In Defense of Christians, the nonprofit organization that has made protecting Christians in the Middle East its mission, challenged media reports Friday that Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was booed offstage at their inaugural Summit Gala Dinner Wednesday for supporting Israel.
A 30-second YouTube clip from the dinner shows Cruz declaring to a restive audience: "I will say this, that I am saddened to see that some here, not everyone, but some here, are so consumed with hate …" At the mention of the word hate, guests at the gala became loud enough to drown out portions of Cruz's voice.
He continued: "I will say this: if you will not stand with Israel, then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you."
Cruz is then shown in the video waving and walking off the stage.
He later released a statement saying: "Tonight in Washington should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself 'In Defense of Christians.' Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred."
Cruz added: "When I spoke in strong support of Israel and the Jewish people, who are being persecuted and murdered by the same vicious terrorists who are also slaughtering Christians, many Christians in the audience applauded. But, sadly, a vocal and angry minority of attendees at the conference tried to shout down my expression of solidarity with Israel."
Several media organizations reported the next day that he was booed offstage for supporting Israel.
In a release Friday, however, IDC president Toufic Baaklini said he was not booed, and the attendees at the gala simply wanted him to focus his comments on the Christians in the Middle East rather than Israel.
"Senator Cruz was not 'booed off stage' last night," said Baaklini in the release. "He was asked to focus on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East under the theme of religious freedom and human dignity. Some participants inappropriately shouted, 'talk about the Christians' when Cruz refused to do so. Sadly, there was a small, but vocal, anti-Israel element in the room. Those individuals do not represent the views of IDC."
"In fact, there were many more people shouting down the hecklers than there were hecklers. The hecklers who did not remove themselves were removed by security," he noted.
"Senator Cruz abruptly ended his remarks accusing some participants of being 'consumed with hate.' That was as unfortunate as the inappropriate reaction by a small number of attendees," he added.
The organization announced in another release Thursday that five Christian Patriarchs representing Christian communities in the Middle East were able to meet with President Barack Obama and his National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
"We want to thank Obama at this critical moment in history for meeting with the representatives of these Christian communities from the Middle East who face suffering and hardship for professing their religious beliefs," said Baaklini.