Mitt Romney — July 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm

The International Tour of Shame & Embarrassment continues, Romney says Palestinians are culturally inferior to Israelis


Romney: the Anti-Statesman

Well, this is sure to help Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. Mitt Romney basically came out and said Palestinians are culturally inferior to Israelis.

Culture makes all the difference,” Mr. Romney said. “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.”

As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. 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,” he said.

This is offensive at a truly basic level and on several levels. Without even getting into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Mitt is clearly suggesting that being culturally superior makes you more successful. Or, perhaps worse, that being less wealthy means you are culturally inferior to others.

His statement clearly and blatantly disregards the impact on the Palestinian economy of the Israeli occupation. It’s pretty hard to be an economic powerhouse when you’re being occupied, OWS notwithstanding.

He’s also way off on his numbers. The Associated Press notes that the income disparity is actually much worse than this:

His comparison of the two economies did not take into account the stifling effect the Israeli occupation has had on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — areas Israel captured in 1967 where the Palestinians hope to establish a state.

The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.

The Palestinians are none too pleased with Romney’s remarks:

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people,” Erekat added. “He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.”

Romney is also back to defending government-controlled healthcare:

“Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? Eight percent. You spend eight percent of GDP on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation,” he said Monday at a breakfast fundraiser, according to the New York Times. “We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care, 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, compare that with the size of our military — our military which is 4 percent, 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.”

Israel’s health care system is an instructive exercise in all that rankles American conservatives — replete with government mandates, price controls and centralized payments funded mostly by high taxes. {…}

So how’s the socialized approach working out?

Quite well. Israel covers all residents and spends 8 percent of its national product on health care; the U.S. currently spends 17.5 percent and has many uninsured. Nor are Israelis resigned to low quality care or long waits that some associate with government-run systems: according to the Jewish Daily Forward, “going by many indexes of health outcomes, the result in terms of quality of care [in Israel] is often better — and definitely cheaper than in the U.S.”

A 2010 study in Health Affairs describes “strong government influence” over its system has been the catalyst for Israel’s low health spending growth since the 1995 reforms.

This international tour, designed to show Mitt Romney can run with the big dogs on the national stage, has done exactly the opposite. He has shown all the grace of Godzilla on a stroll through Japan where every swing of his tail takes out another building.

Not ready for prime time.

Not ready for international politics.

Not ready to be the president.

Not. Even. Close.