Mitt Romney went to England to show American voters that with his “Anglo-Saxon heritage” he would have a better relationship with Britain than Obama. He stirred up outrage instead. He then went to Israel for a fundraiser and an opportunity to reset his foreign policy credentials. He managed to sir up outrage in that region today.
In an effort to pander to campaign contributors and Jewish American voters, Romney made statement after statement in Israel that undermined U.S. foreign policy while on foreign soil, something politicians have never done before. He also outraged Israel’s neighbor, Palestine, by comments the Palestinians said were racist.
Romney outraged the Palestinians, and more than likely all their Arab allies, by telling wealthy Jewish campaign contributors that their “culture” is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians. It does not take a scholar to understand how many stereotypes there are in that comment.
“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 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.”
Immediately, Palestinians expressed outrage. “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.”
Romney does not understand the geopolitics of the region nor does he grasp the issues that have prevented peace between Israel and Palestine since 1967. His comment that this disparity is due in part to the “hand of providence” is a slam at all of Islam in that he infers that God is on the Jewish side and is punishing Moslems with poverty.
Perhaps Romney believes it is “the hand of providence” that made him so wealthy.
His comparison of the two economies does not take into account the stifling effect the Israeli occupation has had on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. In the West Bank, Palestinians have only limited self-rule. Israel controls all border crossings in and out of the territory, and continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, but has invested much less heavily there than in Jewish west Jerusalem.
Romney directly undermined U.S. policy despite a long tradition that politics stopped at the water’s edge. It has been the policy of every President since the 1967 war that our embassy is located in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem which Israel occupied in 1967. Romney vehemently criticized U.S. policy and said he would move the embassy to Jerusalem which Palestine says is their capital.
He also took multiple swipes at Obama’s policies on Iran. He would condone a strike by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities. He also strongly inferred that a Romney administration might take the lead in such an attack.
Our foreign policy is to work with the international community to put crippling sanctions on Iran. We have tried to dissuade Israel from taking unilateral military action. We have a treaty to defend Israel from attack. If they bomb, Iran is likely to retaliate and then we will be sucked into another war in the Middle East. Such a war would kill our economy.
We have one foreign policy and the constitution says the President sets that policy. Candidates for office can disagree with that policy but should never do so on foreign soil, especially when the comments undermine our policy and delicate negotiations underway.
Romney heads off to Poland today to see if he can make it 3 for 3.
If you like this article subscribe to mu column above or follow me on Facebook