I am late to the party on this business of Romney's alleged gaffes in Israel, but I find the "culture question" interesting. Some on the left, along with Palestinian "leadership," are claiming that Romney is a racist. This is hardly surprising given the fact that the most racist political movement in the west today, outside of political Islam, is the progressive-left, which ironically enough flings around charges of racism like they are confetti.
What Romney said was this:
"If you could learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: Culture makes all the difference," he said, citing the work of historian David Landes, the author of the book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations."
"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 added. "One, I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place."
So he was praising Jewish culture for the success of Israel, while acknowledging "the hand of providence." Well, I don't know much about the hand of providence, but I find it refreshing that Romney is brave enough to stand up for Jewish culture and recognize that the success of Israel is mainly due to those cultures, the cultures of the Jewish people.
I fail to understand how progressive-left Jews, if they honestly have any self-respect, could take issue with such a statement. The two books involved in this unjust attack upon Romney are "Guns, Germs and Steel," by geographer Jared Diamond and "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," by economist David Landes. The first suggests that the wealth of nations is primarily a function of access to natural resources, while the latter stresses culture as a primary source of success.
It should seem fairly obvious to any thoughtful person that both are important to the economic success, or the economic failure, of any particular society. That's obvious, is it not? The United States has been a highly successful country because of natural resources and, in part, because of the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism as outlined by Max Weber's book of that title. Weber's famous book stressed culture and Landes owes him an intellectual debt, as I suspect Richard would agree.
Palestinian citizens of Israel are, in fact, among the most economically successful Arabs anywhere in the Middle East, which is why the majority of them have no desire to live under a Palestinian government. While progressives are calling Romney a "racist" and claiming that it is the occupation that is the reason for non-Israeli Palestinian economic failure, what they cannot explain is just why it is that so much of the rest of the Arab world is likewise an economic failure despite not being subject to those mean Jews.
The truth, of course, is that any culture that venerates death is going to result in a culture of poverty, despite access to resources. The Palestinians are not a failure because they are being oppressed by the Jews. The Palestinian economic failure is due to a culture which tells them that their highest ideal should be killing Jews as noble shaheeds doing the work of Allah (Hamas) or because they have simply been taught that the Jewish people have no legitimate rights to ancient Jewish land and therefore must be fought, tooth and nail (Fatah).
It could hardly be more obvious.
Until such a time as the Palestinians stop naming sports stadiums after murderers they are going to experience disproportionate poverty. It's just common sense. Furthermore, no economy that oppresses woman and gay people can possibly compete in today's world and be successful.
Has the "occupation" negatively effected the Palestinian economy in the Gaza and Judea and Samaria? I would assume so, but that is a direct consequence of allowing themselves to be used as the primary Arab weapon against the Jews of the Middle East. If the Palestinians would work with us Jews, rather than against us, then we could help them, but we cannot do anything for them so long as they continue to send rockets into Israel.
This is their choice and that choice derives from their culture, not from our guilt, as malicious progressives, and some Jewish progressives, would have you believe.