Palestinian officials on Monday accused presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of racism after he told wealthy donors — including billionaire Sheldon Adelson — that Israelis were more economically successful because of their culture and intervention by God.
“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 remarked at a $25,000-a-plate fundraiser, adding that a climate of innovation and the “hand of providence” also played a part.
“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,” he said.
According to the CIA, Israelis had a 2011 per capital income of $31,400, while Palestinians had a per capita income of just $2,900.
“What is this man doing here?” Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told The Associated Press. “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?”
Activists have long said that Israel’s restrictions on trade and strict border blockade are responsible for crippling the Palestinian economy.
“Mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price rises caused by shortages have left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid,” Amnesty International estimated in 2010. “As a form of collective punishment, Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law.”
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