(CNN) – America's economic engine is fueled by individuals working hard, Mitt Romney said Tuesday, not by a government-run cooperative akin to a kibbutz.
"It's individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America," Romney said at a fund-raising event at Maggiano's Little Italy in Chicago. "What America is not a collective where we all work in a kibbutz or we all in some little entity, instead it's individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises."
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While Romney has often touted the importance of private sector job creators in his stump speech, the 'kibbutz' line in Tuesday's remarks is not a frequent part of his campaign rhetoric. It comes the week after Romney returned from a three-country foreign swing that included a stop in Israel, the home of the collective farms known as kibbutzim.
According to the Kibbutz Program Center, there are currently 270 kibbutzim (the plural of kibbutz) in Israel, with a population of roughly 120,000. That accounts for 2.8% of Israel's population.
While in Israel, Romney praised the economic conditions in the country, comparing the per capita GDP of Israel to the much lower per capita GDP of Palestinian-controlled areas.
Romney, speaking at a fund-raiser in the Jewish state, said higher personal wealth among citizens in Israel was an indication that the country was accomplishing something its neighbors were not.
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.
That remark that drew sharp criticism from Palestinians, who called it "racist."
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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If the fact is that Israel is much richer than the Palestinian conrolled areas (which it is), attributing it to culture is basically the oposite of racism. Saying it is because Jews are inherently smarter than Arabs would be the racist explanation.
Romney praised Israel's 8% GDP spending on healthcare and lamented USA's 18% GDP spending on healthcare. Israel has compulsory national socialize healthcare that heavily regulates insurance companies and tells them what they have to cover. Oops.
Oye vey... now Romney is trying to make people think he was jewish in a past life. Won't change the question though... still wanna see the taxes. It's not going to go away no matter how hard you try to change the topic.
How does Romney get away with such nonsense? The only “Culture” he knows about is greed and money and taking advantage of of others. That is why they despise him in Italy – as “vulture capitalist” and that says a lot.
Romney has a strong autistic behavour. He is cut of from his own feelings. That could be his problem with female voters. It surely helps to fire people but could be a problem when he should be a president. Kibbutzim would treat an autistic person more like somebody who needs help. And this doesn’t reflect the picture which romney has from himself. Conclusion: Romney doesn’t like Kibbutz.