Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz told Orthodox Jewish supporters Thursday in Brooklyn that the Obama administration treats the Israeli prime minister “shamefully” and that rival Donald Trump displays “a profound lack of understanding”of Mideast politics.
The Texas senator spoke during a pair of campaign stops in which he sang Jewish songs and made Passover matzo.
Sporting a red “Cruz 2016” yarmulke proclaiming “I’m with Teddy” in Hebrew, Cruz suggested his presidency would be in lockstep with the right-leaning government of Israel headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, which has tangled with the White House.
“I give you my word, after these seven long years of an administration that turned a blind eye and a cold shoulder to Israel, in January 2017, that will end,” Cruz said to cheers.
Cruz has long been critical of Obama for last year’s nuclear peace negotiations with Iran, when Netanyahu made secret plans with the GOP leadership to address Congress, which the White House said breached diplomatic protocol. Cruz on Thursday called Netanyahu “Churchillian.”
Cruz, an evangelical Christian, has been courting the religious vote during the run-up to New York State’s April 19 GOP primary. According to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday, he lags both his GOP rivals for the nomination. Trump had 52 percent of the vote. Ohio Gov. John Kasich had 25 percent and Cruz was at 17 percent.
Cruz’s appearances Thursday in Brighton Beach were in Trump’s shadow: The synagogue where he spoke and the Chabad matzo factory he visited were across from Trump Village, the middle-class apartment complex that Trump’s father, Fred, built.
On Thursday, as Cruz’s supporters chanted “Jews for Cruz,” Cruz criticized Trump for promising neutrality in brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We are not neutral between our friends and our enemies,” Cruz said to cheers. “We are not neutral between police officers and bank robbers.”