With New York State voting today and other Northeast states coming up soon on the primary calendar, I want to take a moment to speak directly to both my fellow Jewish conservatives and all those who care about issues pertaining to the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
Quite simply put: I am a hopeless political junkie who cares deeply about both U.S.-Israel relations and the need to combat rising global anti-Semitism, and there is arguably no single politician on the national stage who has done more to advance these causes over the past three and a half years than has Sen. Ted Cruz. He is a true, sincere friend of both the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
It actually goes back much further than just his time in the U.S. Senate. Cruz’s love and admiration for the “other Lone Star State,” as I frequently call Israel, began when he was but a boy. Conservative Review recently reported on how enduring a memory the Israel Defense Forces’ famous Operation Entebbe proved itself to be in the mind of a young Cruz:
For Cruz, who attended an elementary school in Houston that was about half Jewish — he grew up wishing his family would celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas — the interest in Israel began in 1976, he said, as a very young Cruz learned of the Entebbe raid, an Israeli military operation to save airline passengers held hostage in an airport terminal in Uganda. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother Yoni was killed leading that raid.
‘It struck me as a profoundly Texan approach to an act of terrorism,’ said Cruz, who is an admirer of the hawkish prime minister. That tough response appeared to stem from ‘a foreign policy approach driven from strength, which I often wish American foreign policy more closely resembled.’
As Cruz matured, his positions have naturally spawned from that starting point. As a proponent of classical Reaganite American exceptionalism and an adamant opponent of the global jihad, Cruz has come to appreciate Israel — the West’s “man on the spot” on the very frontline of the global campaign against radical Islamic terrorism — as amongst the most natural of America’s geopolitical allies. While Cruz’s love of Israel predates September 11, 2001, then, the jihad coming to America’s shores has dovetailed Cruz’s firmly pro-Israel sympathies with much of mainstream American (and most especially, mainstream conservative) opinion. Cruz’s evangelical Christianity provides him with a theological affinity for the Jewish people, and as a religious liberty stalwart he surely appreciates that liberalized and religiously pluralistic Israel is by far the safest place in all of the Middle East for persecuted Christians.
In summer 2014, when Hamas kidnapped three young Jewish Israeli teens in Judea and Samaria, Cruz spoke on the Senate floor about how “the full weight of the world should bear down on Hamas to give them back safely and immediately.” When the discovery of the teens’ murdered bodies led to renewed hostilities between Israel and the Islamic supremacist jihadi group Hamas, Cruz stood unequivocally with Israel and even sponsored legislation to provide a $5 million reward for information leading to the killers’ capture. Later that summer, when Hamas rocket fire near Ben Gurion Airport led the FAA to cancel flights into Israel, Cruz passionately protested the FAA’s de facto economic boycott of Israel — at the height of hostilities with Hamas, right when U.S. support was most crucial.
Cruz also took to the pages of The Washington Times that summer to highlight Israeli hospitals’ incredible humanity, right in the middle of its conflict with Hamas, in treating injured foreigners:
If you want to judge a nation, look at how it treats its most vulnerable civilians. Hospitals are a good place to start.
Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, is housed in a converted British army barracks. Some 126 miles north is Israel’s Ziv Medical Center in Zefat…
Hamas, which controls Gaza, is using the civilian population as human shields. The terrorist group has placed its missiles in schools and mosques and, even more deplorably, burrowed its command center underneath the al-Shifa hospital…
During the past three years of the Syrian civil war, Ziv has treated more than 1,000 Syrians injured in that conflict — all free of charge.
In a visit to Ziv this spring, I met the social worker whose job it is to explain to the patients who wake up grievously injured and surrounded by Israelis that they are not in hell, but that the people who they have been told from birth are the devil are, in fact, working very hard to heal them.
I met a Syrian child who had lost three limbs but has been fitted with revolutionary prosthetics and will, God willing, walk again…
The contrast in this tale of two hospitals could not be more clear: Hamas exploits their medical facilities as a human shield to launch terrorist operations against Israel, while Israel uses theirs to provide cutting-edge medical care to people whose government’s avowed goal is to destroy the Jewish state. Hamas‘ actions are a war crime. Israel’s are one of the great, unsung humanitarian missions on the planet.
In September 2014, Cruz spoke in D.C. at the “In Defense of Christians” summit, which was intended to shine a national light on the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Cruz’s team found out late that the audience would include some anti-Zionist Christians and Hezbollah sympathizers, but Cruz made a conscientious decision to continue full-throttle ahead. When his pro-Israel talking points elicited boos from the crowd, Cruz did precisely what he has done over and over again as a U.S. Senator: he stood unapolgetically on principle.
‘Those who hate Israel hate America,’ he continued, as the boos and calls for him to leave the stage got louder. ‘Those who hate Jews hate Christians. If those in this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps. 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.’
‘If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews,’ he said. ‘Then I will not stand with you. Good night, and God bless.’ And with that, he walked off the stage.
In December 2014, Cruz was recognized at the annual Zionist Organization of America gala for his staunch, unbending support for the Jewish people and for the State of Israel. After being introduced by his former law school professor, Alan Dershowitz, Cruz gave a moving speech:
But one month later, Cruz was at it again. In response to rumors that the Obama political operation was interfering in Israel’s upcoming elections, Cruz and Rep. Lee Zeldin (the only current Jewish Republican in Congress) co-authored a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to ask if Obama political operatives had launched an undercover political campaign against Bibi Netanyahu. The letter evinced Cruz’s characteristic moral clarity on all things Middle East:
‘Has President Obama launched a political campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu and his representatives?’ Sen. Cruz asked. ‘This administration’s relentless harassment of Israel is utterly incomprehensible. The Islamic Republic of Iran is pursuing the deadliest weapons on the planet, and there can be no doubt that their first target will be Israel, followed by the United States. This administration should be focusing its animosity on the very real enemies we face, not on our staunch allies.’
In March 2015, when Bibi Netanyahu — the “Churchill of our time,” as I have called him — delivered his joint address to the Congress to argue against the impending Iran nuclear deal, Cruz timed the visit to coincide with his hosting a panel with iconic Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to highlight the deal’s manifold flaws. Since formally becoming a presidential candidate, he famously co-hosted with Tea Party Patriots a prominent anti-Iran deal rally in D.C. last September, alongside Donald Trump. There is a strong argument that Cruz’s foreign policy, which falls between the interventionist neoconservatives and the Paulite isolationists but makes abdundantly clear its commitment to defeating the jihad, is the precisely right approach for both the U.S. and for Israel.
Most recently, Cruz has sponsored legislation that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood — of which Hamas is the mere Palestinian branch — as a terrorist organization, has cited reports of the Palestinian Liberation Organization funding terrorism in order to argue to Sec. Kerry that the PLO’s office in D.C. should have its waiver revoked, and has vocally opposed the Obama Adminstration’s discriminatory labeling of Israeli products made in Judea and Samaria. His AIPAC speech this March also hit all the right notes:
Cruz is additionally a longtime stalwart on the religious liberty front, and his unquestioned constitutionalist credentials should further assuage any doubts about what kind of principled, pro-religious liberty jurists he would nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court. Cruz understands that the “Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israel is “is premised on a lie and it is anti-Semitism, plain and simple.” He supports the severing of all federal funding to universities that engage in BDS, and is lukewarm at best on funding the United Nations while that pathetic morally relativistic body continues its institutionalized Arab supremacy and blatant anti-Semitism.
All in all, as Cruz senior adviser and Orthodox Jew Nick Muzin recently wrote, “not a day goes by that Senator Cruz does not think about the Jewish people and Israel.” It all ties back to Cruz’s own life story, as Muzin explains:
People often ask me why the senator focuses so much on these issues. I believe he relates to the struggles and hopes of the Jewish people because his father also fled oppression in a foreign country and came to America seeking freedom and opportunity. While he would never compare what his father went through to what the Jews suffered in the Holocaust, he always quotes his father as saying: ‘When I fled Cuba, at least we had somewhere to go. If we lose America, where do we go?’ The senator believes that Israel, like America, is an important beacon for hope and freedom.
Ted Cruz is a genuine friend of both the Jewish people and the Jewish state. He is almost assuredly the most philo-Semitic and genuinely pro-Israel candidate to ever seek the Republican presidential nomination. I am immensely proud to be part of #JewsForCruz, and I urge all my fellow Jewish and pro-Israel conservatives to join me in standing with Ted.