Romney Credits “Culture,” “Hand of Providence” for Israel’s Economic Superiority over Palestinians

While at a fundraiser with wealthy donors in Jerusalem, Mitt Romney continued his worldwide tour of anti-diplomacy. This time, although it can’t be a huge surprise given his track record, he’s managed to attribute the vast economic disparity between Israel and the occupied terrorities to the specialness of the Jews, citing “the power of at least culture and a few other things,” including “the hand of providence.”

Via the AP:

Having publicly pledged a “solemn duty and moral imperative” to protect Israel, Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the nearby Palestinians.

“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,” the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who breakfasted around a U-shaped table at the luxurious King David Hotel.

The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater. 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.

Romney, seated next to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson at the head of the table, said he had read books and relied on his own business experience to understand why the difference is so great.

“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,” Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the “hand of providence.”

The reaction of Palestinian leaders was quick and strong.

“What is this man doing here? Yesterday, he destroyed negotiations by saying Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and today he is saying Israeli culture is more advanced than Palestinian culture. Isn’t this racism? Israelis and Palestinians have a conflict, but they are people, they are equal, it is not a better culture or advanced culture,” said Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian official.

In Haaretz, Barak Ravid writes:

[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu embraced Romney as no Israeli prime minister has ever before embraced a candidate running against an incumbent U.S. president: Aside from their working meeting in the morning, Netanyahu also hosted Romney and his wife and sons for dinner at his official residence.

Romney’s entire visit to Israel was born in the Prime Minister’s Office. According to Tablet Magazine, those who cooked up the visit over breakfasts at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem a month ago were Romney’s adviser Dan Senor and Netanyahu’s adviser, Ron Dermer, who himself hails from a Republican family in Miami.

The two clandestinely planned the visit in order to preempt Barak Obama visiting Israel before the Republican candidate. Senor and Dermer decided to give the scoop on the visit to the New York Times.