Beliefs Politics

GUEST COMMENTARY: Romney exposed his ignorance in the land of the prophets

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(RNS) Mitt Romney made history on Monday. In a single speech from Jerusalem, he proved beyond a reasonable doubt that to qualify to be a U.S. presidential candidate one needs precious little understanding of history, economics, or reality. Romney has just enough to be dangerous.

Mitt Romney speaking to supporters at a rally in Tempe, Arizona on April 20, 2012.

Mitt Romney speaking to supporters at a rally in Tempe, Arizona on April 20, 2012.

With no sense of the impediments Palestinians labor under, Romney compared Israel’s economic success to that of its Palestinian neighbors and claimed the discrepancy was due to “cultural” differences and the “hand of providence.” Such blatantly racist and bigoted references to the conflicting parties are only occasionally rivaled by Israel’s most right-wing politicians.

Given Palestine is part and parcel of an Arab culture that was the cradle of civilization, is home to the oldest cities in the world, and provided humanity with significant contributions towards the development of many “modern” sciences, such as physics, chemistry, medicine, mathematics and astronomy, one can only assume Romney sees no value in any of these – or is entirely ignorant of them. Instead, he views Israel as the “miracle,” a 64-year-old country that was built on the ruins and ashes of the indigenous Palestinians, many of whom refuse to submit to a continuing campaign of slow – and sometimes not so slow – removal from the land.

The likely GOP presidential nominee also overlooked the fact that the Arab world was home to the world’s three great monotheistic religions – Islam, Christianity, and Judaism – long before any modern state of Israel was even conceived.

As if these racist remarks were not enough, Romney uttered the magic conceptual ingredient, God. He said that he is “overwhelmingly impressed with the hand of providence (and how Israelis) are able to build and accomplish things that could only be done by a species created in the image of God.” This perverted reference seems to indicate that others, like Palestinians or even his own people, Americans, are of a lesser “species,” unable to match Israeli accomplishments.

Romney also praised Israel’s economic accomplishments while bashing the Palestinians’. The presidential candidate totally ignored the principal reason for the huge discrepancy between the Israeli and Palestinian economies: Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territory and total micromanagement of that economy. I suspect Bain Capital would not have succeeded had the Israeli government restrained its every effort. Furthermore, Israel’s economy is subsidized with over $3 billion in U.S. military aid every year. That military aid helps repress Palestinians.

Over the years, not only has Israel prohibited the emergence of a new Palestinian economy – it has structurally and systematically made certain that even the buds of such a productive economy would never see the light of day. Anyone who scratches the surface of all the political spin can see for themselves what the World Bank now repeats: that Israel's “apparatus of control” has “become more sophisticated and effective in its ability to interfere in and affect every aspect of Palestinian life, including job opportunities, work, and earnings … (turning) the West Bank into a fragmented set of social and economic islands or enclaves cut off from one another.” Besieged Gaza is in far worse shape than the West Bank. The International Monetary Fund and the European Union are making similar points.

Given that so many respected international organizations and analysts see reality for what it is, the question is what is being done about it. For Romney the answer to the Palestinians is crystal clear: Give up. After all, in his view Palestinians are “culturally” defective and God is on the other side.

As an American, before even speaking as a Palestinian, Romney scares me – seriously scares me. President Obama may have failed the Middle East in his first term as he picked up the pieces of eight years of damage caused by George W. Bush’s administration, but Romney has exposed his extraordinary American ignorance in the land of the prophets.

(Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business development consultant from the West Bank city of Al-Bireh. He blogs at


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Sam Bahour


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  • Thank you for your coherent appraisal of the dangerous blather of Mitt Romney. His racism toward Palestinians is only part of his overall racist attitudes and behaviors toward people of color. He believes that people who are not as rich or white as he is are a substandard species not favored by God. His comments are nothing less than a revision of the horrible beliefs that lead to eugenics, and the Nazi genocide of the Jews and the North American genocide of Native Americans, and the slavery and segregation of the United States. Germans believed Jews were culturally inferior. Repetition of this henious belief is a complete disgrace to the people of the United States and the world. We are trying to overcome social Darwinism and attitudes, beliefs and behaviors based on extreme prejudice, not perpetuate them. If the American people elect Mitt Romney for president, we will be the ones to carry the epithet of a lesser species.

  • I am disturbed that my comment of last night has not been posted (there were no comments when I visited this site). Please find the comment I spent minutes composing and post it!

  • The author’s view on Israel is clearly blinded by hate – while he has a point, i.e. that the worth and value of the Palestinian economy cannot be accurately measured while it is an occupied territory – he completely ignores the fact that the Palestinians, like most modern Arabs, are indeed culturally not suited to building economies of the type America, Israel, and Europe have in the past. To deny this, and worse, to see it as something “bad” shows a lack of historical and cultural knowledge, plus a desire to compare everyone to an arbitrary universal standard.

    Further, the “racist” slurs, while being a tried and tested technique of the left, is easily seen for the cheap ad-hom attacks that they are. It is far to easy to label someone ‘racist’ than to address their actual argument. Similarly with cheap attempts to denigrate your opponent to achieve your political ends (that’s directed at you, Ms. “Rabbi” Lynn the Democrat)

    There is also the argument that Arab culture was advanced in previous times. We’ve come a long way since then, Mr Bahour, a long way…Arab civilization is on the brink of collapse, and just because they influenced, very positively, the standard of civilization in the past, this is no longer the case. In fact, the Arab world is an example of what not to let happen to your society/civilization. It is being torn apart by successive civil wars.

  • I am now more indignant that you have failed to enter my properly attributed comment on this thread. If you post the ilk of “anon,” then you are obligated to post my comment. Please do so immediately!
    Robert H. Stiver

  • Sam Bahour is absolutely right in every respect. To gain an understanding of what Palestinians have to put up with on a daily basis, go to Read their daily updates and then try claiming that the Israel occupation forces and their crazy irregulars (so-called “settlers”) do not make economic development of Palestine impossible. The ultra-orthodox crazies in Israel view all goyim as sub-human – including Mitt “The Twit” Romney !! Your problem in the USA is that you have the most politically corrupt systemn in the world. Your political system has been bought and paid for time and again by the Zionist lobby. That is why Romney made such a stupid speech. He is singing the words they want to hear to his paymasters. Like some barely literate strolling minstrel of yesteryear he kowtows to his political massas.

  • As long as peace will be dependent on Arabs there won’t be a peace in Palestine. Jews depend themselves from Arab Islamic aggression and wars, and the Arabs want to annihilate the Jews from the face of the land of Israel. Arabs and Muslims as a whole don’t see peace as a goal to be achieved but as a tool to forward their expansion plans.

  • Marijuana is mainly known as a artificial Canada, drug generally observed after two or three hours of smoking. Or perhaps, like Bill Clinton, they experimented with it’s consumption in limited amounts in a controlled environment. Physicians believe that marijuana contains healing officers behave signature is as effective as the card from the date of filing. While the medicine never affects two people exactly you claims, job turnover, and an overall drop in attitude towards work.

  • I’m sorry, but I would still vote for Romney, and see no other viable oipotns in our cast of candidates. I wish this weren’t true, but must face facts.a0Santorum is going to be crucified by the anti-religious left-and evena0Republicans who don’t like his invasive (not truly) moral standards.a0Trust me I lived through the Kick Rick Out campaign in 2006, and they beat him down bad. Perry will alsoa0get beat up by the left for all manner of his conservativeness and his performance in the early debates, and thena0get skewered in debates with Obama.a0 Gingrich is smart, but not savvy. I’d say he is whining enough now to lose any hopes he had. I won’t even talk Hunstman, and what’s left? OH, Paul.Forget about him. If he wins or runs as 3rd party, I will simply shoot myself. I am depressed enough without listening to all of the infighting, and the laughing by the left.I would hope thata0Romney the Rinoa0would pick a running mate of highest conservative values- such as West-or my dream ticket- Rubio! Now that I hear this, I suppose West would not be on that list, but if he would he would have my gratitude!God Help Us.