You already know how Romney in London went. So it should be no shock that when he headed to Israel, this happened:
Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who suggested his comments were racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East. His campaign later said his remarks were mischaracterized.
Yes, that's the Romney campaign whining about being taken out of context. Here is what the fuss was about:
"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.
And what explains the gap?
Romney said the economic history of the world has shown that "culture makes all the difference."
"And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence."
Romney's argument prompted a swift rebuke from the Palestinian National Authority to Romney (who got his facts wrong: the per-capita GDP gap is 20:1, not 2:1):
"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."
Indeed, not only do Israelis not make this claim, but one Israeli professor pointed out that Romney's remark could be seen as playing into anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money.
It's true that Israel has logged tremendous achievements, said Abraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Inter-Disciplinary Center outside of Tel Aviv. But "you can understand this remark in several ways," he added. "You can say it's anti-Semitic. `Jews and money.'"
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment