You can say this about Ted Cruz — he doesn't play to the crowd.
The Texas senator and Tea Party favorite made an appearance at a gala hosted by In Defense of Christians, a group that raises awareness of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. It did not go well.
Cruz was booed after saying that "Christians have no greater ally than Israel." The heckling continued as he dug deeper, and he eventually left the stage.
Take a look:
Before that video starts rolling, per the Daily Caller, Cruz told the crowd that "[t]hose who hate Israel hate America" and "[t]hose who hate Jews hate Christians."
"If you hate the Jewish people, you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ," he said. "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."
That's when In Defense of Christians president Toufic Baaklini came onstage to urge the hecklers to quiet down, to no avail. Cruz exited with, "If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Good night and God bless."
As the Daily Caller notes, many Middle Eastern Christians don't have the same political dedication to Israel that many evangelical Christians in the U.S. do. While Israel allows Christians to practice freely, many in the region feel its foreign policy alienates Palestinian Christians.
In a statement after the event, Cruz attributed the reaction to anti-Semitism on the part of the crowd, telling Breitbart News that it was "a shameful display of bigotry and hatred."
Slate explains that the gala was already starting to cause some controversy on the right before Cruz's speech, with the Washington Free Beacon reporting that it would "feature pro-Hezbollah and pro-Assad speakers." Using his speech to call for support for Israel — and walking off stage after the boos came — allowed Cruz to reinforce his credentials without being associated with any of the event's other speakers in the minds of conservative press and voters.