Ted Cruz Stands Up For Israel [Updated]

You likely have heard about the event last night, billed as Christian, at which Ted Cruz was “booed off the stage” after he made pro-Israel remarks. While that isn’t exactly what happened, the incident was certainly of interest.

The IDC Summit 2014 was sponsored by a just-founded group called In Defense of Christians. The event, which wound up today, took place over three days at the Omni Shoreham in Washington. It was a big deal, with a wide range of speakers, many from the Middle East but also including luminaries like John Ashcroft, Rob Portman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and, of course, Ted Cruz. On its face, IDC sounds like a good cause:

The primary purpose of the Summit is to bring all members of the Diaspora together in a newfound sense of unity. Whether Orthodox or Catholic; Evangelical, Coptic or Maronite; Syriac, Lebanese, Chaldean or Assyrian – all Middle Eastern Christians will be called on to join together in solidarity.

This solidarity will strengthen advocacy efforts with policy makers and elected officials and make more palatable grassroots outreach to the American public. Thus united, Middle Eastern Christians will invite all people of good will to join the cause to defend the defenseless, to be a voice for those who are voiceless.

Certainly more needs to be done to defend the persecuted Christian communities of the Middle East. But Cruz seems to have known that something was up with the group and the Summit. If you watch the video below, I think you will see what I mean. Cruz’s planned remarks emphasized the unitary nature of the threat from organizations like ISIS and Hamas, and equated threats against Christians with threats against Jews. Most of the crowd was with him, but he seems to have known that some would not be, and have gone out of his way to draw out the anti-Jewish minority. Watch how he waits for a reaction after saying, “Today, Christians have no greater ally than the Jewish state.”

I don’t think we know, yet, exactly what was going on. Maybe Cruz was aware of a sinister element within the IDC organization and wanted to expose it. Maybe it was something that he picked up on in the hall and dealt with spontaneously. Or maybe he foresaw that a handful of Palestinian Christians (I assume that is mostly, at least, who booed) might audibly protest his remarks, and took advantage of that to establish his pro-Israel bona fides. Maybe I am wrong, but the video gives me the impression that Cruz went into the evening looking for a fight. Which, of course, would not be totally out of character.

UPDATE: Scott supplied the answer to the riddle, in the form of this reporting from the Washington Free Beacon:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) is headlining a conference on Wednesday funded by a controversial Clinton donor that will feature pro-Hezbollah and pro-Assad speakers in Washington, D.C. …

The roster of speakers includes some of the Assad regime’s most vocal Christian supporters, as well as religious leaders allied with the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. …

Funding for the conference was provided by Clinton donor and Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, according to organizers. The wealthy businessman pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009.

Chagoury is also reportedly backer of Lebanese politician Michel Aoun, Hezbollah’s top Christian ally in the country, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.

Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Raï, who was scheduled to speak during the same keynote slot as Cruz on Wednesday evening, has called Israel an “enemy state that is occupying Lebanese territory” and defended Hezbollah’s right to attack the Jewish state. …

Others at the summit have also aligned themselves with the Iranian-backed terrorist group. Syriac Orthodox Church Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II posted photos from his meeting with a “high level delegation from Hezbollah” on his official Facebook page last week. …

Another conference speaker, Antioch Church patriarch Gregory III Laham has claimed a “Zionist conspiracy against Islam” is responsible for al Qaeda attacks on Iraqi Christians.

“It is actually a conspiracy planned by Zionism and some Christians with Zionist orientations, and it aims at undermining and giving a bad image of Islam,” Laham said in 2010, according to the Daily Star. …

A spokesperson for Cruz said the senator will still speak at the conference despite the controversial participants because he is committed to raising awareness about the persecution of Middle East Christians.

“Sen. Cruz is appearing at the In Defense of Christians event tonight because he wants to take every opportunity to highlight this crisis, the unspeakable persecution of Christians,” said Catherine Frazier. “America has been silent for far too long, and we need to speak with a united voice against this horror. Sen. Cruz is speaking to make the unequivocal point that religious bigotry in all its forms–be it targeting Christians, Jews, or minority Muslim sects–is an evil that must be exposed and combatted.”

So Cruz, contacted by the press ahead of time, made lemonade out of lemons. Would he have given the same speech if the conference’s unsavory affiliations hadn’t already been exposed? Perhaps so. He is, in any event, a strong supporter of Israel, as you would expect.

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