Mitt Romney and Palestinian culture

Mitt Romney backed off his comment about Palestinian culture. He could have been on to something. Photo: Mitt Romney in Jerusalem (AP)

SAN DIEGO, August 2, 2012 — During his trip to Israel, Mitt Romney caused almost as much Middle Eastern controversy as the time Roman general Pompey arrived in Judea to “to help settle a dispute.” 

Speaking at a fund-raiser with prestigious Jewish-American financial contributors, Romney, in what looked like an attempt to sound like more of an Israeli supporter than President Obama, contrasted the Israeli and Palestinian cultures. 

“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…As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. 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. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States.”

Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, offered a sharp response to the Associated Press. “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,” Mr. Erekat said. “It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people.” 

But just as unenthused conservatives  began to see hope that their candidate might  have a little fire in the belly after all, Romney, like most politicians, explained to us that he didn’t really say what he said. 

In an interview with Fox News, the Massachusetts governor insisted he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy.” He went on to add, “That is an interesting topic that perhaps can deserve scholarly analysis but I actually didn’t address that. I certainly don’t intend to address that during my campaign. Instead I will point out that the choices a society makes have a profound impact on the economy and the vitality of that society.” 

It’s too bad Romney tried to walk the comment back. The last thing he needs is another flip flop on his resume. Even if he gets away with it by calling the change an “evolution,” there’s a more important reason to lament this changed tune: The first statement was true. Culture does have an economic effect. While economists may argue about Romney’s GDP figures, the main idea resonates.

Crucial to Palestinian economy is the goal of the Palestinians to eventually have their own state. Supposedly, if that were to happen, Israel and Palestine would live side by side in peace and prosperity. That sounds wonderful and fantastic. Unfortunately, it will happen on the day Santa elopes with the Easter Bunny, Obama takes responsibility for an economy under his watch, and Eric Holder passes a lie detector test. 

Facts can be stubborn little things, but a listing of the facts, plain and simple, will show us why this Middle-Eastern Shangri La will never emerge.

The Palestinians do not want a two state solution. They want a one state solution. The PLO charter does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. If a two state solution were put into place we would next hear about the Palestinian “right of return.”

The Palestinians were offered their own state in 1947 by the United Nations. They turned it down. The U.N. proposed two states, one Jewish and one Arab. (That’s what the Palestinians called themselves in those days, Arabs.) The Arabs living in the land rejected a two state solution and instead cooperated with surrounding Arab countries such as Egypt, Syria, and Jordan who openly bragged that they would destroy Israel.

King Abid Saud of Saudi Arabia said in 1947, “There are fifty million Arabs. What does it matter if  we lose ten million people to kill all of the Jews. The price is worth it.”

Azam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League declared, “This will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian Massacres.”

Haj Amin El Hussein, Mufti of Jerusalem, said, “I declare a holy war my Moslem brothers.  Murder the Jews!  Murder them all!”

Much to everyone’s surprise, Israel won the war. The Palestinian refugee situation came into existence as a result of the Arabs’ attempt to exterminate the Jews. The problem was further complicated in 1967 when Israel’s existence was again threatened during the Six Day War. At that time she expanded her territory, including the West Bank, where Palestinian refugees had been living under Jordanian control, and the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians were living under Egyptian control.

In 2005, Israel turned all of Gaza over to the Palestinians.  She was swiftly rewarded with a barrage of daily missiles from Gaza. Meanwhile, most of the greenhouses, (a 14 million dollar gift from wealthy Jewish Americans) were looted and destroyed. Perhaps that had some small effect upon Palestinian economy. 

Inasmuch as the supposedly peaceful President Abbas has written some historical revision of the Holocaust, and Palestinian kindergarten children are taught to hate Jews, there is little reason to hope this situation will take new direction in the years to come.

Nothing Israel offers; no treaty, no gift, no gesture, no signature on a piece of paper, no free ice cream cones for all the Palestinian kiddies, will make any difference. In the minds of her enemies the land will best be shared when Jews are buried beneath the ground and Palestinians live on top. Political Correctness may shout about a moral equivalency between the two peoples, but that’s only because truth has become so unpopular these days.

Mitt Romney, you were on to something. Don’t back down now.


Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at

Many comments to posts are discussed by Bob over the air where anyone is free to call in and respond/debate. Call in toll free number: 1-888-344-1170. Read more Forbidden Table Talk in The Washington Times Communities.



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Bob Siegel

A graduate of Denver Seminary and San Jose State University, Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and popular guest speaker at churches and college campuses across the country, using a variety of media including, seminars, formal debates, outdoor open forums, and one man drama presentations.

In addition to his own weekly radio show (KCBQ 1170, San Diego) Bob has been a guest on many other programs, including The 700 Club, Washington Times Radio's Inside the Story, The Rick Amato Show, KUSI Television's Good Morning San Diego, and the world popular Jonathan Park radio drama series, for which Bob guest starred in two episodes and wrote one episode, The Clue From Ninevah.

Bob is a regular contributor for San Diego Newsroom and San Diego Rostra. Bob does a good deal of playwriting as well (14 plays & 5 collaborations), including the award winning, Eternal Reach.  Bob has also published two books;  A Call To Radical Discipleship, and I'd Like to Believe In Jesus, But...

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