This AJT column is part of a series giving a supporter of each of the remaining presidential candidates a chance to pitch the Jewish community on that candidate. Read the others here.
By Scott Italiaander
Although American Jews care about a lot of issues, the U.S.-Israel relationship still stands out as the one that galvanizes Jews across the political spectrum. While these days, sadly, a significant minority of liberal Jews openly identify more with Israel’s enemies than with Israel, most American Jews still support a strong and vigorous Jewish state and desire a president who is unequivocal in his support of our only true ally in the Middle East.
As a Jewish Republican, I am interested not just in supporting a candidate who enthusiastically claims to be pro-Israel, but someone whose political record suggests he means it. By that standard, none would be as principled and unwavering in his commitment to the Jewish state as Ted Cruz.
Cruz supports strengthening the military alliance between the United States and Israel, advocates cutting off all taxpayer dollars flowing to the Palestinian Authority, and promises to cut financial support to the United Nations if it continues its openly anti-Israel bias.
Unlike the self-styled front-runner for the Republican nomination, Cruz would not be neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; he would be an unapologetic ally of Israel. As an immediate signal that he means business, on Day 1 of his presidency Cruz would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize it as the “eternal, undivided capital of Israel.”
These are not just talking points to Cruz. According to his father, Pastor Rafael Cruz (who spoke in Atlanta the other week), Ted’s views on Israel are rooted in his strong Christian faith and familiarity with the Old Testament. He has also visited the Holy Land several times as a senator.
There can be no doubt that Cruz is passionate and resolute when he invokes G-d’s promise to Abraham in Genesis: “I will bless those who bless you.”
While Marco Rubio and Donald Trump have expressed solidarity with Israel, Ted Cruz has a proven history of backing up his rhetoric with action. And Ted has a public record of not changing his positions in the face of political pressure.
There are numerous examples of Ted backing his words with actions. While serving as Texas’ solicitor general between 2003 and 2008, Cruz successfully led legal and policy fights on positions he had espoused for years. He sought to overturn Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban as an infringement of Second Amendment rights, defended successfully the constitutionality of public Ten Commandments displays, and successfully sued to block the enforcement of international court rulings seeking to overturn Texas state law.
Since he became a senator in 2013, Cruz has resisted tremendous political pressure by the leaders of his own party and led legislative and procedural fights in pursuit of the principles he ran on during his Senate election campaign. These efforts included his filibuster as part of an effort to defund Obamacare and his bid to prevent the Senate from considering the Gang of Eight immigration compromise between moderates of both parties in 2013. He has also been a steadfast champion of religious liberty, as his legislative record shows.
Cruz’s legislative efforts on behalf of Israel are impressive for a first-term senator. He has either sponsored or supported efforts to condemn Hamas, to prohibit negotiations with Iran unless it recognized the Jewish state, to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, to condemn the labeling of Israeli products by the European Union and to fund Israeli missile defense. He opposed Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense for his history of undermining U.S.-Israel relations. He has also penned numerous op-eds in support of Israel and against the Iran deal.
Ted Cruz has consistently demonstrated that he means what he says. Senators often are accused of debating much and accomplishing little. In only his first term as senator, Cruz has amassed an impressive record of action in those matters of principle that he has long espoused.
There seems little doubt that should Ted Cruz ascend to the presidency, he will resist whatever pressures are brought to bear against him and will stand firmly and unequivocally with Israel.