Let me say for the record that I do not object to Sen. Ted Cruz making the case that Jews are among the religious minorities that face faith-based violence from radicals in the Middle East. To the contrary, it’s a good message to deliver to any group that purports to be concerned about threats to religious liberty in the region.
But you can deliver a message in a way your audience can hear and you can deliver a message in way your audience cannot. And Cruz, the U.S. Senate’s Solon Provocateur, opted for the latter in keynoting the inaugural banquet of a new organization called In Defense of Christians (IDC) Tuesday evening.
Here’s where the provocation began:
In 1948, Jews throughout the Middle East faced murder and extermination and fled to the national of Israel. And today, Christians have no greater ally than the Jewish State. [applause and scattered boos] Let me say this. Those who hate Israel, hate America. [boos and scattered applause] And those who hate Jews hate Christians. [boos and scattered applause] And if this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps that the men and women here will not stand in solidarity with the Jews and Christians who are persecuted alike by radicals who seek to murder them. [applause]
Cruz is no dummy, and it is impossible to believe that he is unaware of the fact that at the time of Israel’s War of Independence, Jewish fighters did some bad things to Arab Muslims and Christians in Palestine. There were Christians who went into exile, such as the late George Habash, who became some of Israel’s bitterest foes. While Israel is no enemy of Christians as such, it is hardly the case — not to say a poke in the eye — to tell a group of Middle Eastern Christians that they have no greater ally than the Jewish State.
After the meeting began to slip out of control, Cruz proceeded to pile it on: “I will say this. I am saddened to see that some here — not everyone but some here — are so consumed with hate that you cannot address your brother. I will say this. If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you.”
Cruz could easily have made the pill go down easier, for example by simply saying that the threat posed to religious minorities by the likes of ISIS affect not only Christians but others as well — Yazidis and those Muslims whom the radicals consider heretical or insufficiently orthodox — and, yes, the Jews too. But that would not have earned him the kind of favor he is evidently seeking. If I were one of the Catholic or Orthodox organizers of the group, I’d be pretty pissed at the junior senator from Texas, for making the story of the roll-out of IDC all about his embrace of the Jews and the group’s religious intolerance.