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. Rudy NYC

    "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.
    Mitt Romney's remarks were heard by extremists on both sides. I do not know who he was aiming at, or if he had any aim at all, but he sure struck a chord.

    ( Only American citizens can donate to a political campaign. Supposedly, Romney was fund raising from US citizens who live in Israel and Europe. Only citizens, yet a multi-national corporation can donate however much it wants. I think businesses are anti-citizen. )

    July 30, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Jake

    Gee, let's see...if a country controls the borders of another country they hate, how much prosperity or economic growth is one to expect? Very little. It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to know this. But Mitt is a donkey's rear and is pandering to Israel and his rich friends like Andelson. This guy is just disgusting and an embarrassment to our nation.

    July 30, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. Deb in MT


    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!
    Amen to that, Laverne. And, the implication of Romney's remarks, is that we who are not in the top 1% deserve our financial situation, because of our 'cultural' inferiority.

    Damn and blast it: why can't people see this snake for what he is? (Then again, Bush II - in the midst of a gathering of multigazillionaires–joked about being there with 'his base', and middle class people still voted for him.)

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

    "Lack of knowledge" is too polite. How about "howling ignorance" or "raving stupidity"? Works for Romney in any region of the globe.

    July 30, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. Como

    What Romney said was ot racist but reality. The Arab nations have abandoned the Palestinians and used them as foils against the Israelis. If the Arab nations put money and development into Gaza and the West Bank for development no one on either side of the borders would be pulling the trigger. To look at the contrast of what development does positively to culture simply look at Kuwait, Qatar and Dubai. Reality sure stinks when you don't like it and it forces people to live below what they are capable of and in the long run deserve. Want to immediately improve the plight of the Palestinians....make the wealthy Arab oil nations spend development funds and cut off Iran from any influence.

    July 30, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. rs

    Never mind the Palestinians (bad enough commentary as that was), but Mr. Romney blanketed Israel with the "Jews make money" stereotype. One cringes at what Polish jokes he'll let fly at his next stop! What is this? The Archie Bunker World Tour?
    At great risk of mentioning Mr. Obama- given the greatset number of our federal taxpayer dollars (for foreign relations) wind up in Israel, I think it fair to say "they didn't build that themselves" in regards to their relative wealth vs. their Arab neighbors.

    Mr. Romney needs to understand the real impact his loose comments and promises of war (on behalf of Israel) have. As he is a draft-dodging missionary with 5 sons who never served- he is just another "chickenhawk" who knows nothing about th reality of the promises he makes to foreign leaders. He is utterly unworthy of being "Commander in Chief" (except perhaps of Israel, as he like to take cash from there).

    Mr. Romney simply doesn't get it.

    July 30, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Guest

    Romney's statement completely astounded me. Of COURSE Israel is more prosperous than Palestine right now. Just look at the road-blocks, the naval blockade and port closures, the occupation and forced evictions, and the restriction of materials to rebuild crucial infrastructure!

    Romney's statement was completely absurd, and frightening in its naivety, given the position he is campaigning for.

    July 30, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Fn0rdz

    Sounds like the Palestinian guy is the one who needs to be educated: there's nothing RACIST at all in Romney's statements. Culturally insensitive? I can see that, but RACIST? Not a chance.

    July 30, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Patriot Awesome

    Wow. This guy hasn't even officially been nominated yet and he's already about to start some wars. WTF?

    July 30, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Bricz

    Give Palestine 3 Billion in Free US $ and unconditional support, weapons facilities and protection money from Israel. Allow good , gas and water building supplies to enter into Palestine freely. Remove the blockade and allow Arab funding from US to support Hamas and help build infrastructure and schools in Palestine. Destroy all illegal settlements and give the land back to the rightful owners. Now let's see how the economy in Palestine is changed.

    July 30, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. chuck weidemann

    Let's start a war Mitt!!! What's one more ???

    July 30, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    Good grief, this man is not ready for prime time.

    Steve, so let me get this straight – all Palestinians are terrorists. Did you come to this conclusion by yourself or did Rush tell you to think so?

    July 30, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. Myviewis

    Everyone knows this in Europe that Palestinians don't do well financially and that is one of the reasons, if not the reason, Palestinians want Jerusalem, this has been known for many, many years, this is only new news to Americans.

    July 30, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    steve wrote;

    Yeah, reason there are roadblocks is because you are terrorists who launch missiles into the area on a daily basis. Why not stop it? The West Bank and the Gaza Strip came under Israel's control because you got your teeth kicked in in 1967. If you start a war thats what you get.
    The Palestinians are simply doing what supports of Jewish state did 60-90 years ago. Doesn't make it right. But, be aware that terrorism in the middle east occured throughout the entire 20th Century and acts were committed by both sides, most especially by the side not in control of the Holy Lands.

    July 30, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. Darryl

    This guy Romney ? Starting trouble shooting off on Foreign Affairs ? Send your 5 sons if your so concerned about another WAR ! You are NOT the POTUS we have 1. Go back to Wallstreet !

    July 30, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. Annie, Atlanta

    Can anyone answer this: What is a presidential nominee doing in London and Jerusalem fundraising? I have to admit not following elections this closely in the past to know whether this is normal operating procedure.

    July 30, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. Carl Guyer

    Isn't the culture argument the same one used by a certain group of Germans during the 1930's. It is amazing that he is not booted out of Israel for making such suggestions. I guess the old expression of what goes around comes around. Here we have a group of people listening and agreeing to the same argument that was used to slaughter millions of them not more that 100 years ago. This is amazing.

    July 30, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Brian

    I wish Mitt would be as dedicated to america...

    July 30, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. SafeJourney

    Way to go mitt. How many more people around the world can you piss off.

    July 30, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. alicai

    whoever votes for this guy better have their kids in the military ... this guy will have us in several wars before he even steps into office.

    July 30, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. cali ha ha

    This just in. Romney is on the UBS overseas list of tax cheats. He was granted immunity and took it in 2009. This fact is what he is hiding.

    July 30, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. Yes or no

    Why someone running for POTUS raising money from overseas. American voters, foreigners are American people too.

    July 30, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Delilah

    Adelson made Robmey say this – thats why they were behind closed doors.

    July 30, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  23. GunnerGA

    The relationship between Israel and the United States has never been stronger and Obama gets the credit for that. However, every candidate for President calls for moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Israels undivided capital city, and yet when they get into office (both Democrats and Republicans) they back away from action. Romney is not different and reading the exact wording of his statement, you can tell that is exactly his intention. Placing the word "ultimately" in his statement about moving the embassy builds him the wiggle rooms to say that he supports the idea EVENTUALLY but not at this time. That isn't leadership. That's cowardice.

    July 30, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. Kenny K


    Not every tribe in the world wants to be put in reservation (zoo-like) as USA did to American Indians. Go to Indian Reservation in NC and witness.

    July 30, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |

    @Scott – Four more years of Obama and this country will self explode.
    Too much cool-aid last night Scott?? You've been to the Faux Noise well one too many times. Four more years of Obama is EXACTLY what we need to fix the mess the Grand Obstructionist Party left us with. The evidence is there for you to find for yourself. TWO unfunded wars, MASSIVE deficits, huge job losses, bailed-out banks, SS raided, failed trickle-down economic policies, tax cuts that failed to stimulate the economy (and let the 1% get richer), de-regulation of everything and complete refusal to work with the current administration. Lord help this country if the Teapugs are handed the reins. Luckily, the American people are smart enough to see thru the right wing rhetric and – unlike the GOBP – will do what is right for the country in Nov.

    July 30, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
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