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. Thomas Guerra

    If this guy gets elected after physically assaulting a fellow student, refusing to release his tax records, talking such unbelievably racist trash on the international stage and being supported almost exclusively by the top 2%... then we are truly lost as a democracy. This is a no-brainer decision and should be a landslide victory for both Obama and the democratic party in both houses.

    July 30, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. TomGI

    I don't support Israel's policies, never have, never will.

    July 30, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. Kenny K

    Isreal live on handouts from USA while Palestine live on what they make and build with their hands. That seems to go against what you , Romney, are claiming in USA that nobody should be helped by govt.

    July 30, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. geggyg

    If Romney believes the Israeli culture is so much better than the Palestinian culture in regards to economics , then he should reduce the military and foreign aid to Israel to the same level as the palestinians, and encourage another country to control Israels borders , which can restrict imports of vital supplies (food, fuels , medicine buiiding materials etc) put up road blocks through out Israel to restrict travel , banking restrictions to limit money transfers in, and take control of import duties and only give them to Israel when they feel like. If Romney allowed this then see how low the Israeli GDP would be

    July 30, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. Becky

    I would think that the largest impediment to investment in the Palestinian territories would be the fear of terrorism and other violence, followed closely by the inherently unstable nature of a government controlled by a terrorist organization.

    Businesses can find ways around restrictions to physical movement. Call centers, software developers, and brokerages need no access to physical markets. But no investor is going to put the time and money into training a workforce and developing a business in an area known best for the invention of the suicide bomber.

    July 30, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  6. v_mag

    "Romney made a comparison between the per capita GDPs of Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas."

    This is how Mittler evaluates the worth of a person. Money. Imagine if he had visited a Warsaw ghetto in the 1930's and seen the destitution of Jewish families. He would have praised Nazis for their industry and derided poor oppressed Jews as lazy and culturally inferior.

    Now he sits in Jerusalem next to that insect Sheldon Adelson and makes racist comments about the downtrodden Palestinians. Rob-money is a classic Pharisee.

    July 30, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. alex

    Sadly, Romney is an opportunist, and not a statesman.

    July 30, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  8. Beezy

    wow you libs make me laugh. president bush was responsible for 9/11, which he wasn't. obama got bin laden, which he didn't. obama has done nothing but weaken this country in the eyes of the rest of the world. we do not appologize to anyone for anything. obama has been a drain on this country. i am not the biggest fan of romney but his so much better than obama.

    July 30, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Is there a "Nobel War Prize?" Spineless Mittens would be a shoo in. If Adelson gets most of his money from Chinese Communists, doesn't that make Mittens a commie sympathizer?

    July 30, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. The Centerist

    The world is in deep trouble if this pretender get's anywhere near the White House. He's trying to buy the Presidency and represents only what will build him votes from the right. He has no place in politics , no background in policy and no understanding of the world.

    July 30, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. ST

    McCain who insisted Romney should go to Israel must have a pounding headache right now. This is not what he expected Romney to do/say. Without showing even a bit of diplomacy, Romney can't lead. The whole world will burn up!

    July 30, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. guythegood

    This trip abroad by Romney should be a triumph because he carefully selected his destinations: UK, Israel, Poland. This is the softball in terms of US foreign policy. Yet your Mr. Romney is still making a hash of things. What kind of calamity would he have unleashed if he selected a more difficult tour like China, Russia, France or Germany ? As a citizen of a country other than the US I implore you to consider the international implications of electing this individual.

    July 30, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. Kedryck James


    "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"

    Funny that it was Israel who started the Six-Day war during their conflicts and they were the ones who launched missiles into Palestinian areas to start. Oh, but the PLO are terrorist because they are Arabs and Muslim so they must be the bad guys. Get your facts straight. We as a country need to be the leading example of trying to get other nations on track for a better global economy, not constantly tear down another nation of people because there are a few extremists.

    July 30, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. rs


    I'll take "tax and spend" any day- it implies a balance between income and output. Look at what the GOP pushes- "Tax-cut and spend". Fingure out how we got debt and deficit yet?

    And when the GOP finally does talk "fiscal responsibility" they "feel the pain of the rich" and offer ludicrous ideas like vouchers for Medicare, raising taxes on the poor, and privatizing Social Security. In other words- their economic theories MAKE NO SENSE.

    July 30, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Only republicans who want to destroy America completely, will vote for Mittens.

    July 30, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. A little sad


    No Mitt is doing something our coward of a President does not do, standing up for Isreal, and not apologizing to everyone like our current President does, Obama is an wimp. America does not apologize to foreign nations.
    If you care so much about Israel, don't you think you should learn to spell it?

    Or are you just pandering, hoping to get votes from a constituency that you do not care about in the least?

    July 30, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. rs

    Hey Scott- Under which President did Osama bibn Laden get brought to justice?

    July 30, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Logic N LA

    Two countries- two insults. not bad for a man with now power. Imagine how he could alienate us with a title!
    And did Andelson and Johnson travel that far so they could tap thier off shore accounts for Romney as well?

    July 30, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. v_mag

    Scott - "America does not apologize to foreign nations."

    It's time the right wing apologized to America and the rest of the world for 8 years of Bush/Cheney and the horrors they perpetrated. People like Scott think "might makes right", and that is un-American. If Scott were a real man and a real American, he would know that men and countries take responsibility for their actions.

    July 30, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. Larry L

    I spent a year as part of the multinational force tasked to maintain peace between Israel and Egypt – with lots of exposure to all sides. You can rest assured that Israel would not exist without the heavy hand of the U.S. They have received untold billions of dollars from our taxpayers yet continue to spy upon America. Israel continues to violate treaties and expand on Palestinian terretory. We always favor Israel because of a wealthy and powerful Jewish lobby in the United States. We now have the moronic Evangelicals ranting about the role of the Holy Land in some mythical battle they've imagined for the "end of times". Don't let yourself get jerked around by your belief in our obligation to Israel. They have bravely defended the land they were "given" by the Allies, but owe us for their very existence and do not appear grateful. To our politicians they are a source of votes and money for elections. Don't be fooled.

    July 30, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. John

    Wow! Sounds like Mitt will have a hard time determining who to invade on his first day in office...
    ...1....the Russians "They are number 1 Geo-political foe in the world (Colin Powell immediately put down this assertion)
    ....2...Syria...."We need to do something more aggressive than what we are doing" (only thing left is to bomb them)
    ....3...Iran......."We need to immediately consider all options, including military" (Jan 20,21?)
    ....4 Palestinians "Their society is so poor, they obviously don't deserve to live"..........
    Is this the most dangerous candidate in history? Haven't we learned any lessons in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    July 30, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  22. freelance

    Romney will rage Palestine and Iran to ground.. and strengthen bonds with Israel. Show them who is supreme

    July 30, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  23. A little sad



    Mitt has no foreign policy bonafides.
    More then Obama does, at least Isreal likes Romney .

    And you consider that a deciding factor?

    July 30, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  24. Scott S.

    He continues to stick his foot in his mouth. That's twice in two weeks he's insulted an entire nation of people. First England with his remarks about the Olympics, now Palestine. No matter how innocent the comments may sound, no matter whether or not you like Palestine as a nation, if you want to become President of the United States, you have to have good foreign relations. But alas, we have Mitt Romney who for some reason, despite his efforts at Bain Capital, somehow completely ignores the fact that countries are far more globally intertwined economically than ever before in history. Maybe if we're lucky, and he becomes president, he'll tick off enough countries with his terrible foreign relations ability that all these companies who have decided to open manufacturing operations in the U.S. will up and leave. That would be good. Note the sarcasm.

    July 30, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. vdanker

    Great demonstration of your foreign policy skills, Mittens. Open mouth, change feet.

    July 30, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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