This is an impressive feat. Mitt Romney managed to insult both sides of a contentious cultural struggle. In an appearance at the King David Hotel with uber-wealthy donors, Romney explained that Israel is more successful than the Palestinians because of God and the superior Jewish culture.
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.”
Palestinians instantly responded by pointing out that they haven’t had a country for about 60 years and now only have semi-autonomous territories partially occupied by Israel, which makes it really hard to build an economic powerhouse.
But Jewish leaders are also objecting to Romney’s statements which sound awfully close to “you Jews are just so good with money.” As one observer put it:
It’s true that Israel has logged tremendous achievements, said Abraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Inter-Disciplinary Center outside of Tel Aviv. But “you can understand this remark in several ways,” he added. “You can say it’s anti-Semitic. `Jews and money.'”
It’s becoming a cliche that Mitt Romney is out of touch, but this highlights that problem. It’s easy to deliver the standard pro-Likud government, Republican stump speech — we are committed to defending our strategic partner, Israel is the longest lasting democracy in the region, etc. — but Romney just can’t help but try to make a personal connection and reveal that his understanding of the Jewish experience is limited to stereotypes outlined in stand-up routines from the 1970s.
I eagerly await the Romney campaign’s response that, “I wasn’t being anti-Semitic! Look, my accountant is Jewish!”