In a shocking role reversal, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was fed to the Christians Wednesday night when he was summarily booed off the stage by attendees of the “In Defense Of Christians Dinner” over his expression of support for Israel. At first blush, this sounds like a delicious case of ignorant Bible-thumpingpromise-ring wearers giving Cruz a taste of conservatism’s sweet, sweet fruit of intolerance, but as it turns out, it’s a less sweet tale of Cruz’s own ignorance.
Cruz, you see, was the keynote speaker at a dinner for Middle Eastern Christians, despite having taken criticism from conservatives without an appreciation for the complex politics of the region. As it turns out, Cruz’s similar ignorance led to this scene:
Apparently some Christians in the Middle East don’t equate support for Israeli government policy with religious tolerance, a distinction that Republicans love to ignore here at home, as well. In his statement on the incident, Cruz accused the crowd of “anti-Semitism” (via email):
“Tonight in Washington should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself ‘In Defense of Christians.’ Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred.
“When I spoke in strong support of Israel and the Jewish people, who are being persecuted and murdered by the same vicious terrorists who are also slaughtering Christians, many Christians in the audience applauded. But, sadly, a vocal and angry minority of attendees at the conference tried to shout down my expression of solidarity with Israel.
“They cannot shout down the truth. And we should not shy away from expressing the truth, even in the face of – especially in the face of – ignorance and bigotry.
“I told the attendees that those who hate Israel also hate America, that those who hate Jews also hate Christians, and that anyone who hates Israel and the Jewish people is not following the teachings of Christ.
“These statements were met with angry boos. I went on to tell the crowd that Christians in the Middle East have no better friend than Israel. That Christians can practice their faith free of persecution in Israel. And that ISIS, al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, along with their state sponsors in Syria and Iran, are all part of the same cancer, murdering Christians and Jews alike. Hate is hate, and murder is murder.
“I came to this event tonight to help shine a light on the tragic persecution and slaughter of Christians by ISIS and Islamic radicals throughout the Middle East. American leaders have been far too silent as to this horrific evil.
“But bigotry and hatred have no place in this discussion. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight.
“After just a few minutes, I had no choice. I told them that if you will not stand with Israel, if you will not stand with the Jews, then I will not stand with you. And then I walked off the stage.”
The fact that these Christians were Middle Eastern gave conservatives cover to cheer Cruz’s exit as “awesome,” but the point that Cruz missed in his labeling of the crowd as “anti-Semites” is that things aren’t always as simple as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” as even conservative Hot Air points out:
Many Christians in the Middle East take issue with Israeli military policy, which has made life for Palestinian Christians in their homeland very difficult, and driven many from their homes. “Israel’s policies have led to demographic pressure that’s made the West Bank and Gaza far more Muslim than in 1948,” explained one Middle East analyst.
The same lesson applies to conservatives freaking out over President Obama’s “ISIL is not Islamic” remark, for just as Cruz observed that groups like ISIS are “murdering Christians and Jews alike,” they’re mostly murdering other Muslims.