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September 12, 2014 2:55 pm

Jewish Groups Rush to Defend Senator Ted Cruz After Shout-Down at Dinner

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

Major American Jewish groups rushed to defend Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday after he was booed off stage at a gala dinner on Wednesday night for voicing solidarity with Israel and Jews.

Leaders also criticized attendees at the event, a Washington, D.C. fundraiser for a suspected Iran aligned group called In Defense of Christians, for heckling Cruz, a darling of the evangelical Christian community.

The charity says it aims to draw attention to the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

Speaking on stage, Cruz said Israel and the Jewish people face the same threat from radical Islam as Christians in the Middle East, adding that Christians “have no greater ally than Israel.”

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Audience members then booed and shouted protests, leading the senator to walk off stage and leave the event.

“Those who hate Israel hate America, and those who hate Jews hate Christians, and if this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps that the men and women here will not stand in solidarity with Jews and Christians alike who are persecuted by radicals who seek to murder them,” he said. “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you.”

Major Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said it was “appalled” by the incident.

In a statement, SWC Dean and Founder Rabbi Marvin Hier, and Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said, “While we will continue to speak out against those who suffer ethnic cleansing and violence because of their religious faiths, we will never make common cause with bigots who do not show basic respect for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, the only nation in that region where religious rights of all are guaranteed, and the only Middle East society where the population of Christians is rising.”

The SWC also praised Senator Cruz for voicing support for Israel at the event, saying it “applauds Senator Cruz for his integrity and courage in telling 17 Christian Patriarchs and their supporters the truth.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was disappointed that the focus of the conference shifted from the persecution of Christians to attacking Israel.

“We express deep appreciation to Senator Cruz for his brave and unflinching defense of Israel and the Jewish people,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman. “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.”

Foxman said, “Apparently for some in the room, hatred of Israel trumps even their concern for fellow Christians.”

Morton A. Klein, who heads the Zionist Organization of America, said, “We strongly applaud Senator Cruz for showing the moral clarity and courage to call out rank anti-Semitism and uncontrolled hatred of the Jewish state of Israel and demonstrating his contempt for it by walking out on the audience that had expressed it.”

“It is shocking that a Conference designed to raise awareness of Christian minorities suffering murder and persecution from radical Muslims in the Middle East should have so many hateful anti-Semites who do not want Jews defended from the jihadist violence and terror that threatens their own Christian communities,” he said. “These anti-Semitic people want Muslims to do to the Jews what they are doing to Christians.”

“Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when one sees that the Israel-hating Arab American Institute president James Zogby was one of the Conference organizers and sits on the In Defense of Christians advisory committee.”

Klein praised Cruz as “a sincere, knowledgeable and unabashed supporter of the Jewish state of Israel.”

Another major Jewish group, B’nai B’rith International, expressed similar sentiments, saying it was troubled that the gathering was “overshadowed by a display of animosity toward Israel.”

“Just as the entire international community must rally to protect the fundamental rights and dignity of Christians in places like Iraq and Syria, Christian leaders and faithful, along with others, are morally obliged do the same for Jews in the Middle East. There can be no condoning or belittling the Islamist extremists doctrinally committed to the violent destruction of the Middle East’s democratic Jewish state,” B’nai B’rith said. “If efforts for peace, and to protect Middle Eastern Christians, are to succeed, there must be recognition that ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ applies to the people of Israel as much as to any other human beings.”

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