By Stuart Littlewood
Mitt Romney is listed among People magazine’s 50 ‘most beautiful’ of 2002. He was up there with Nicole Kidman, Britney Spears and Julia Roberts. But how pretty does he look in 2012?
This US presidential hopeful from AIPAC’s Republican wing came here to England and put his foot in it by questioning Britain‘s readiness to host the Olympics. We were already on the case, thank-you Mr Romney. But please remember that it’s largely America’s misbehaviour around the world that puts such a colossal strain on Olympic security and makes other nations’ teams so nervous.
His remarks drew some sharp responses, and thus began a series of “mis-steps” that characterized the presidential candidate’s misadventure into the wider world and culminated in an unforgettable “kiss my ass” invitation by one of his campaign aides. Mis-steps is a curiously polite US word that seems to be gaining currency here. It conjures up the erratic progress of a stumblebum.
No surprise that while in London he met with the Quartet’s zio-stooge Tony Blair to have his mind further poisoned and confused.
Romney then went to Israel to annoy the Palestinians by stating the bleedin’ obvious – that the Israeli economy had outpaced the Palestinians’ – and suggesting that this phenomenon could be explained by the superior “culture”.
He came to a fundraiser attended by the mega-rich at the King David Hotel Jerusalem with, he said, "a sense of profound humility". After all, he was expecting a nice fat cheque for $1 million. Was he aware that this is the same King David Hotel that was blown up by a Jewish terror gang in 1946 when it served as the British administration’s headquarters, murdering 91?
That infamous attack had Menachem Begin’s fingerprints all over it and was one of the deadliest bombings in the Arab-Israel conflict. Begin of course went on to become an Israeli prime minister, having all the qualifications.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz observed that Romney’s speech “sounded as if it could have been written by Netanyahu’s bureau”. He said: “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.”
This brilliant analysis is apparently based on a book Romney had read called “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” in his search for reasons why two neighbouring places have such disparate prosperity. “Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference,” he said, this being his conclusion.
A few weeks ago a World Bank report said that the Palestinian economy’s modest growth was not sustainable because it was driven by aid – it was artificial and therefore not strong enough to support statehood. Before that, an Israeli government report had said the Palestinian set-up was not economically stable enough to support a state. And why would that be? Because Israel is pulling every dirty trick imaginable to impoverish and incapacitate the Occupied Territories and keep them in subjugation.
Given their freedom like other people the Palestinians of course could stand on their own feet and would not need Western taxpayer support.
Had Romney spent as much time in Palestine as he did in Israel he could have discovered the truth first-hand. He’d have seen the bleedin’ obvious – that the reason the Palestinian economy is on it knees has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with the illegal and brutal military occupation, and the fact that donor countries like the US, Britain and the EU have been propping up and perpetuating the occupation for decades. How can the Palestinians prosper when the Israelis won’t allow them to export or import or otherwise do business freely with the outside world?
As for Palestine’s weakening agricultural sector what has happened to their water? It’s been stolen and the Israelis are filling their swimming pools and washing their cars with it and channeling it to their own agricultural crops on confiscated Palestinian land, while the Palestinian farmers’ supply is down to a trickle.
And are Palestinians allowed to develop their own energy resource – the Gaza offshore gas field? No. Israel is trying to steal that too.
Romney also ignores the endless checkpoints and other restrictions that block freedom of movement and commerce within the Occupied Territories. It’s bleedin’ obvious the Palestinians can’t grow their economy until they shake off Israel’s shackles. The dimmest American politician, surely, can figure that out.
But it suits the West’s corrupted political class to let the evil continue.
Romney scheduled a very brief meeting with the Palestinian Authority’s unelected prime minister Salam Fayyad and laced it with a second insult by not traveling to Ramallah. Did he pop over to Gaza and shoot the breeze with Haniyeh and Al-Zahar? Nah, such a reality-check would have been too much for a sheltered Republican softie.
Instead he donned the obligatory kippah for the Zionist cameras and hasbara scribes and prayed at the Western Wall. He met Netanyahu, Israel’s belligerent prime minister. One of Romney’s senior policy adviser promised support for a unilateral military strike by Israel, which has some 400 nuclear warheads, against Iran which has none… notwithstanding that the Israeli regime is considered by more and more people to be clinically mad.
And to underscore his ignorance he declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. Well, Israel would certainly like Jerusalem to be its capital and for everyone in the world to acknowledge it, but few do for very good reason.
“All I can say is that this man needs a lot of education,” said Saeb Erekat, top Palestinian Authority negotiator. “He doesn’t know the region, he doesn’t know Israelis, he doesn’t know Palestinians, and to talk about the Palestinians as an inferior culture is really a racist statement,” At last, here’s something Erekat says that we can agree with.
Romney’s visit to Poland on the final leg of his visit to the real world was hardly a public affairs triumph either, according to the BBC. As Mark Mardell reported, “even his press team finds it difficult to respond to the most basic inquiries about what their candidate has said”. And Romney’s press secretary spectacularly lost his rag with reporters and refused to answer questions after their visit to Warsaw’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “Shove it” and “kiss my ass”, he told reporters.
Far better if glamour-boy Romney had stayed home to irritate the good people of Massachusetts. I thought we Brits were hard up for political talent. But, dear God, is this charmless individual the best presidential material our American friends can offer a world that cries out for integrity and courageous leadership?
As I was about to file this, an email from JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace) arrived with the text of an open letter to Romney, which they hope to deliver at the end of the week. It says:
“To Governor Mitt Romney,
“Your statements in Jerusalem regarding the growth of the Palestinian and Israeli economies were inaccurate and misleading. Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian land makes it impossible for the Palestinian economy to succeed, not ‘cultural differences.’ Your comments were not a reflection of the values Jews, Americans, and our allies hold dear. We call on you to apologize to the Palestinian people for your willful lack of understanding of the facts on the ground and the racist assumptions behind them.”
JVP also point out that Romney managed to get his facts completely wrong in claiming the Israeli GDP is twice that of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, when it is actually about ten times greater.
– Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine can now be read on the internet by visiting www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk . He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.