comments are called to the Senator’s attention, he will clearly and forcefully reject Bickle’s hateful ideas.”
Nick Muzin, an adviser to Ted Cruz’s campaign, brushed the remarks off, telling Jewish Insider, “My understanding is that he was paraphrasing the words of the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah. I know that he has made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of his mission.”
According to JTA, Ted Cruz has employed “dog whistles” that allude to negative sentiments toward American Jews, including talk of rival Donald Trump’s “New York values,” even calling the popular Yiddish expression “chutzpah,” a “New York term.”