Speaking to his donors, Romney repeated that thought, adding that “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.”The media has been quick to quote Saeb Erekat's response to Romney:
"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.But of course, Romney is correct: Israel's success is due to its culture.
For his part, Erekat had no choice but fall back on the same excuse for the failure of the Abbas regime. Rather than take responsibility for the corruption and incompetence of the Palestinian Authority, Erekat does what he does best: blame Israel.
No one asked Erekat to explain where all the money handed over to the Palestinian Authority has gone. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have wasted billions of dollars:
According to Jim Zanotti of the Congressional Research Service, Uncle Sam has given the Palestinians $5 billion since 1994. We might as well have lit a match to most of it. It hasn’t gotten to the people who might’ve used it best; it’s simply served as personal financial lubricant for the folks in power.And that is just counting the US dollars wasted on the Palestinian Arabs.
More to the point, wasting opportunities has been a Palestinian specialty. For instance, Efraim Karsh has written about the success of Palestinian Arabs before the Intifada:
The larger part, still untold in all its detail, is of the astounding social and economic progress made by the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli "oppression." At the inception of the occupation, conditions in the territories were quite dire. Life expectancy was low; malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife; and the level of education was very poor. Prior to the 1967 war, fewer than 60 percent of all male adults had been employed, with unemployment among refugees running as high as 83 percent. Within a brief period after the war, Israeli occupation had led to dramatic improvements in general well-being, placing the population of the territories ahead of most of their Arab neighbors.CAMERA also notes the success the Palestinians had and squandered:
...During the 1970's, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world-ahead of such "wonders" as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. [emphasis added]
the Palestinian territories had one of the ten fastest growing economies during the 1970's, just behind Saudi Arabia (which benefitted from the oil shock of 1973), and ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. (World Bank, ratio of real per capita GNP in 1980 to real per capita GNP in 1970)This is all based on the publication by The World Bank: Developing the Occupied Territories: An Investment in Peace
And yet, despite the Intifada, during the 1990's, things were looking up again. Check out this article from March 1995: Soon The Gaza Strip Will Be Competing With Singapore. There were plans for
industrial parks which the leadership of the [Israeli] Foreign, Industry and Finance Ministries is planning at this very moment, under total secrecy. The goal: to establish between 8 to 11 such parks on the cease-fire line between Israel and the autonomous areas, which the Palestinian Authority will control within the next few months.But the Palestinians, in this case Hamas, blew that too.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is the one who envisioned all this, and those close to him say with pride: We are getting closer to Singapore, Taiwan and Hong-Kong, in huge steps.
And then, after the vision arrives to develop the cities Gaza, Dir Al- Balah, Ofakim and Sderot it will be copied in the cease-fire line between Afula and Jenin, to Mt. Hebron and Tul-Karm, and will reach the entrance of Kochav Yair.
Each industrial park will be established for about 10,000 employees, and will sit on 2,000 dunam of land, with considerable financial assistance from foreign investors and also governmental subsidies. The Palestinians will run them, and be its workers, for the most part.
The failure of the Palestinian Authority is its own--not that you would expect them to take responsibility for their own mistakes.
Erekat speaks for the Palestinian leadership when he continues to blame Israel for what should be obvious to anyone who follows the news: the Palestinian Arabs have only their own bad choices to blame.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Mitt Romney and Election 2012.