Mitt Romney did something very important in Israel—he linked economic success to cultural values. Needless to say, the liberal media and lefty intellectuals are outraged! How dare he!
What Romney basically said is that a country's cultural values are key in determining whether the country is economically successful. He was speaking to Jewish donors, and he praised the economic success of Israel. But he never referred to “Jewish culture,” as it was claimed by Romney detractors. (I can't see why it would have been so shocking if he had referred to Jewish culture. But that's another issue.)
Here is the quote, as reported by the Associated Press (you’ll have to scroll down on this link):
“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, 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," the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.
Romney said some economic histories have theorized that "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, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence." He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.
I love it that Romney said that “thriving in difficult circumstances” promotes economic success. The “hand of providence” was particularly felicitous touch. But the Palestinians, who are much poorer than the Israelis, are furious.
Lefty academic Juan Cole’s high dudgeon was predictable:
Romney, a privileged white man worth a quarter of a billion dollars who has sheltered his money from taxes in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, and who never misses a square meal, stooped to a new obscene low in blaming the victim on Monday by slamming the Palestinians for not being richer. Palestinian politician Saeb Erekat characterized Romney’s remarks as “racist,” but even that was charitable. Evil, is more like it.
Cole cites U.S. aid to Israel, but aid is also given to the Palestinians.
Whatever you think of the origins of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, is it too much to suggest that Palestinians might have some responsibility for their own economies? Indeed, we all, though many on the left would deny this, have some responsibility for our financial situations. This is not to say that life is fair or that we don’t often suffer from circumstances beyond our control. But, as Charles Murray shows in his new book, Coming Apart, our culture, and our actionsbased on cultural values, play a role in determining whether we thrive economically.
Romney is probably right to apologize to the Palestinians. Why offend them during the months leading up to the election? But I hope, when it comes to dealing with poverty in our country, if he is the next president, he’ll remember that culture must be factored in to any solution.
The Obama administration always goes first to the all-purpose liberal solution to any problem: Throw some money, preferably large sums, at it. Romney indicated in his remarks in Israel that he understands that one’s culture is key.
By the way, except for the contretemps in London, Romney’s trip abroad has been a huge success, something you’d never guess from the mainstream media. No, he didn’t promise to save the planet at the Brandenburg Gate, but he garnered praise from Polish hero Lech Walesa and shone in Israel.