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Ted Cruz speech to Christian group cut short by boos after Israel comments

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is defending his Wednesday night remarks at a Washington event -- comments which drew boos he attributed to "anti-Semitism...[rearing] its ugly head."

The senator was booed at an event hosted by a Christian group in Washington, leaving the stage after the hostility did not subside.

In a lengthy statement issued after the event, Cruz said he had "no choice" but to walk away after "a vocal and angry minority" criticized his comments in support of Israel.

Speaking at a gala hosted by In Defense Of Christians, an organization that seeks to raise awareness of the persecution of Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, Cruz defended Israel -- remarks which drew a sharp response from some in the audience.

Part of the events were captured on video by EWTN News Nightly's Jason Calvi. The Daily Caller reported that Cruz was booed after he said that "Christians have no greater ally than Israel."

"If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you," Cruz says in the video before walking off the stage.

“I told the attendees that those who hate Israel also hate America, that those who hate Jews also hate Christians, and that anyone who hates Israel and the Jewish people is not following the teachings of Christ," said Cruz in his statement issued after the event. "These statements were met with angry boos. I went on to tell the crowd that Christians in the Middle East have no better friend than Israel. That Christians can practice their faith free of persecution in Israel. And that ISIS, al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, along with their state sponsors in Syria and Iran, are all part of the same cancer, murdering Christians and Jews alike. Hate is hate, and murder is murder."

Cruz added, "Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight."

In a statement referencing a "disruption" at the dinner but not naming Cruz, In Defense of Christians President Toufic Baaklini said, "In this case, a few politically motivated opportunists chose to divide a room that for more than 48 hours sought unity in opposing the shared threat of genocide, faced not only by our Christian brothers and sisters, but our Jewish brothers and sisters and people of all other faiths and all people of good will."

It wasn't the first time Cruz has faced a restive crowd: He was heckled by protesters during a 2013 town hall in Texas.