So, does the highlighted statement [emphasis mine] disqualify Romney for the presidency?:
So far the roughest moment on the Republican presidential candidate’s road trip came after he said that some things about the Olympics were “disconcerting.” That angered Brits, including the mayor of London.
“You know, I was referring to press reports before I even got to London that suggested that the organizing committee was having some challenges,” said Romney.
“I was there for two days,” he added. “The games were carried out without a hitch. So, as far as I’m able to tell, despite the challenges as any organizing committee faces, they were able to organize games that have been so far so good, picture perfect.”
“I tend to tell people what I actually believe,” said Romney when asked if he would want to change his words if he could go back and answer the questions again.
And now of course, since Romney is in Israel, a country more predisposed to like him, the left is all over some remarks he made in a fundraiser there that are “RACIST!!” and have outraged the perpetually-outraged Palestinians:
“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, 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.
Romney said some economic histories have theorized 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.” He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.
Palestinian reaction was swift and pointed.
“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.
Yes, of course; it’s all the Israelis’ fault. Everybody knows how well the Arab/Muslim inhabitants of Palestine (they didn’t call themselves Palestinians at the time) were doing before* the increase in Jewish emigration to the area beginning in the latter part of the 19th century and continuing on into the 20th. Everyone knows about the thriving Arab economies in lands that are not “occupied” by Jews, and that even if it weren’t for their oil they’d still be the economic miracle stories of the world. And of course everybody knows that the Palestinians are coveted residents of the various Arab countries that have vied for their presence for many decades because of their economic prowess in whatever country they happen to enter. Jordan and Lebanon in particular have been happy to welcome the Palestinians, whom they consider quite an asset, and those countries have been eager to have even more of them back, but so far the Palestinians have cruelly refused to listen to their blandishments.
And have you noticed how “culture” has now become synonymous with “race,” so that speaking negatively of a culture—even if what is said is true (or perhaps especially if what is said is true)—becomes defined as racist, as though whatever a culture might be is embedded in the genes of its people?
Now I understand that diplomacy requires that a leader not always say what he/she really thinks, or even close to it. But at this point, diplomacy has been an utter failure with the Palestinians, who tend to look on any concessions as evidence of a weakness that can be exploited. But despite this history, and despite the fact that the other Arab/Muslim countries of the Middle East hate, fear, and use them, the Palestinians remain the darlings of the left in the west, which believes their tender sensibilities must always be assuaged.
Here’s some context for Romney’s remarks:
As he has at home, Romney in Jerusalem cited a book titled, “Guns, Germs and Steel,” that suggests the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there.
“And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here,” Romney said, before citing another book, “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” by former Harvard professor David Landes.
This book, Romney said in Jerusalem, concludes that “if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.”
The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.
Romney, seated next to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson at the head of the table, told donors that he had read books and relied on his own business experience to understand why the difference in economic disparity between countries is so great.
But shhh, these things cannot be mentioned. Nor can we whisper of incidents such as this one. It would spoil the narrative:
Some 200 dunams of greenhouse space in the Gaza Strip were ransacked recently by dozens of armed Palestinians and residents of Khan Yunis.
International donors had purchased the greenhouses from evacuated Gush Katif settlers for the benefit of the Palestinians.
According to Palestinian and international sources involved in running the greenhouses, the armed robbers belonged to two militias, the Assistance Committees and the Popular Army, affiliated with former Palestinian ruling party Fatah. These militias had been hired by the Palestinian Authority to guard both the ruins of the former settlements and the greenhouses, which were all under cultivation. But instead of guarding the greenhouses, the guards decided to rob them.
In general, the Palestinians and their camp-followers have been very happy with President Obama’s attitude towards the region, and there is no question that, even had Romney mouthed a few more platitudes in Israel to placate them, it would not have made a particle of difference.
[NOTE: *See this for more information about the earlier history of the region regarding economics and culture. Here’s an excerpt:
The Report of the 1937 Palestine Royal Commission quotes what it believed to be a truthful and unbiased description of the Maritime Plain as it existed in 1913:
“The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts…no orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached [the Jewish village of] Yabna [Yavne]….Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen….The ploughs used were of wood….The yields were very poor….The sanitary conditions in the village were horrible. Schools did not exist….The western part, towards the sea, was almost a desert. . . . The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.”(Cmd. 5479 p. 233)
The Report also drew on contemporary descriptions of the economic situation in Palestine, written in the 1830s and supplied to the Commission by Lewis French, the British Director of Development:
“We found it inhabited by fellahin who lived in mud hovels and suffered severely from the prevalent malaria…. Large areas…were uncultivated… The fellahin, if not themselves cattle thieves, were always ready to harbour these and other criminals. The individual plots…changed hands annually. There was little public security, and the fellahin’s lot was an alternation of pillage and blackmail by their neighbours, the Bedouin.” (Cmd. 5479 pp. 259-260)]
[ADDENDUM: Paul Mirengoff of Powerline says that offending Palestinians is step in the right direction:
Palestinian leaders may not be able to handle the truth, but that shouldn’t deter our leaders from expressing it. For too long, they have been deterred, and that includes Republican leaders.]