A group of Middle Eastern Christians who booed U.S. Senator Ted Cruz should have known the Tea Party darling from Texas was a “staunch defender of Israel” when they asked him to speak, a Cruz spokeswoman said.
“Had any guidelines been given about not speaking about Israel, we would have declined the invitation,” Catherine Frazier, a Cruz spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Cruz, a potential Republican presidential candidate and a supporter of the limited-government Tea Party movement, spoke yesterday in Washington at the inaugural conference of a nonprofit group called In Defense of Christians.
Cruz used the speech to urge the audience to stand behind Israel and Jews and abruptly walked off stage when the crowd reacted with boos.
Joseph Cella, a spokesman for the group, said Cruz was invited to speak on the theme of “Religious Freedom and Human Dignity.”
“Christians have no greater ally than Israel,” Cruz said, prompting a first round of jeering, according to the Daily Caller. He left the stage a short time later, telling the audience, “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, I will not stand with you. Good night and God bless.”
Frazier said Cruz accepted the invitation to “raise awareness for persecuted Christians.” His views on Israel were relevant, she said, “given the fact that Jews are a target of these groups, just as Christians.”
A picture of the senator was removed from the group’s website.
“This event was billed as one to raise awareness of persecution of Christians across the globe,” Frazier said. “This is a very important issue to the senator. It should be crystal clear to anyone that follows Cruz that he is a staunch defender of Israel.”
Cruz was speaking on the night that President Barack Obama announced his intention to start a broader campaign to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Some in Washington questioned whether there may have been premeditation on Cruz’s part.
“It doesn’t sound like it’s something that would be accidental to me,” Representative Tom Latham, an Iowa Republican, said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington today.
Toufic Baaklini, president of Washington-based In Defense of Christians, which describes itself as committed to protecting Christians in the Middle East, said individuals who disrupted the dinner event “do not adhere” to the group’s principles.
“A few politically motivated opportunists chose to divide a room that for more than 48 hours sought unity in opposing the shared threat of genocide, faced not only by our Christian brothers and sisters, but our Jewish brothers and sisters and people of all other faiths and all people of good will,” Baaklini said in a statement posted on the group’s website.
The incident was caught on video by Jason Calvi, a reporter for “EWTN News Nightly,” a program on the global Catholic broadcast network, according to the Daily Caller.
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