Sen. Ted Cruz abruptly walked off stage at a gala for Middle Eastern Christians after he was booed for urging the audience to stand behind Israel and Jews.
The Texas Republican, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was the keynote speaker in Washington at the inaugural conference of a nonprofit group called In Defense of Christians.
“Christians have no greater ally than Israel,” Cruz said, prompting a first round of jeering, according to The Daily Caller. He left the stage a short time later, telling the audience “if you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, I will not stand with you. Good night and God bless.”
Cruz was speaking on the night that President Barack Obama announced his intention to start a broader campaign to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Toufic Baaklini, president of In Defense of Christians, which describes itself as committed to protecting Christians in the Middle East, said individuals who disrupted the dinner event “do not adhere” to the group’s principles.
“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, faced not only by our Christian brothers and sisters, but our Jewish brothers and sisters and people of all other faiths and all people of good will,” Baaklini said in a statement posted on the group’s website.
The incident was caught on video by Jason Calvi, a reporter for “EWTN News Nightly,” a program on the global Catholic broadcast network, according to The Daily Caller.