They gave him a thunderous ovation. They chanted “Run, Ted, run!”
In recent days Sen. Ted Cruz received a warm embrace by the crowd he addressed during a Zionist Organization of America dinner at a New York City hotel.
Cruz, a conservative Texas Republican, has emerged as a staunch defender of Israel. Just two months ago he made headlines when he lectured hecklers at a Christian Arab event – where he was keynote speaker – telling them anyone who hates Israel also hates America, and then walking off the stage.
At the dinner in New York, Cruz recounted that event, generating cheers from the crowd.
He also wowed them with his observation that the Hebrew month of Kislev was beginning.
A few jaws went slightly agape. This Cuban-American tea partier, son of an evangelical minister — he knows from Kislev and the Festival of Lights?
“The month of Hanukkah, a month of miracles,” Cruz said, referring to the Maccabees’ victory over an oppressive Greek king. “The few defeated the many. The righteous defeated the unrighteous.”
The Dallas Morning News noted: “A few jaws went slightly agape. This Cuban-American tea partier, son of an evangelical minister — he knows from Kislev and the Festival of Lights?”
After Cruz’s speech, some audience members shared their impressions of the senator, considered a potential presidential candidate in 2016 – hence, the “Run, Ted, run” chants among the New York crowd.
“He’s aligned with the Jewish people. He’s aligned with the Jewish calendar. He understands Jewish history. He understands that Jews, even though they have small numbers, persevere and are victorious,” Len Getz, a Philadelphia accountant and board member of the Zionist group, was quoted as saying in the News. “Because God is on Israel’s side. He understands that.”
Some in the audience conceded that Cruz is a bit too far-right for their taste, though they respect his Zionism.
But many clearly were won over.
“His time will come,” the News quoted Ferne Hassan, a pro-Israel activist, as saying. “If it’s not in 2016, it will come.”
Harvey Friedman, a Zionist group board member, said Cruz’s walkout from the Christian Arab conference and his consistent support for Israel had won his support for the senator.
“This is a stand-up guy,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of politicians you can say that about. He isn’t wishy-washy.”
Gene Shusman, another board member, told the News that he’d love to see a President Ted Cruz “because I love my children and my grandchildren and I want America to be restored to its former greatness.”
Quoting Genesis, Shusman said: “‘Those who bless Israel, I will bless.’ And Obama and the Democrats have stuck their fingers in the eye of God. And he’s watching. Do you think Santa Claus watches Dec. 25? You wait till we get up there [to heaven]. They’re not going to get up there.”