I have heard it said that a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. By that standard, I am not sure that the comment that Mitt Romney made in Jerusalem regarding the economic disparity between Israel and the Palestinians really qualifies since I am certain he knew exactly what he was saying. But first, the story according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Governor Romney caused a stir when he said in a speech Sunday that “it is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.” That actually sounded milder than what then-Sen. Barack Obama said in June 2008, when he insisted that Jerusalem must “remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
Romney’s statement on Jerusalem was not well received by the Palestinians, but the candidate didn’t stop there, adding a comment Monday about culture and prosperity that elicited even more condemnation.
Aside from angering the Palestinians, the problem with referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is that, officially, the United States – in line with most of the international community – does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Instead, it considers the city’s status an issue to be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem – seized by Israel in the 1967 war – as their capital.
As a result, the US keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv.
I think we should recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move our embassy there. Jerusalem has been the capital of every Jewish state since the time of King David and no one else has a claim on it, except the Jebusites, if any are still around.
At a breakfast fund-raising event in Jerusalem Monday, Romney said he couldn’t help but notice the “dramatically stark difference in economic vitality” between Israel and “the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority,” and he concluded, “Culture makes all the difference.”
No mention from the would-be US president of the trade and mobility restrictions that Israel maintains over the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza – restrictions that both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have said for years are key factors in hampering Palestinian economic growth.
Palestinian leaders quickly blasted Romney’s “culture” comment as “racist” and added that he failed to take into account the impact of Israel’s tight grip on the Palestinian economy.
Somehow, I find myself not caring too much what the Palestinians think. That culture makes the difference shouldn’t be a controversial statement at all. A country that educates its population in the latest in science and technology and allows freedom of speech and thought is always going to prosper far more than a country that trains their citizens in hatred and has a repressive and corrupt government. If it is a matter of geo-political considerations, than I would note that Israel has been a country under siege for its entire history and yet they have somehow managed to create a diverse and vibrant economy. And then too, Israel probably wouldn’t be imposing trade and mobility restrictions if the Palestinians had not been making it perfectly clear that they prefer war with Israel to peaceful economic development.
I have a feeling that the Palestinians would be a whole lot better off if they gave up on their death cult and learn to live in peace.
- China Says Romney’s Comments on Jerusalem Wrong – ABC News (abcnews.go.com) I’ll start caring what the Chinese think about this when they withdraw from Tibet.
- Mitt Romney: Israel’s economic success due to ‘the hand of providence’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Romney’s remarks on Israel set off culture skirmish (miamiherald.com)
- Romney goes racist in Israel (secularnewsdaily.com) Yes, noting that a culture that does not encourage suicide bombing does better than a culture that does is racist.
- Palestinians slam ‘racist’ Romney (bbc.co.uk)