Romney Smears Palestinians With Bigotry Strategy

If you had any doubt that bigotry is a Romney campaign strategy, today's comments from a Romney speech to campaign donors in Israel should just may shatter your unicorns-and-fairies view of the world. Romney, a keen observer of all things having to do with money, shared with a group of wealthy donors the reason the Paletinian people are so much poorer than Israeli Jews: It's their "culture."

Here, from Benjy Sarlin at TPM:

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, 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.”


“Culture makes all the difference,” Romney said. “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.” Among them, he cited “the hand of providence.”

All-righty, then. Palestinians are poor because: a) Their culture is inferior to that of the Jews; and b) they're Muslims, which means that God does not smile upon them.

Mainstream media will likely characterize this as a "gaffe" and give it one-day treatment in the news cycle. But this rings like a carefully crafted message.

First, it must be noted that Romney's visit to Israel is playing to two distinct audiences, one in Israel, and one back home. These include the very particular group of Jewish campaign donors (those who are hawkish on Israel) he addressed directly with these comments, and the evangelical Christian voters back home whose end-times theology informs their hawkish stance on Israel -- and many of whom hold strong anti-Muslim sentiments.

Hard to see how Romney's comments will hurt him with either of those constituencies. In fact, a Palestinian official's condemnation of Romney's statement as "racist" probably helps him with these groups. From the Associated Press:

"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Over the weekend, AlterNet published my piece on the Romney bigotry strategy: 12 Bigoted Taunts Peddled By Romney Camp and Allies. Looks like, as of today, we're up to #13.

* The AP also notes that Romney got the per capital GDP gulf between Israel and the territories managed by the Palestinian authority very wrong. The income gap between the two entities is much worse than Romney stated:

The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.

AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at July 30, 2012, 9:01am