Palestinian-American Slams Romney's 'Racism' in Washington Post Op-Ed
There’s been no shortage of smart responses to Mitt Romney’s tone-deaf comment in Israel that “culture makes all the difference,” and that culture is why the Israeli economy is stronger than Palestine’s.
The latest biting and sharp response comes from Zahi Khouri in a Washington Post Op-Ed published today. Khouri, a Palestinian-American Christian and a businessman, slams Romney’s “racist” comments and explains how “Palestinians have no say in our economic development.” Khouri notes that it is the stifiling occupation of the West Bank--with its roadblocks, checkpoints, settlements and soldiers--that hinders the Palestinian economy.
But first, Khouri gives Romney a lesson in history, and how Israel has appropriated Palestinian culture:
That’s right: Jaffa oranges are a Palestinian, not Israeli, trademark. Yet like so many “cultural” markers claimed by the self-professed Jewish state, even the fruit trees my people have tended for centuries have been expropriated.
Romney might be duped into thinking that oranges, falafel and hummus — staples of Palestinian cuisine for generations — are Israeli products. But how dare he claim that a state built at the expense of another people’s history and accomplishments is guided by “the hand of providence”?
Israel did not make the desert bloom. Instead, thanks to a deal struck with the British viceroys of Mandate Palestine, it made away with a land, a set of institutions and, indeed, a culture that was not its own.
It did so at the expense of my people. Like more than three-quarters of Palestine’s population, my family was forced to leave this land after Israel’s creation in 1948. Even though we had to abandon our successful businesses and centuries-old homes, however, we did not become the “uncultured” victims that Romney’s caricature suggests.
And here’s Khouri’s conclusion:
Palestinian development of all kinds is severely hindered by the Israeli occupation. Yet Palestinians have not given up. Palestine has one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world. Our youth continue to graduate from our universities, opening businesses and gaining skills. Our private sector innovates and grows.
All of this is happening on the 22 percent of historic Palestine that is the West Bank and Gaza. If Romney had any historical perspective, he would dispose of his racist judgments about Palestinian culture and instead imagine our potential without Israel’s imposed hindrances.