Responding to remarks made by Mitt Romney, in his private fundraiser, suggesting that culture was the explanation for the large differences in per capita GDP, between Israel and Gaza and the West Bank, Saeb Erekat, the lead negotiator for the Palestinians said Mitt Romney's explanation was "racist," and said Romney lacks knowledge of the region, reports HuffPo
As he explained to participants of his private fundraiser:
"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.Romney said some economic histories have theorized that "culture makes all the difference."Romney again demonstrates he is no where near ready to operate on an international stage. This gaffe goes well beyond merely insulting hosts, but illustrates a complete lack of fundamental and critical knowledge of a vital region.
"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." He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.
"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."
Also, we see that Romney's compulsive pattern, and apparent emotional need to pander to the sponsor of the moment, saying whatever he thinks they want to hear, or what he's been told by incompetent advisors disqualifies him to be an appropriate candidate for President of the United States.
To no understand that the economic development of the West Bank and Gaza strip have been crippled by occupation, roadblocks, and import bans on building materials demonstrates a mind-numbing level of ignorance of one of the most politically sensitive and critical regions of the world.
Romney's camp says his remarks are being taken "out of context" but have yet to explain in what context they might have a different and non-offensive meaning.
9:55 AM PT: The Wall Street Journal confirms Saeb Erekat's statements.
Palestinian leaders's reactions were swift and pointed.
"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," Mr. Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."
Mr. Romney made no mention of the fact that Israel has controlled the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem since capturing them in 1967. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but continues to control access and has enforced a border blockade since the Islamic-militant group Hamas seized the territory in 2007.
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 the Palestinian economy can only grow if Israel lifts those restrictions.