Yesterday, in one of the stranger moments of the earliest stages of the 2016 Republican nominating season, Ted Cruz, a Republican Senator from Texas and likely presidential aspirant, got booed off the stage at an event in Washington hosted by an organization called In Defense of Christians for proclaiming his support for Israel and the Jewish people. As Cruz left the stage, he told the crowd, “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Good night, and God bless.”
It is reasonably evident that incident will only benefit Cruz. In today’s Republican Party it is impossible to be too strongly pro-Israel, and there’s no better way to demonstrate that support than by being booed offstage for loudly and unambiguously proclaiming it. The line that had drawn the boos from the crowd was “Christians have no greater ally than Israel. Those who hate Israel hate America.”
Cruz could not have been surprised, or disappointed, by the response his comments met, but the event is nonetheless strange on several levels. First, Cruz’s deeply Christian rejection of anti-Semitism: “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,” is admirable and welcome.
The politics of this, however, are striking. If the Republicans make big gains with Jewish voters in 2016, they might get 40% of those voters — that’s about the high-
Lincoln Mitchell is the national political correspondent for the Observer. Follow him on Twitter @LincolnMitchell