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. anoel2005

    The Muslim culture subjugates women and therefore Muslim countries can't move into the 21st century with the rest of us.

    July 30, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Texasaaa

    Everyone one of you PRO Palestinian commenters are enemies of the USA. Israel is our ally, Palestinians would kill you if they could get their hands on you.

    July 30, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. zaggs

    You mean with the Israeli culture of not trying to annihilate someone else makes their economy better? Surely you jest?

    July 30, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Al-NY,NY


    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.

    "America does not apologize to foreign nations."

    THAT is the arrogance of republicans that makes countries dislike us. Cowboy-diplomacy. "We can do anything we want because we're 'superior' to you" and "we're not accountable for anyhting because we're America" are just typical examples of why Flip and his GOP predecessor Duh Duh Duh-bya are the worst possible people to have representing us in the past, and the future. Thankfully, Mr finger in the wind won't come anywhere near the white house in November

    July 30, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Michael Q

    If this keeps up, the Democrats will win the biggest landslide victory in the Congress, the Senate and of course the White House. Why? Mitt is a twit following the Koch brothers Republican script believing the 1% can really buy off the 99%, believing that another war will put the Halliburton (Cheney) defence supply business back leading defence spending, and putting all those minority groups, including that black president, in their places.

    America, with the figurehead Mitt the Twit leading, will be conned again. Did not the people learn in 2010 the consequences of believing all those extreme Republican claims of having a black president? Look how well the current Congress is operating. Yes, you Republicans, vote for your Mitt the Twit and everything will be fine in 2012. It is surprising the low educational standards of the lower 90% of the Republican base especially when it comes to world affairs. Gullible to believe if they follow the rich boys they will also become rich beyond belief. Fools being led to their slaughter by their own leaders.

    Well, my friends, the 2012 election will prove once and for all, the pen is mightier than the sword.

    July 30, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. rs

    Funny how Republicans bend over backwards to give away American treasure to other countries, but won't pay their fair share or spend a thin dime on Americans. Infrastructure? Let it rot. The poor? " I don't worry about the poor". Jobs? "I like to fire people". The warning signs are there folks. Vote GOP, and you'll get: war for Israel in Iran; the end of 80 years of the social safety net; huge numbers of newly poor; more millionaires; and a plutocracy that will end forever America as we know it.

    July 30, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. truefax

    What does this have to do with shipping Amercian jobs to China? The only reason Mitt want's to get elected is because he's put a lot of money into shorting the USA, and if we don't tank he won't turn a profit.

    July 30, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Bill from GA

    But just wait until he visits an Arab country: He'll tell them just the opposite.

    July 30, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Patrick

    Romney reminds me of Palin version 2.0. By the way Israel is in violation of international law with the settlements and the occupation of Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The 1967 war was Israel against Egypt , Jordan and Syria not the Palestinian people. So the palestinian fighting against Israel occupation is as legitime as the Frech Resistance vs the german occupation of France in WW2. Call them terrorists but they fight against an illegal occupation and since they don't have an army terrorism is the only weapon left.

    July 30, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. zaggs

    Here is the thing palestinians, Israel has the 3rd highest capita GDP in the Middle East. Also, where is your science and technical achievements? Israel has plenty (including 7 nobel prices in science). So until you catch up in those areas, shut it.

    July 30, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Bill from GA

    If Romney's GDP figures were accurate, the difference would just about equal to what the USA pours into Israel each year.

    July 30, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. ralph S

    Gee, the difference between the 2 countries sounds kind of like the difference between the 1% and the 99% in our country.

    July 30, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. grahame rhodes

    Dear God! Please shut this looney tunes up. Although I can't wait until he gets to Poland and insults the poles by saying something against Trade Unions. The man is a vast joke. Face it the only people who like Romney is because they can't stand Obama and that is the only reason..............

    July 30, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Expat American

    But just wait until he visits an Arab country: He'll tell them just the opposite.
    Doubtful that Romney visits an Arab country.
    He needs to pander to the Red State Trailer Park Trash voting bloc convinced that Al Qaeda is casing their Dairy Queen.
    Romney’s one-sided stance on any issue has to be pre-approved by the GOP first.

    July 30, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. John

    You Conservatives crack me up. You are actually going to try to deny that we got Bin Laden thanks to Obama? He is the one that took the focus off the non existent threat in Iraq and back on the Afghanistan/Pakistan area. We never ever should have gone into Iraq. Just because those who tell you what to think repeat things over and over does not make them true.

    July 30, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Roscoe Chait

    I have never agreed with the Palestinians in the past. They had their chance (several chances) to have a thriving country, but they chose murder and death instead. However, they are right about Mitt the Twit making irrationally stupid comments about the region. Stay home, Mitt. And sew up your mouth. You are an embarrassment not only to the U.S., but to the world.

    July 30, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. Jake

    He'll be the next Repub to have shoes thrown at him!

    July 30, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. Bill from GA

    We support Socialism in Israel, even pledging the lives of our troops, and our wealth. Yet even basic guaranteed medical care for Americans is unacceptable to the right.

    July 30, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |

    Mitt doesn't care about Palestine.
    He only cares about Israel
    He sees Palestine as an enemy that must be defeated
    He and his supporters believe that all Muslims are evil
    They believe that all Muslims are the enemy.
    This is red meat for his base,
    Oh well, at least he isn't embarrassing himself and our great nation the way he did in England

    July 30, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |

    @ Scott

    A recently conducted poll in the U.S. shows that Israelis support the President overwhelmingly compared to Willard. Where do you get your news from? Willard is abroad pandering to the Brits, the Jews and then the Polish. The man will say anything to get elected. He has no spine and no core.

    July 30, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. B.

    They hit it right on the head.

    July 30, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Name Shawn mcfadden

    Romney's comments insensitive as they are, are nothing more than dollars and cents. He did'nt realize yet again what he was getting himself into when he got there, just like when he was in the UK. If he's going to continue this tour, he needs to be more observant of this, or he will commit political suicide.

    July 30, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. American People

    The American People want to see mitt's tax returns for the last 20 years. We also want to know how many jobs he's off-shored. And we want to know how much money he holds in off-shore accounts to evade taxes.

    July 30, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. v_mag

    Texasaaa said:

    "Everyone one of you PRO Palestinian commenters are enemies of the USA. Israel is our ally, Palestinians would kill you if they could get their hands on you."
    Spoken like a true ignoramus. Israel is a rogue nuclear power propped up by American aid. It could draw us into WWIII in a heartbeat. It viciously oppresses Palestinians, whose land it occupies. It spies on America, repeatedly. It buys our politicians and influences our elections. This is our ally? Sounds like an arch-enemy to me.

    Have you ever known or talked to a Palestinian? I have, and I lived to tell the tale. If you want to demonize a group of people, I'd pick one that had some power rather than an oppressed one.

    July 30, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. columbus

    He's not a diplomat, and no matter how many countries he visits, he'll never be a diplomat, he should stick with campaigning on the economy and leave foreign relations to the experts. Obama isn't getting it done, but at least you know what you're getting, this guy is trying to be all things to all people, in the end you don't know what you would get. What a terrible decision we have to make this November, we are in desperate need of a legitimate third party.

    July 30, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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