An extraordinary thing happened on Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. More than one thousand people were gathered for a dinner in honor of the newly formed organization In Defense of Christians.
It should have been a victorious, celebratory moment―and for a short time it was.
The spirit was jubilant as we all took in the fact that at last the crisis affecting Middle East Christians had hit the mainstream. Many of us have been toiling away for years on this issue, happy if we could get ten people in a room to hear our case. Here we were, with Patriarchs and prelates from 12 different countries, and earlier in the day no less than 17 different members of Congress had addressed the gathering. It was an evening to celebrate.
Then U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) came on stage. He was there to give the keynote speech, and this was to be the crowning moment. Senator Cruz opened with these words:
Good evening. Today we are gathered at a time of extraordinary challenge. Tonight we are all united in defense of Christians. Tonight we are all united in defense of Jews. Tonight we are all united in defense of people of good faith who are standing together against those who would persecute and murder those who dare to disagree with their religious teachings.
“Oh no,” someone said quietly at my table. “Don’t go there, Cruz.”
Lebanon and Israel have been engaged in a long-standing conflict, so to mention Jews was to step on an obvious land mine. More than that, word had gone out several months before that the funders of the event were associated with Hezbollah. At first, it was just word of mouth based on sources inside Lebanon.
Then a Syrian-American activist named Frank Ghadry wrote about it, but he subsequently retracted his article and almost all traces of it have been deleted from the web. But you can read it here on Facebook.
Within the NGO community, concerns were expressed about the Hezbollah rumors, but when the Ghadry article was retracted, it seemed these might be just rumors after all.