The other day the Knish wrote on his blog regarding the Romney trip to Israel and the nontroversy about Palestinian culture and their low GDP “What Romney didn’t mention, but should have, is that the Palestinian Authority dealt yet another blow to its economy when it drove out the Christian population. Christians in the territories have traditionally made the best businessmen and the capital of the Palestinian Authority was actually started by Jordanian Christian refugees escaping Muslim persecution. And their decline follows a pattern of Christian communities across the Middle East declining and disappearing under Muslim rule.” As for Obama v. Israel – just give him a second term and he will make Jimmy Carter and James Baker seem like fervent Zionists.
by Bret Stephens
Mitt Romney infuriated Palestinians during his visit to Israel on the weekend by calling Jerusalem “the capital of Israel.” He then added insult to injury by noting—in the context of a discussion of “culture”—the “dramatically stark difference in economic vitality” between Israelis and Palestinians. A Palestinian official called the remark “racist.”
I’m beginning to warm to Mitt.
We live in a time when being pro-Israel has become a key test of a candidate’s presidential fitness, and rightly so. George W. Bush passed that test on a helicopter ride over Israel with Ariel Sharon in 1999. Barack Obama tried to do the same when he paid homage to the besieged Israeli town of Sderot in 2008.
By contrast, Jimmy Carter thinks Israel is a virtual apartheid state, which is just the sort of thought that makes Carter Carter. To be anti-Israel doesn’t absolutely, positively, make you an anti-Semite. But it does mark you out as something between a moron and a crank.
President Obama has yet to do anything toward Israel that would put him in the Carter league—quite. But give him a second term. Perhaps his performance so far has been only an overture.Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.
This performance includes unprecedented personal chilliness toward the Israeli prime minister; unprecedented warmth toward Turkey’s anti-Israel prime minister; an unprecedented effort to put diplomatic distance between the U.S. and Israel; and, more recently, an unprecedented campaign of intelligence and military leaks designed to stay Israel’s hand against Iran. The president only seems to get right with Israel when he senses he’s in political trouble, or when his fundraising efforts lag, or when there’s a big Aipac speech to deliver. Last week, Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, couldn’t bring himself to name Israel’s capital when asked at a briefing. Why?
You hear a lot of theories trying to explain this, often centered on Mr. Obama’s past friendships with the likes of Prof. Rashid Khalidi, Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Rabbi Arnold Wolf, the late firebrand of the Jewish far left. I have a simpler theory: The president’s views are of a piece with the broader left-right debate on the nature of success.
When detractors think about Israel, they tend to think its successes are largely ill-gotten: Somebody else’s land, somebody else’s money, somebody else’s rights. It’s the view that Israel gets an unfair share of foreign aid from the U.S., and that it takes an unfair share of territory from the Palestinians. It’s also the view that, as the presumptive stronger party in its dealings with the Palestinians, Israel bears the onus of making concessions and taking the proverbial risks for peace. As the supposed underdogs, Palestinians are not burdened by any reciprocal moral obligations.
By contrast, when admirers of Israel visit the country, they typically marvel at everything it has planted, built, invented, re-imagined, restored, saved. Israel’s friends think that the country has earned its success the hard way, and that it deserves to reap the rewards. Hence Mitt Romney on Sunday: “You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism. . . . What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people.”
Animating one side of this divide is a sense of admiration. Animating the other is a sense of envy. Could Mr. Obama have uttered lines like Mitt Romney’s? Maybe. But you get the feeling that scrolling in the back of his mind would be the words, “You didn’t build that.”
Does this mean that Mr. Obama is “anti-Israel” in the most invidious sense? Mr. Obama seems sincere when he speaks of his admiration for Israeli kibbutzim, or his outrage at Holocaust denial, or his solidarity with Israeli victims of terrorism. And he seems more than sincere in his desire to return Israel to something approximating its 1967 borders.
But all this amounts to a form of nostalgia for the Israel that once was—the plucky underdog, the proud member of the Socialist International. And Israel isn’t going back there any more.
Mr. Romney’s attitude toward Israel seems to come from a different place. He admires the country as much for where it’s going as for where it has come from. And he’s not prepared to give Palestinians an automatic pass for their failure to do something with the political and economic opportunities they’ve been given. Israeli success, in his mind, is earned—and so is Palestinian failure.
Mr. Romney has a history as an eminently malleable politician, and the views he has offered on Israel have, so far, been politically risk-free. How would he act as president? Who knows, although it would be unthinkable for any Republican president today to seek to strong-arm or publicly humiliate Jerusalem the way Jim Baker did during the George H.W. Bush presidency.
Yet beyond that, one sensed in Mr. Romney’s speech in Jerusalem qualities of conviction and sincerity—two of his lesser known traits. Keep that up, governor, and you may yet win this election.
Read the rest - Mitt versus Barack on Israel
Dr.K. says (and I agree) that Romney showed more then enough competence to be the leader of the Free World, despite the media’s attempts to, make it seem like it was one gaffe (God how I hate that term) after another. There was nothing that Romney said that was not true.
by Charles Krauthammer
At the outset of his recent foreign trip, Mitt Romney committed a gaffe. In answer to a question about the Olympics, he expressed skepticism about London’s preparations. The response confounded and agitated Romney supporters because it was such an unforced error. The question invited a simple paean to Olympic spirit and British grit, not the critical analysis of a former Olympic organizer.
Soon that initial stumble was transmuted into a metaphor for everything that followed. The mainstream media decided with near unanimity that the rest of the trip amounted to a gaffe-prone disaster.
Really? The Warsaw leg was a triumph. Romney’s speech warmly embraced Poland’s post-Communist experiment as a stirring example of a nation committed to limited government at home and a close alliance with America abroad, even unto such godforsaken war zones as Afghanistan and Iraq, at great cost to itself and with little thanks.
Yet all we hear about Warsaw is the “gaffe”: two phrases uttered by an aide, both best described as microscopically rude. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a pack of reporters hurled questions of such journalistic sophistication as, “What about your gaffes?” To which Rick Gorka suggested that the reporters kiss his posterior, a rather charming invitation that would have made a superb photo op.
The other offense against human decency was Gorka’s correlative directive to “shove it.”
The horror! On the eve of the 2004 Democratic Convention, Teresa Heinz Kerry offered precisely that anatomically risky suggestion to an insistent Pittsburgh journalist. Not only did she later express no regret, but Hillary Clinton reacted with: “Good for you, you go girl.”
So where’s the Romney gaffe? Is what’s good for the Heinz not good for the Gorka?
And at his previous stop in Jerusalem, Romney’s speech was a masterpiece of nuance and restraint. Without directly criticizing Obama, Romney drew pointed distinctions deftly expressed in the code words and curlicued diction of Middle East diplomacy.
He declared flatly that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The official Obama position is that Israel’s capital is to be determined in negotiations with the Palestinians. On Iran, Romney asserted that Israel has the right to defend itself. Obama says this as boilerplate. Romney made clear he means it — that if Israel has to attack, the U.S. won’t flash the red light before nor punish Israel afterward.
What about the alleged gaffe that dominated reporting from Israel? Romney averred that Israeli and Palestinian economic development might be related to culture. A Palestinian Authority spokesman obligingly jumped forth to accuse Romney of racism, among other thought crimes.
The American media bought it whole, despite the fact that Romney’s assertion was a direct echo of the U.N. Arab Human Development Report, written by Arab intellectuals and commissioned by the U.N. It unambiguously asserted that “culture and values are the soul of development.” And went on to report how existing cultural norms — “including traditional Arab culture and values” — are among the major impediments to Arab economic progress.
Romney’s point about “culture” was to highlight the improbable emergence of Israel from resourceless semi-desert to First World “startup nation,” a tribute to its freedom and openness.
Look at how Romney was received. In Israel, its popular prime minister lavished on him a welcome so warm as to be a near-endorsement. In Poland, Romney received an actual endorsement from Lech Walesa, former dissident, former president, Cold War giant, Polish hero. Yet the headlines were “shove it” and “culture.”
Scorecard? Romney’s trip was a major substantive success: one gaffe (Britain), two triumphs (Israel and Poland), and a fine demonstration of foreign-policy fluency and command — wrapped, however, in a media narrative of surpassing triviality.
Read the rest – Romney’s Excellent Trip