Photo Credit: Marcia Friedman
Sen. Ted Cruz

To understand Ted Cruz, the Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate who’s been steadily rising in the polls, one needs to know something about his background.

Rafael Cruz, Sen. Cruz’s father, was born and raised in pre-Castro Cuba. He arrived in the U.S. at age 18 with only $100 sewn under his clothing. He took a job as a dishwasher and put himself through the University of Texas. Grateful to be here, his strong values and love for this country steered his life.

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Heidi Cruz, the senator’s wife, who earned an MBA from Harvard and who’s worked as managing director at the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs (she’s presently on leave of absence), speaks admiringly about her husband on a personal level.

“What I want Americans to know about Ted are the qualities I fell in love with,” she said. “Ted is principled. He is a man who knows what he believes. He is also a person of great courage. He’s totally unflappable. And he’s very thoughtful. You see that in how he treats me, our daughters [ages 5 and 7], and his mother.”

She went on to say, “Ted believes this election is going to come down to trust – about whom Americans can trust to keep America safe and put our interests first and improve our economy. You can trust Ted. He’s always going to tell the truth and protect our constitutional liberties. I know he will, no matter what the political cost, no matter how hard it is, and no matter what other people are saying and doing.”

Earlier this month The Jewish Press spoke with Sen. Cruz, who articulated his intentions and commitments with conviction.

“I will immediately begin the process of moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” he said. “A lot of candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, have made that same promise. And yet, inevitably, when they get to the White House they don’t do it. And the reason is, their team comes to them and they say, ‘If we do this, it’s going to make other folks in the Middle East really, really unhappy.’ Well, if you haven’t noticed, they’re already pretty unhappy!”

When Secretary of State John Kerry used the words “apartheid” and “Israel” in the same sentence, Cruz didn’t hesitate to publicly defend the Jewish state.

“I went to the Senate floor and called for Kerry’s resignation,” he recalled. “And I would note that we need more senators, both Republicans and Democrats, who likewise call for accountability when the secretary of state uses language that undermines the safety and security of our allies.”

“We need,” he added, “to stand by our allies. There were warning signs when in the opening weeks the president of the United States sent back the bust of Winston Churchill. That was just a foreshadowing of things to come. And we have not seen an administration more antagonistic and hostile to the nation of Israel in the entire history of this country.”

Asked if he sees any “moral equivalence” between the Arabs’ aggression toward Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself, he responded: “What we see, at least right now, is terrorists like Hamas and Hizbullah or others who are attempting to murder innocent men, women, and children, and in response the nation of Israel is seeking to ensure the safety and security of innocent men, women, and children.”

Does he think Israelis have the right to build and settle anywhere in Israel?

“The question of settlement is a question for the nation of Israel. It is not our place to dictate where Israel will build settlements. It is not our place to dictate the terms of peace in Israel. Nobody wants peace more than Israel. The barrier to peace is not the elected leadership of Israel but rather it is Hamas, it is the Palestinian Authority, it is terrorists who refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”

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Marcia Friedman, a freelance writer, can be reached at mlf@marciafriedman.com.