Republican Senator Ted Cruz was booed off stage during a gala event for persecuted Middle Eastern Christians on Wednesday night after reportedly voicing unabashed praise for Israel.
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The Texas senator, who was a keynote speaker for the Washington event organized by In Defense of Christians, outraged many in the crowd with his comments, including one in which he said that "Christians have no greater ally than Israel," which drew outcries from the audience, Politico reported.
Cruz continued even as the crowd started to turn against him: "Those who hate Israel hate America. Those who hate Jews hate Christians. If those in this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps. If you hate the Jewish people, you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ. And the very same people who persecute and murder Christians right now, who crucify Christians, who behead children, are the very same people who target Jews for their faith, for the same reason,” Cruz said, according to Blaze.
A video flagged by Blaze shows what appear to be the last moments of Cruz's address before he was booed off stage.
"I must say that I'm saddened to say that some here – not all here, but some here – are so consumed with hate," Cruz tells the audience, which shout back at him. "If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you," Cruz said and walked off.
In a statement released after the event, Cruz accused a "vocal and angry minority" in the audience of disrupting his address, and went on to accuse them of anti-Semitism: "Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight," his statement read, according to Business Insider.
Prior to Cruz’s speech on Wednesday, the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, reported that the “In Defense of Christians” conference was organized by Christian Lebanese with ties to Hezbollah, JTA reported.
Other speakers included some of Syrian President Bashar Assad's "most vocal Christian supporters," according to the Beacon.
According to Cruz's spokesperson, the senator agreed to head the roster of speakers despite some of them, “because he wants to take every opportunity to highlight this crisis, the unspeakable persecution of Christians,” Blaze reported.