Say what you will about Ted Cruz. The senator does his homework.
More than a few heads nodded approval at last Sunday night’s Zionist Organization of America dinner when Cruz noted that the Hebrew month of Kislev had just begun.
“The month of Hanukkah, a month of miracles,” Cruz went on, recalling the Maccabees’ victory over an oppressive Greek king back in the day. “The few defeated the many. The righteous defeated the unrighteous.”
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?
Among the Zionist crowd, Cruz was already well loved for being staunchly pro-Israel, and very tough on Iran, Hamas, the Palestinians and especially Barack Obama. Dayenu, as Jews say on another holiday, Passover, as they list the miracles that delivered their ancestors from Pharoah. It means, that would have been enough.
“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, said after Cruz’s speech. “Because God is on Israel’s side. He understands that.”
Cruz drew a huge ovation as he recounted an episode two months earlier that many in the crowd had already seen on video: when Cruz walked out on a group of Christian Arabs who booed and heckled his pro-Israel stance.
The day before that appearance, a news report revealed that the summit’s underwriter had backed a Lebanese politician allied with Hezbollah, the terrorist group. Cruz recounted Sunday night that he scrapped his schedule to spend four or five hours debating with aides whether to back out of the appearance. He decided to go ahead, to shine a spotlight on the persecution of both Christians and Jews in the Middle East.
“But if I was going to go and stand with people who might be defenders of Hezbollah, there was not going to be one whit of ambiguity about where I stood,” Cruz said. So, he recounted, when he asserted that “those who hate Israel hate America,” and the boos began, “I had no choice but to say, ‘If you will not stand with Israel, and you will not stand with the Jews, then I will not stand with you.’”
At this point in New York, the chants began: “Run, Ted, run!”
Among those standing in ovation was casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a GOP megadonor who met privately with Cruz the next day. Adelson, who largely bankrolled Newt Gingrich’s 2012 bid for president, reportedly found Cruz too right-wing for his taste but clearly welcomed his Zionism.
“His time will come,” said one dinner attendee, Ferne Hassan, a pro-Israel activist from Union, N.J. “If it’s not in 2016, it will come.”
Cruz’s ardor for Israel — and his walkout from that Christian Arab summit — cemented the admiration of Harvey Friedman, a Zionist group board member from Miami.
“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, said he’d love to see Cruz as president “because I love my children and my grandchildren and I want America to be restored to its former greatness.”
He quoted Genesis: “‘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.”
This article was published by the Dallas Morning News and may be found here.