Cruz campaign goes on defense in Bickle pickle

Supporting Israel is 'a central part' of Pastor Mike Bickle's mission, says campaign, after controversy over pastor's Holocaust statement.

Tags: ADL NJDC Ted Cruz
Gil Ronen ,

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign defended on Thursday an endorsement from evangelical Pastor Mike Bickle, whose statements regarding Biblical prophecies about the persecution of Jews aroused the ire of some Jewish leaders.

In a sermon in 2004, Bickle relied on the Book of Jeremiah (16:16), which says: "'I'm about to send many fishermen,' declares God, 'and they'll catch them. Afterwards, I'll send for many hunters and they'll hunt for them on every mountain and hill and in the crevices of the rocks.'"

Bickle interpreted this as meaning that God would give Jews a chance to convert to Christianity but “raise up the hunters” against those who refuse to accept Jesus, and called Adolf Hitler “the most famous hunter in recent history.” 

In other sermons, Bickle relied on the Book of Zecharia to predict that the world's 15 million Jews will gather in Israel, but two thirds of them will be put in prison camps and killed and the remaining third will convert to Christianity.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the National Democratic Jewish Committee (NDJC) both demanded clarifications from Cruz after the story broke.

In an email to the Jewish Insider, Cruz’s senior adviser Nick Muzin insisted that Bickle is “only one of the hundreds who have endorsed us.”

“My understanding is that he was paraphrasing the words of the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah," said Cruz's adviser. "I know that he has made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of his mission.”

'No one has a better record' on Israel

Muzin went on to stress Cruz’s record on Israel and his close ties 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," he noted. "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.”

The 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 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 insisted.

The founder and director of the International House of Prayer, Bickle also runs the Israel Mandate project whose mission, according to its website, is to "mobilize intercessors in the Church to pray for Israel, and to stand with and encourage Messianic believers in Israel."

Cruz announced Bickle's endorsement of his candidacy last month, writing on his website, "With the support of Mike and many other people of faith, we will fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith."