Palestinians protest Romney statements as 'racist'
July 30th, 2012
10:16 AM ET
6 years ago

Palestinians protest Romney statements as 'racist'

(CNN) – A Palestinian leader blasted Mitt Romney's statements at a high-dollar fund-raiser in Jerusalem as "racist" Monday after Romney made a comparison between the per capita GDPs of Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas.

Romney, speaking to a group that included Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, said higher personal wealth among citizens in Israel was an indication that the country was accomplishing something its neighbors were not.

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"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," Romney said.

(Figures on the United Nations' website actually indicate a much greater disparity between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel had a per capita GDP of $27,060 in 2009, while the 2009 per capita GDP of the occupied Palestinian territory was listed as $1,367.)

Citing the book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," Romney detailed his interpretation of author David Landes' thesis.

"He says if you can learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: culture makes all the difference. 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," Romney said.

While Romney has cited Landes' book in speeches before, and included a passage about it in his own book "No Apology," his remark Monday in Israel drew a sharp reaction from Sa'eb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

"This man, before he came here, he should have got some education about Israelis, Palestinians, and the region," Erekat said. "The Romney statements on Jerusalem and the racist statements about the Israeli culture being superior to the Palestinian culture reflect someone who needs to be educated, who needs knowledge. His statements are serving those extremists in the region now, and will serve extremists unfortunately."

Erekat said Romney ignored the reality that Israeli occupation was the main reason Palestinian areas were suffering economically.

"He does not know the situation on the ground, he does not know the settlement activities, he does not know that the Palestinian economy suffers most because of the Israeli occupation, because of the road blocks and closure and so on," Erekat said.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip came under Israel's control after the six-day war in 1967. Israel continues to control access to both regions.

The World Bank, in a 2009 report, argued the Israeli restrictions to Gaza and the West Bank were hindering economic growth in the region.

"The largest impediment to private sector investment in the West Bank and Gaza remains the restrictions on movement and access to resources and markets imposed by the Government of Israel," a report from the World Bank stated.

Erekat said Romney's remarks were based in a "lack of knowledge" about the economic realities in the region.

"This man has no knowledge and yet he comes and makes racist statements which will play in the hands of extremists in the region," Erekat said.

CNN's Kareem Khadder contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Israel • Mitt Romney
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. paqrat137

    The man has NO diplomatic skills – he's now proven it twice in Britain and in Israel! Is this the international man you want representing the United States? If he's managed to anger our friends, imagine what he will do with our enemies? Giving an opening like this to Erekat is not diplomacy – and the wort thing is he has not idea what he did wrong.

    July 30, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. Expat American

    Romney is a lightweight and a coward. He doesn’t seem to understand that there are two sides to every situation – and if you pander to one, you have to answer to the other. It’s not as easy as putting American families out of work, taking away their homes and never having to actually face them.

    July 30, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  3. RSaundersPA

    Just why is Romney holding fund raising events in other countries? Is he planning to offshore our government?

    July 30, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Laverne

    If you are not rich, you are crap in Mitt Romney's eyes! If middle class and poor Americans don't see this man for what he really is and get off their butts and vote against him in Nov. it will be a catastophe!

    July 30, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. Shann

    Really? And palestinians aren't racist?

    July 30, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. Lemone

    Here he goes again...opening up his mouth and doesn't know what he is talking about!

    July 30, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. incredulous

    So yet again Romney manages to insult an entire country. Why would anyone want him to represent the US at any level?

    July 30, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Big_D

    He has not even been elected and he is trying to start a war. I hope the USA is smart enough to stay away from a new war. Romney is a guarantee of war with Iran and a worse economy than anyone can imagine. War isn't good for the USA no matter what the GOP thinks. Just because they don't have to pick up the tab the GOP thinks war is free.

    July 30, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. Greg

    What an absolute dolt. To say that the economic status of a state identifies that it's culture is superior to another when the richer state holds the other hostage economically and culturally is absurd.

    July 30, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Sissy

    In Mr. Romney's world, the only thing that matters is MONEY. Achievement in his eyes can only be measured by wealth. By his terms, people like Sister Theresa and Martin Luther King weren't successful since they failed to rake in a bundle of cash. He's a sad, empty little man with little to offer other than shop-worn platitudes and tired talking points.

    July 30, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. Al-NY,NY

    clueless lightweight at it again. Can't wait to hear his next set of gaffes in Poland....

    July 30, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Larry L

    Mitt is Jewish now. He will remain devoutely Jewish/Mormon/Protestant/Cuban American/Severely Conservative/Moderate/Pro-life/Pro-choice/Pro-Self Deportation/Pro-Immigrant/Pro-Obamacare and Anti-Obamacare until some other group of voters enters the scene. Sorry Palestinians... Mitt works on a cash-only basis.

    July 30, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. Scott

    Good for Romney, until the Palestine Liberation Organization, realizes that Isreal has a right to exist and for them to stop their cowardly terriost attack on innocent civilians the PLO should get no repsect, we do not respect terrorist organizations. At least Romney goes to Isreal not like our current joke for a President, that hates Isreal and only pays them lip service while backing the PLO.

    July 30, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. rla

    Like Democrats when you have nothing yell RACIST and act like a minority - Sorry no guilt here from thiis group who have devistated their people and aused decades of war and human suffering that was needless .... There is not an intellect in the bunch!
    Use of power is important, supporting allies is important and Obama has neither.

    July 30, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. paqrat137

    If this is the best the Republican Party can come up with in 2012, then I'll stick the the man we have now. It has been written, "better the android you know, than the android you don't". If I was voting for a spokesperson for preppy fashion, or a model for Brooks Brothers, Mitt is it – for leader of the free world, I don't think so! Please get him home before he causes more problems in Poland – please?!?!!?

    July 30, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. Jules

    He quotes, "culture makes all the difference" in talking about the difference between Israel and the Palastinian people. This from the party that wants to get rid of all of the arts, the education department and everything else that advances the culture of this nation.

    July 30, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  17. AnnsTheMan!

    Wait, you seriously expect Mitt to notice a poorer country? Bet'cha $10K he didn't even consider Palestine until Israel talked about getting bombed by them...

    July 30, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. Julie

    If this man's elected, how many wars will he be able start?

    July 30, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  19. Jules

    No mention of the words "peace process" in his speeches. Roll that war machine out again.

    July 30, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  20. Larry L


    Really? And palestinians aren't racist?
    We aren't considering a Palestinian for election to the Office of President of the United States. Other than the right-wing, Americans do not consider racism a virtue.

    July 30, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  21. Lionel

    Thanks Mitt. You probable also believe that segregation and apartheid are okay. You are such an eliteist.
    Please tell us how you plan to solve the problems in the USA rather than smoke and mirrors.
    Please come clean with your time at Bain Capital.
    Please release 12 years of your tax returns to squash the rumors about not paying any taxes.

    Obama / Biden 2012

    July 30, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  22. GI Joe

    I don't trust him. Especially with the security of the United States.

    He will do what puts the most money in HIS pockets.

    July 30, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. Scott

    If you are not rich, you are crap in Mitt Romney's eyes! If middle class and poor Americans don't see this man for what he really is and get off their butts and vote against him in Nov. it will be a catastophe!
    Four more years of Obama and this country will self explode. Our ecomony canot take 4 more years of OBama tax and spend policies and giving money away to foreign country to create jobs overseas. As for the middle class we all know Obama is paying them lip service only. He could care less for them.

    July 30, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  24. chuck weidemann

    What do we say when some foreign want to be comes over here and comments on things he only thinks he knows about??? That's what I thought

    July 30, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. george of the jungle

    once again mitt the twitt shows off his diplomatic skills. Can the man get through one day without offending someone? Diplomacy requires that you try and make nicey niceywith everyone so as to leave the doors open for some real work to get done. The president is now left with the job of cleaning up after another republican screw up. Forward.

    July 30, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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