A Republican lawmaker said Thursday that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) deliberately made “outrageous and incendiary” remarks when he urged a group of Arab Christians to “stand with Israel” at a conference this week.
“I support Israel, but what Senator Cruz did was outrageous and incendiary,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) told the Washington Post. “He showed a true lack of sensitivity for the people he was speaking to, especially the religious leaders who were there. It was a political speech, inappropriate and, overall, an uncomfortable moment.”
Dent, who represents many constituents of Syrian and Lebanese descent, told the Post that he was sitting in the front row Wednesday night at the In Defense of Christians gala in Washington. Cruz delivered the keynote address at the event, but walked off the stage after being jeered by the audience.
“I am saddened to see that some here, not everyone, but some here, are so consumed with hate,” Cruz as the crowd booed his speech. “I will say this. If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you.”
The Texas senator later issued a statement that blamed anti-Semitism for the hostile reception.
“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,” he said, as quoted by Business Insider. “But bigotry and hatred have no place in this discussion. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight.”
Dent said he thought Cruz was speaking to an audience that would later watch video of the speech rather than to the Arab Christians in the room.
“He was speaking to people outside of the building,” Dent told the Washington Post. “It was a willful and deliberate confrontation, and very self-serving.”