Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was booed and heckled Wednesday after he voiced support for Israel and the Jewish people during his keynote address at the In Defense of Christians (IDC) Inaugural Summit 2014.
Cruz cut short his remarks, which he made at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
The IDC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the persecution and genocide of Christian minorities at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists — such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — hosted American lawmakers and religious leaders from a wide range of Christian denominations to focus attention on the urgent terrorist threats ravaging Christian communities in the Middle East and Africa.
“Religious bigotry is a cancer with many manifestations,” Cruz said, according to the conservative news website, The Daily Caller. “ISIL, al-Qaeda, 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.”
At this point, some members of the audience began to boo and shout at Cruz, calling for him to stop talking about Israel or leave the stage.
Despite attempts by a conference organizer to calm the audience, the taunting grew louder while Cruz continued.
“I will say this: I’m saddened to see that some here — not everyone, but some here — are so consumed by hate…” said Cruz, interrupted by increasing volume of the audience’s booing as seen in a video made by an EWTN reporter at the event.
“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you.” Cruz concluded emphatically and then walked off the stage.
Cruz’s office released a statement following the incident, quoting the senator lamenting the missed opportunity by the newly founded organization to foster solidarity between groups threatened with genocide.
“Tonight in Washington 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,” Cruz said in the statement. “I came to this event tonight to help shine a light on the tragic persecution and slaughter of Christians by ISIL 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.”
The Anti-Defamation League, a major international Jewish organization dedicated to fighting antisemitism, was dismayed at reports of the incident and in a press release Thursday, thanked the senator for standing up for the Jewish people. The ADL’s statement also highlighted its repeated expressions of concern for Christian minorities in the Middle East and Africa.
“We express deep appreciation to Senator Cruz for his brave and unflinching defense of Israel and the Jewish people,” said Abe Foxman, the ADL’s national director. “At the same time, we are dismayed that an event designed to draw the world’s attention to the serious problem of the persecution of Christians in the region was turned, by a vocal portion of the audience, into yet another opportunity to bash Israel, the only country in the Middle East where the practice of Christianity is protected by law and where the Christian population is growing.”
Although Cruz was one of the keynote speakers, several other pro-Israel lawmakers addressed the group during its visit to Capitol Hill earlier that day, including Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), who is Jewish.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, open supporters of the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were among the speakers for the three day event.
In his statement, Cruz said that he “told the attendees that those who hate Israel also hate America, that those who hate Jews also hate Christians, and that anyone who hates Israel and the Jewish people is not following the teachings of Christ.”
[email protected] @dmitriyshapiro
JNS.org contributed to this story.