Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Mitt Romney’s economic history of Israel and Palestine

by pdxblake

The NYT has good analysis of Mitt Romney’s open-mouth-insert-foot moment from Israel where he diminished the difference in GDP per capita between Israel and Palestine, and then suggested that there were reasons including “cultural differences” and “divine providence” that explained the difference.  The NYT The Caucus blog describes:

Speaking to roughly four dozen donors at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Mr. Romney suggested that cultural differences between the Israelis and the Palestinians were the reason the Israelis were so much more economically successful than the Palestinians, without mentioning the impact that deep trade restrictions imposed by the Israeli government have had on the Palestinian economy. He also vastly understated the income disparities between the two groups.

Romney’s comments were not well received by the Palestinian Authority:

In an interview with the Associated Press, Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, called Mr. Romney’s remarks “racist.”

“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,” Mr. Erekat said. “It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people.”

The NY Times did their part to follow up with the Romney campaign for clarification about the economic impact of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the not-too-distant economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, but got no response from the Romney campaign.

On Monday afternoon, Romney campaign officials did not respond to a query about whether Mr. Romney believes that the blockade of Gaza or trade restrictions in the West Bank have had any dampening effect on economic activity in those areas.

Apart from the specific minefield that Romney ventured into, it appears that he might be suffering in part because he lost his foreign policy advisor to the culture wars in the US.