Romney outrages Palestinians

2012-07-30 18:11

Jerusalem - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told Jewish donors on Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who called his comments racist and out of touch.

"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 breakfasted at the luxurious King David Hotel.

The reaction of Palestinian leaders was swift and pointed, as Romney continued to make missteps with his hosts on a three-country trip designed to bolster his foreign policy credentials while challenging President Barack Obama for the November election. The Israel visit was designed to appeal to the Jewish vote in a tight race.

"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 [Romney] 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."

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, told donors that he had read books and relied on his business experience to understand why the difference is so great.

"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 made no mention of the fact that Israel has controlled the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem since capturing them in the 1967 war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but continues to control access, and has enforced a crippling border blockade since the Islamic militant Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

Obama still leads

In the West Bank, Israel retains overall control, and Palestinians only have limited self-rule. Israel controls all border crossings in and out of the West Bank, and continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have said repeatedly that the Palestinian economy can only grow if Israel lifts those restrictions.

"It's Israeli occupiers and Palestinians under occupation, and that's why Palestinians cannot realize their potential," Erekat said.

The breakfast with top donors concluded the second leg of Romney's three-nation overseas tour. Poland was next Monday. Romney started last week in Britain, where he attended the opening of the London Olympics after drawing criticism, including from Prime Minister David Cameron, for calling some of the city's late-breaking preparation issues "disconcerting".

Romney and other Republicans have said Obama is insufficiently supportive of Israel, but Obama still leads among Jewish voters. A Gallup survey of Jewish voters released on Friday showed Obama with a 68-25 edge over Romney.

Standing on Israeli soil for the first time as the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and said the United States has promised never to "look away from our passion and commitment to Israel."

The status of Jerusalem is a critical issue in peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Romney's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital was keeping with claims made by Israeli governments for decades, even though the United States, like other nations, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

$100m to help defeat Obama

During his visit to Israel, Romney did not meet with Abbas or visit the West Bank. He held a brief meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

He also met with President Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders and visited the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, where he was mobbed by worshippers.

In his remarks, Romney steered clear of overt criticism of Obama, even though he said the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran "has only become worse" in the past five years.

The Jerusalem fundraiser raised more than $1m for Romney's campaign. A fundraiser in London attracted about 250 people to a $2 500 per person event.

Both presidential candidates have aggressively courted American donors living abroad, a practice that is legal and has been used for decades.

Adelson, the American businessman who has promised to donate more than $100m to help defeat Obama, was among  several donors who flew to Israel for a day of sightseeing with Romney in addition to private meetings with top Israeli officials.

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 18:16

    Because there isn't an occupation. It is a tragic lie Palestinians are telling themselves. It will never get them peace and prosperity, ever.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-31 04:34

      There is an occupation and an organised theft of Palestinian land. What cretins like you fail to appreciate is that Israel can also never know peace for so long as it continues this policy. Inevitably, Israel, like the Apartheid government, who appeared so strong, so invincibly will implode like a house of cards unless it reaches a just accommodation with its neighbours by honest negotiation for a settlement based upon the pre-1967 borders. Nothing less will work and time and history are against the maintenance of the status quo.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-07-31 06:44

      You will be proven wrong zaathist. Israel can continue as it is indefinitely and quite comfortably. It is the Palestinians who must and will change their demands because they have nothing to bargain with. Jerusalem will never be returned and will remain to be the undivided capital of Jews and Israel.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-31 07:58

      @Larry Dream on. "Israel can continue as it is indefinitely". Not really because the US is a declining World power and when big daddy can no longer pay the bills then you guys are going to be playing in a very different ball park. Just look how helpless the West is over Syria because the Chinese and the Russians say, "No". Much better to honestly negotiate while you have the power to do so. Just like the Nats in '70 they will leave it till they have no power left at all.

      jo.barton.92 - 2012-07-31 08:37

      Religion: The single biggest cause of all conflict.

      Larry - 2012-07-31 09:06

      Israel is living the dream, which makes it a reality. The reality is that Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and all of Jerusalem is now the Israeli capital city. The reality is that Jerusalem will never be relinquished. This is, and will be non-negotiable. The Palestinians are the ones who must face reality.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-31 16:05

      Israel was created in 1948 from 52% of the land formerly occupied by the Jewish and Palestinian people, and Palestine 43%. Most of the Israeli territory was the Negev Desert. Jerusalem fell into neither territory. Palestinians with their brutal, unelected neighbors declared war on her the very next day. In the 1960's they invaded Israel twice. Full military invasions. The result: Israel survived and pushed them back, gaining territory in the process. This is the origin of what you wrongly call the occupied territories. There have been almost daily attacks by Palestinians, incited by their self-serving unelected backers. Palestinians even teach their children at Kindergarten to attack Israel, rather than be peaceful. Children. Kindergarten. From day one, and even today it's wage war on Israel. It is true that Israel has gone too far on occasion in defending herself from these attacks, which is not acceptable. But changing self-defense to oppression, as you are doing, is disingenuous, a blatant lie you're telling yourself. All that needs to happen is for Palestinians to choose peace side by side with Israel. This is more likely going forward now because the unelected dictators are being removed from power by their people one by one. They will no longer use the Palestinians for their own internal political ploys.

  • ditiro.chuenagae - 2012-07-30 18:30

    i honestly don't know why american citizens vote for republicans, they are arrogant warmongers of the highest degree, democrats failed in a lot of thing just like republicans but atleast they don't cause wars were ever they go

      Squeegee - 2012-07-30 18:37

      Your knowledge of American history is non-existent.

      victor.tamaranui - 2012-07-30 19:15

      Your knowledge of US foreign policy is perfectly correct Ditiro.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 19:18

      At least you're honest that you don't understand.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-31 04:36

      Oh dear, squeegee, the bathroom mop attendant, has only one post - everyone is ignorant and knows nothing. Of course the opposite is true but then he is way too dumb to recognise it. He exhibits one of the primary characteristics of idiots - an inflated sense of your own intellectual superiority.

  • Zahir - 2012-07-30 18:46

    Romney is only interested in following the money trail he is bad news for US people that are low income

  • phae.rayden - 2012-07-30 18:49

    Hopefully after this diplomatic tour of blunders, he and the world will realise he is not the man for the job.

  • brian.dixon.790 - 2012-07-30 18:50

    Obama does not need to campaign. Romney is doing it all for him!!

      Adil Smit - 2012-07-30 19:08


      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 19:41

      Unfortunately Obama has turned out to be more politician than leader. Romney is a solid person with a loving family and good values. He is also highly knowledgeable on the economy. He will probably need to appoint a wise and seasoned Secretary of State to shore-up his inexperience in foreign policy. But he is an intelligent, high valued individual. This should guide him well.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 19:43

      P.S. I was a strong Obama supporter.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-31 04:39

      Fred PS. Who cares what you are or were. Obama is going to bury the guy with magic underwear by a landslide.

  • - 2012-07-30 19:08

    Why is this a shock? the guy is a conservative what else would you expect!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 21:57

      Another immature, preconceived thought from Patrick.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-31 04:40

      Patrick All fred is doing is simply adding to the world’s considerable stockpile of stupid.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-07-31 06:46

      And what makes you so clever zaathist?

      zaatheist - 2012-07-31 08:00

      @Larry Education, study, an enquiring mind and years of experience. And you?

      Larry - 2012-07-31 09:08

      Pretty much the same, if not more. Mine is unencumbered by bigotry and hatred, however if it is a pissing contest you want then we will have to get together and see who pisses furthest.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-31 16:14

      zaatheist/godfrey, the fact that you agree with Patrick, who unfortunately has blinded himself with a highly immature anti-West core belief that distorts reality, really says it all.

  • victor.tamaranui - 2012-07-30 19:14

    Typical fascist Republican, Why bother hiding his KKK suit ??

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 19:20

      Clearly you have no knowledge of who Romney is and what is core values are. Your ignorance shows, and it will only become clearer.

      victor.tamaranui - 2012-07-30 19:54

      Who cares about Romney, just another Republican right wing conservative hence non-progressive. Fred , that means regressive in policy & ideology, That's enough for me.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 19:57

      At least you're honest that you don't care to think or process much information about him. How can you honestly expect to arrive at a true image of reality with this attitude.

      huck.starr - 2012-07-31 16:02

      What is wrong with the KKK.

  • africanwolf - 2012-07-30 20:00

    I think he will be the next US president Obama is too weak , Americans do not like weak presidents. Therefore Obama is a one term president.

  • smalefane - 2012-07-30 20:10

    Romney...a friend of Israel, opposes same sex marriages and abortion. All the best mate!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 20:24

      I agree that it's wrong to oppose same-sex marriage and abortion under certain conditions. Not sure what you mean by "friend of Israel". I hope this doesn't mean that you too have fallen for popular and superficial street-rhetorick.

  • hellodanie - 2012-07-30 20:14

    Where did the Republicans get a worse candidate for president than this Romney Guy? Future leader of the free world or will he just bring more war and misery?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-30 20:23

      This Romney guy? Is that the level of your analysis.

      jo.barton.92 - 2012-07-31 08:49

      @ huck.starr - Obama is a Christian.The Devil is a creation from the same God that created Jesus, that is why on He can destroy him.God chooses not to destroy the Devil, but will destroy humans (Great floods of Noah etc)

      nom.deplume.969 - 2012-07-31 09:28

      @joe.barton.92 Obama is as much a Christian as I am black enough when it comes to elections. I dont know where you get your information from, but God did not create the devil. God created an angel. That angel was perfection in every sense of the word. But that perfection went to his head and he wanted to usurp God's throne. His pride became his downfall and when he sinned, he was cast out from heaven and away from the presence of God. He then became what we know and describe as "the devil". Now God chooses not to destroy the devil...just yet, because even he is subject to the will of God. And just how any good shepard will separate the sheep from the goats, God is letting the devil expose those who would rather side with the devil. We are the ones choosing sides...just like in our daily lives we choose sides because we have free will to do so. God doesnt want robots, without a choice, to follow Him...that is not a demonstration of real love from us to Him. And God, just like any good parent, has set up boundaries for His children. Those who cross over those boundaries deserve to be punished...just like I was yesterday, when the robot just turned red and I went over and got a fine...I deserve it because I didnt stop when I should have. And if even the government can set boundaries and punish those who cross over, why can God??

  • nom.deplume.969 - 2012-07-31 09:07

    LOL...the Palestinians remind me of Zuma..."we are failing because of Verwoerd" sounds exactly the same as "we are poor because Israel is an illegal occupier"...really? And I challenge anyone, especially the loud mouthed zaatheist to prove...and factually so, who was there first. Dont come with assumptions, hearsay and islamic rhetoric...come with proven fact. Jews WILL occupy Israel...the promised land, until Jesus comes. And the way that the world is moving, someone with understanding can literally see the biblical prophesy coming to pass. The world stage is ripe for the emergence of the anti-christ, who will at first unite the world and peace a false peace, before the destruction comes. Repent therefore and turn from your sins and turn to God. Jesus already paid the price for your sins...believe on Him and be saved. Come, Lord Jesus. Come

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