Romney exposed his ignorance of Israel and Palestinians

Romney exposed his ignorance in the land of the prophets

By Sam Bahour| Religion News Service, Published: August 1 | Updated: Thursday, August 2, 12:40 AM

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.

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 monolithic 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

(Original here.)





One comment

  1. Ivan Himmelhoch

    I dislike mentioning my M.Div (Hons) degree – but I have to here for one reason. It (hopefully) has made me very reluctant to cherry-pick *any* faith’s scriptures.

    We never studied Mormonism. So my research is not peer reviewed.

    With the above caveats, I feel that a great deal of research can follow from Sam Bahour’s article – read with thanks. The books and doctrines held holy and sacred by mainstream Mormonism are freely available online. To their credit. But the more I have read about their theology of ‘Israel’ the more I am concerned that unless Mitt Romney were to renounce a very great deal, he would, with one exception, be the most savagely pro-Zionist US President ever elected – if he succeeds.

    Research I have done preparing for a paper on this theme has included reading how their Ensign Magazine of May 1972, cited approvingly from Sachar’s “The Course of Modern Jewish History” (World Pub Co. Cleveland, 1958, p. 63), stating:-

    “As the end of the Palestine mandate drew near, the Arab states bordering the Yishuv [Palestine], began to issue warnings to the Arabs of Palestine; they were told to clear out, to leave a clear field for Arab military operations, to seek temporary refuge in neighboring Arab lands. According to Arab League propaganda, there would be sufficient opportunity for all émigrés to return, once the Jews had been driven into the sea.”

    I stand corrected if wrong, but this imaginary ‘directive’ referred to, has never been corrected in later ‘Ensigns’ or other Mormon literature.

    And the exception? Their 2nd Book of Nephi, Chapter 30:7 unambiguously reads:

    “And it shall come to pass that the ‘Jews which are scattered also shall “Begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a righteous people”.

    Go figure how Romney will explain this to AIPAC et al!

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