Sen. Ted Cruz walked off the stage and left an event hosted by a Christian organization mid-speech after being booed on Wednesday night following comments praising Israel.
The Texas Republican senator and tea party icon was a keynote speaker at a Washington summit hosted by In Defense of Christians, a group that focuses on persecuted Christian and minority communities in the Middle East.
According to several reports and a video taken by EWTN News Nightly and obtained The Daily Caller, Cruz upset many in the crowd by offering strong support for Israel, saying at one point: â€œChristians have no greater ally than Israelâ€ â€” a comment that drew boos.
In a subsequent statement to Breitbart News, Cruz said the crowd showed â€œa shameful display of bigotry and hatred.â€
The video appears to catch the moments just before Cruz left the stage.
â€œI will say this: Iâ€™m saddened to see that some here, not everyone, are so consumed with hate,â€ he said at the outset of the video, his comments prompting continued booing and yelling out from some members of the crowd. â€œI 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,â€ he said, walking off stage to scattered applause and boos.
Cruz told Breitbart that he intended to show how the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as well as other terrorist groups, threatened both Jews and Christians in the region.
â€œI told the attendees that those who hate Israel also hate America,â€ he said. â€œThat 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.â€
â€œAnti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight,â€ he added later.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, IDC President Toufic Baaklini blamed a select â€œfew politically motivated opportunistsâ€ for the incident.
â€œ[A] few politically motivated opportunists chose to divide a room that for more than 48 hours sought unity in opposing the shared threat of genocide,â€ he said in the statement.
â€œTonightâ€™s injection of politics when the focus should have been on unity and faith, momentarily played into the hands of a few who do not adhere to IDCâ€™s principles,â€ Baaklini later added. â€œThey were made no longer welcome.â€
In a subsequent statement released Thursday evening, Baaklini partially blamed Cruz for his comments directed at some in the crowd.
â€œSen. Cruz abruptly ended his remarks accusing some participants of being â€˜consumed with hate,â€™â€ Baaklini said, in reference to the comment the senator made moments before he left the stage. â€œThat was as unfortunate as the inappropriate reaction by a small number of attendees.â€