Mitt Romney’s comments at fundraiser angers Palestinians
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said at a breakfast fundraiser on Monday that Israeli economy surpasses that of Palestine because of superiority of “culture.”
Romney referred to David Landes’ book “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” published in 1998, regarding the “economic disparities” he noticed between Israel and Palestine.
“He says if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: Culture makes all the difference,” Romney said, according to Yahoo! News. “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.”
His remarks immediately drew criticisms from Palestinian officials.
“It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people,” said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told 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.”
Romney’s strategist Stuart Stevens said the comment was “misinterpreted” but did not explain what Romney meant by Israeli “cultural” advantages.
The crossing between Palestinian regions has been blocked by Israel since 2007, while Palestinian trade and movement in the West bank continue to be controlled by Israel.
Such restriction needs to be lifted in order to allow economic growth in Palestine, according to both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.