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Senator Cruz booed after lecturing Eastern Catholic prelates on support for Israel

September 11, 2014

Senator Ted Cruz walked off the stage at a Washington conference on the persecution of Christians on September 10, after he was roundly booed for a keynote address in which he focused on support for Israel.

The controversial Texas Republican, who is often touted as a potential presidential candidate, irked an audience of Christians from the Middle East when he launched into a defense of Israel. The event, a conference In Defense of Christians, was dedicated to raising awareness of the persecution of Christian minorities.

“Christians have no greater ally than Israel,” Cruz said. When that comment was met with boos, he continued: “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you.” As the heckling escalated, Cruz left the room.

Leaders of the Eastern churches were puzzled and angered by the Texas lawmaker’s speech. The audience included representatives of nations with tense relations with Israel, and religious groups that have complained about Israeli government policies. More to the point, the conference in Washington had been designed to raise American public awareness of the brutal violence directed at Christians, and the threat that the Christian presence in the Middle East could be extinguished.

Among the participants in the Washington conference were several patriarchs of Eastern Catholic churches. Melkite Patriarch Gregory Laham, infuriated by the Cruz speech, reportedly threatened to withdraw from the conference. He was persuaded to stay by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai, who encouraged all conference attendees to remain, despite any political differences.


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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Sep. 13, 2014 4:01 PM ET USA

    I fear that "like Cruz" I am not that complicated. As the saying goes in New York City, "If I 'see something' I 'say something...'" Cruz only discerned something that has been smoldering for some time, even scandalously among Catholic Christian leaders, and that is a resentment, even a contempt for Jews.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 13, 2014 10:59 AM ET USA

    I stand by my earlier comment, but after reading Phil's lengthy post on the home page re Cruz's comments, I agree with Phil. That was not the place nor time for Cruz to harp on Israel. Reminds of Paul in Acts, bringing up resurrection when finding himself surrounded by pharisees and sadducees. Paul, a skilled public speaker, got the result he was looking for. 'Pears that Cruz did too.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2014 10:50 PM ET USA

    Learn your history of the Middle East. North Africa and the Middle East, including the Sinai Peninsula, Arabia and all of Turkey was Christian until the 7th Century, when the Moslem terrorists rode out of the Arabian Desert and Conquered the Holy Lands, all of Christian North Africa, Western Europe as far North as Tours, France, Central Europe including Sicily, Malta, and various Italian ports; and Eastern Europe beyond Vienna. Cornelius Lang

  • Posted by: Defender - Sep. 12, 2014 6:40 PM ET USA

    And just who is conducting the threat of "brutal violence directed at Christians, and the threat that the Christian presence in the Middle East could be extinguished"? The Palestinian terrorists, ISIS, HAMAS, etc! These "leaders" and religious heads so hate Israel that they can't see what is before them and can't admit what Cruz had to say is correct.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2014 1:58 PM ET USA

    Well said, Defender and jg237...

  • Posted by: - Sep. 12, 2014 11:16 AM ET USA

    Romans 11, Christians wiill be grafted onto the root stock of Israel. How is that to be accomplished if Christtians do not support Israel? My mind's open. If someone can explain that to me, I'll throw Israel under the bus. Won't be holding my breath, though.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Sep. 12, 2014 10:41 AM ET USA

    Those who equate opposition to Israel's policies with anti-Semitism should take some time to talk to those Arab Christians who have experienced firsthand the effects of Israel's policies in its occupied territories. Call the Middle-Eastern Christians gathered there a "crowd of boors", but they know a lot more about Israel than does Senator Cruz.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Sep. 12, 2014 7:12 AM ET USA

    Cruz was right to refuse to talk to this crowd of boors. Of course, the covert anti-Semites out there who hide their prejudice behind denunciations of "Zionism" will criticize him, but those with eyes in their heads and sense enough to reject Mohammedan propaganda applaud him. Many Christians in that area but outside Israel are playing a dangerous game of appeasing Muslims who will eventually crush them. Christians inside Israel, though, enjoy religious freedom and thrive. Count me with Israel.

  • Posted by: seraphic avenger - Sep. 12, 2014 5:47 AM ET USA

    Count me with Cruz & the Jews!

  • Posted by: Defender - Sep. 12, 2014 1:23 AM ET USA

    Cruz, a keynote speaker the conference for Middle Eastern Christians, was told to 'leave the stage' after a saying, ‘Christians have no greater ally than Israel.’ Cruz told the crowd, 'If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,' and walked offstage. Not surprised. What Cruz said is true, the problem lies with the clergy in the region - they identify as Arab- or Palestinian- Catholics first, not the other way around (same kind of problem in the US, too).

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Sep. 11, 2014 8:08 PM ET USA

    Ted Cruz and his father appear to have fallen into alliance with John Hagee, whose rabid support for Zionism is likely fueled by his conviction that a major Mideast war is inevitable, and will bring about the return of Christ. Those of us who have been with West Bank Catholics know that the Israeli's at best tolerate Catholics. Hagee is more of their kind of Christian.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Sep. 11, 2014 7:27 PM ET USA

    Cruz knows where his bread is buttered, and he knows that without AIPAC support, his chances of holding onto his senate seat, or getting to first base in a Presidential run, are not good if he doesn't tout unconditional support for Israel. The tail is wagging the dog here. Glad to see these Christians let Cruz know they weren't buying what he was peddling.