As I was trolling the internet the other day, I came across an article on CATO’s website about Mitt Romney’s comments regarding Palestinians. The writer was defending Romney’s comments as factually accurate and deeply “insightful.” That got me thinking about how ignorant, offensive, and bigoted some columnists can be, and the main point that most people discussing Israel and Palestine have missed: If Palestine has failed to succeed economically, Israel is to blame
Just to put things in perspective: on his tour of Israel, Romney compared Israel and Palestine’s economies and said that Palestinians don’t have a comparable GDP because there is something inherently wrong with their “culture.” To use his exact phrase, he said “Culture makes all the difference.” The difference between the GDPs (Israel’s per capita GDP is roughly $32,000 to the Palestinians’ $1,500) is actually a reflection of how total and repressive the Israeli occupation is.
Now, that reminds me of a joke we have in South India (where I am from) about North Indians – that the only culture up-North is “agri” culture. This is a constant refrain one hears, as a response to the rivalry that exists between the two regions.
Now, that is said in good humor to poke fun at some of the roughness that exists in the North Indians. But Romney, who could be the future president of the U.S. should not be making such statements. These are bigoted, ignorant, and racist remarks.
Here are some facts:
1) Israel controls virtually all of the roads and checkpoints in the Occupied Palestinian Territories ( there are well over 500 of them in West bank). That means the Palestinians have no freedom to move their goods or persons, without the permission of the IDF and Israeli authorities
2) It is also well-known that Israel controls over 80% of the water resources that supply water to Palestinian territories – and in the West Bank, Israelis consume on an average more than four times as much water as the Palestinians, per person, adding insult to injury.
3) The seaports are all dominated by Israel and virtually all economic activity by land and sea has to go through Israeli scrutiny.
Historically, Palestine has been an important region and the Palestinian people are known for their hard work, great work ethic, and entrepreneurial skills. In my two years in the Gulf, I met several very successful professionals and entrepreneurs who were Palestinian, and one can see this even in the United States.
If there is one thing that has impacted the Palestinians, it is the persecution and unnatural barriers placed by the Israeli occupation. This is what Romney should have focused on – not pandering to the powerful and mighty supporters in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.