In case you haven’t seen it already at the Daily Caller, turns out Palestinian and Lebanese Christians aren’t as pro-Israel as their American counterparts.
How often do you hear about a national pol being booed offstage anywhere and think, “Wow, that’s a big political win for him”? But it is.
“Christians have no greater ally than Israel,” he said, at which point members of the crowd began to yell “stop it” and booed him.
EWTN News Nightly’s Jason Calvi caught the moment on video.
“Those who hate Israel hate America,” he continued, as the boos and calls for him to leave the stage got louder. “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.”
The cries of “stop it, stop it, enough,” and booing continued. “Out, out, leave the stage!” At this point IDC’s president, Toufic Baaklini, came out to the stage to ask for the crowd to listen to Cruz, but Cruz had already had enough.
Watch the clip to see what he said next. Rand Paul’s made it a staple of his comments on the Middle East over the past few years to note how many of our “allies” persecute Christians. He’s right, and that’s shrewdly calculated to appeal to evangelicals who might otherwise be jittery about Paul’s motives in wanting to scale back foreign aid. Watching this, though, and knowing how it’s destined to go viral among grassroots righties, I feel like Cruz probably did himself as much good in 40 seconds with those voters as Rand has in two years. Smart guy, but then we already knew that.
Interesting backstory: The conference was a minor political headache for Cruz by the time he came to the podium thanks to this Free Beacon story yesterday noting that a few of the other speakers were known to back Hezbollah and Bashar Assad, a.k.a. our new allies against ISIS. (The Beacon’s headline: “Cruz Headlines Conference Featuring Hezbollah Supporters.”) If his audience had sat quietly during his passages on Israel, the Beacon would probably be pressing him today to explain why he deigned to speak at an event with people like that sharing the dais. How pro-Israel can he really be? Instead, the crowd started booing him — Lebanon’s ambassador to the U.S. supposedly left the room in anger — and he not only stood his ground, he pressed the point. That’s brilliant political signaling, not just in terms of demonstrating his commitment to Israel but in showing his conservative base that he refuses to retreat under political pressure. We already knew that too from last year’s “defund” effort and the ensuing shutdown but it’s a point that can’t be repeated enough. If you’re a tea partier yearning for someone to support who won’t budge under withering fire from the left, the media, and from people like this, Cruz has done everything he can in his 20 months in the Senate to say “I’m that guy.” It might not win him the presidency but it’ll ensure he has a lot of power among congressional Republicans for years to come. How many other freshmen senators with less than two years on the job are able to heavily influence whether the government gets funded or not? As I say: Smart guy.
The Free Beacon has a new story today about Cruz and the conference, by the way. Headline: “Ted Cruz Stands Up to ‘Hatred and Bigotry’ at Conference of Middle Eastern Christians.” Consider this narrative changed.