Of all the charges levied against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for president of the United States, the one that accuses him of being an anti-Semite will have to enter the history books as the most brazen. Joanna Rothkopf, writing in the Forward on Sunday, opined that, “To many Jews, Ted Cruz’s attack on Donald Trump’s ‘New York values’ sounds vaguely anti-Semitic.” A Saturday Night Live skit had an actor portraying Cruz say, “Believe me, if I could say ‘liberal Jews’ I would. Even Jake Tapper, who should have known better, asked Donald Trump, “There are some observers out there who think that when Ted Cruz talks about ‘New York Values,’ he’s talking about something else, in their view, ‘ethnics,’ Jews. What do you think he means?”
Anyone who has followed the meteoric career of Ted Cruz, ever since he appeared on the national political scene in 2012, would find the charge laughable. No warmer supporter of the State of Israel exists in American politics. Politico noted last April that, “Ted Cruz loves Orthodox Jews — and they love him back.” Cruz has aggressively pursued Jewish support for his political aspirations. Religious Jews share Cruz’s stance on social issues, leaving aside support for Israel.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a personal friend of Cruz’s, relates a story about Cruz and the great writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
“About a year ago I took him to meet Elie Wiesel at the Nobel laureate’s home. A gifted orator, in front of Wiesel Cruz suddenly could not speak. He was quiet for a good few minutes. I asked him, in Wiesel’s presence, what was wrong. He told me he was remembering his father’s incarceration in Cuba and could scarcely imagine how even that compared to Auschwitz and the Nazi concentration camps. He spoke of the Holocaust and the suffering of the Jewish people. He was clearly moved beyond words to be in the presence of the world’s most famous survivor and the greatest living Jewish personality.”
Given these facts, why are Cruz’s enemies accusing the man from Texas of anti-Semitism? The best explanation is that the gambit is a variant of a tactic used by the late and unlamented Lyndon Johnson, who once proposed accusing a political opponent of bestiality. When told that the charge was absurd, LBJ acknowledged the fact but opined that he just wanted to hear the opponent deny it. The idea is that the charge, no matter how untrue, would sow doubt in people who might be on the fence.
Unlike with LBJ, the smear against Cruz is likely to backfire, showing as it does the growing desperation of the senator’s enemies.