Cruz Campaign Clarifies Controversial Endorsement

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has come under fire for associating himself with a controversial Christian evangelical leader who is notorious for having said that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews “for not accepting Jesus as the Messiah.”

Last month, the Cruz campaign issued a press release announcing the endorsement of evangelical leader Mike Bickle, the founder and director of the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer. According to a report by Times of Israel, in recent years, Bickle has delivered numerous sermons that predict new Holocaust-like conditions for Jews if they do not recognize Jesus as their Messiah. He also suggested, based on a passage from Jeremiah 16:16, that Adolf Hitler was sent by God to murder more than six million Jews.

Cruz, seeking to boost his candidacy among evangelical voters, said in a statement that he is “grateful for Mike’s dedication to call a generation of young people to prayer and spiritual commitment,” adding, “With the support of Mike and many other people of faith, we will fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith.”

On Tuesday, the National Jewish Democratic Council called on Cruz to disassociate himself from Bickle and clarify his position. “It is profoundly troubling that Sen. Ted Cruz proudly trumpeted the endorsement of such a controversial figure who holds such offensive views,” the NJDC said in a statement. “In announcing Bickle’s support, Sen. Cruz said, ‘we will fight the good fight, finish the course.’ We call on Sen. Cruz to clarify his position and explain why he chose to highlight someone who is ‘notorious for having said that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews for not accepting Jesus as the Messiah.’ ”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also called on Cruz to repudiate Bickle’s rhetoric. “Mike Bickle’s views about why God allowed Jews to be killed in the Holocaust, as expressed in a 2011 speech, are abhorrent, intolerant and unacceptable,” a statement by ADL read. “We assume that Senator Cruz accepted Bickle’s endorsement without knowing about these comments. We hope that when these comments are called to the Senator’s attention, he will clearly and forcefully reject Bickle’s hateful ideas.”

In an email to Jewish Insider, Cruz’s senior advisor, Nick Muzin, insisted that Bickle is “only one of the hundreds who have endorsed us.” According to Muzin, “My understanding is that he was paraphrasing the words of the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah. I know that he has made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of his mission.”

The Republican presidential hopeful’s advisor went on to tout Cruz’s record on Israel and his warm relationship with the American Jewish community. “No one has a better record than Senator Cruz when it comes to standing with Israel, fighting against radical Islamic terror, and combating global anti-Semitism. That is why he has been endorsed by over 70 rabbis and Jewish leaders from across the country, including leaders of major Jewish organizations,” said Muzin. “Last summer, Senator Cruz brought together evangelical faith leaders with Jewish organizations to try and stop the Iran nuclear deal. We are proud of the support we are building in both communities and see them as complementary, and part of our larger goal of restoring Judeo-Christian leadership values to America and the world.”

But that clarification was not satisfying enough for the NJDC. “The Cruz campaign’s response from criticism from NJDC and the ADL of one of its feature endorsees falls woefully short,” the Jewish Democratic group said. “We remain troubled that rather than distance himself and refute Bickle’s offensive rhetoric, the Cruz campaign has doubled down, merely restating the senator’s position on Israel and attempting to minimize Pastor Bickle’s role as an endorser. We call on Sen. Cruz’s campaign to speak clearly when it comes to such an offensive statement.”

“Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz must clarify if he stands with Pastor Mike Bickle and his belief that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews for not accepting Jesus as the Messiah,” the NJDC demanded.

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