Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) speech to a Middle Eastern Christian group isn’t only being panned by Democrats. Conservative Christian and other right-leaning observers are also weighing in critically.
Cruz, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was set to headline the Wednesday night event of “In Defence of Christians.” However, after he relentlessly praised Israel, Cruz ended up walking off the stage amid a chorus of boos.
“Let me say this: Those who hate Israel hate America. And those who hate Jews hate Christians. And if this room will not recognise that, then my heart weeps,” Cruz said as the audience’s heckling started to increase.
Cruz received plenty of immediate praise from right-leaning and Jewish outlets for unabashedly standing up for Israel. However, plenty of others have criticised him for the alleged stunt in front an organisation he may have known would not be as pro-Israel as an American evangelical crowd.
“Eventually maybe Ted Cruz will do something in Washington that doesn’t give off a strong whiff of cynicism. But I’m not holding my breath,” Ross Douthat, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, wrote on Twitter. “Persecuted Middle Eastern Christians: Too religious for the left, too foreign for the right, insufficiently pro-Israel for Ted Cruz.”
Mark Tooley, the president of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy, who attended the Cruz-headlined event on Wednesday, wrote a blog post noting, “It’s no secret that many Mideast Christians generally aren’t big fans of Israel.”
“Likely Cruz, a savvy politician, knew the reaction he would provoke from some by commending Israel, and he maximized his political moment before the many cameras,” Tooley said. “Generally, most Mideast Christians cannot further imperil themselves by ever seeming politically to sympathize with Israel or the West.”
Mollie Hemingway, writing in The Federalist web magazine, agreed.
“When Cruz was supposed to give the keynote address and discuss the deadly serious topic of persecution of Christians, he instead insulted a largely immigrant and foreign crowd as a group that didn’t understand their own political situation and stomped out of the room after calling them a bunch of haters,” she wrote. “Sheesh.”
Matt Lewis similarly wrote an article for the Daily Caller suggesting Cruz was focused on his “commitment to grandiosity and self-promotion.” Lewis pointed to another Douthat tweet that said: “Telling M.E. Christians they ‘have no greater ally than the Jewish state,’ the line that touched off the booing, is risible.”
“This is an important, if subtle, distinction — and one that conservatives should be familiar wit,” Lewis concluded. “Douthat is suggesting that the crowd wasn’t booing Israel, instead, they were booing Cruz for playing politics — for having the audacity to lecture them about their own business.”
View Cruz’s full speech below.
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