Fast forward to 2012. Mitt Romney, having locked up the Republican nod to challenge Obama, is now on a world tour of his own. But the crowds just aren't there. A corporate raider just doesn't have the chic of acommunity organizer.
And better for Obama's chances, the former Governor of Massachusetts keeps putting his foot in it. First, he criticized the organizers of the London Games now on. Fair enough -- having to bring in the troops when a security company can't get its act together is definitely a cause for concern.
But then he visits Israel. And here's where it gets interesting. First, as Obama has, Romney said that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel. That will get out the vote, but as no country in the world I'm aware of even recognizes the country's claim to West Jerusalem (instead adopting the official position of corpus separatum) it's not one that can be really put into practice, yet (sixty years plus on).
But second -- and here's where it gets fun -- Romney attempted a comparison between the relative wealth of Israel and the West Bank; noting the per capita GDP in Israel is twice the size of that in the Palestinian areas. Romney's next line: "Culture makes all the difference."
Wow. This ranks right up there with Ralph Nader calling Obama an "Uncle Tom."
And this before one of Romney's aides told reporters to "kiss my ass" -- just after Romney arrived in Warsaw.
Yes, terrorist elements -- both organized and lone wolves -- have hindered Palestine a great deal. But so have the restrictions on movements of all non-settlement residents of the Bank as well as Gaza. When you have to go through several checkpoints to get to work, while those living in the illegal exclaves as well as tourists can get around as fast as one could in Israel proper, then of course economic development will be hindered.
But to call it a "matter of culture"? This sounds like those who fought against civil rights for blacks in the 1950s and 60s. "Wait." "Sit down, boy." "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" And other sorts of crap.
Christians have a special duty to stand up for God's Chosen People. We also have a responsiblity to stand up for the rights of law-abiding Palestinians, too -- including those who are Christians -- both in the occupied lands and in Israel proper. The toll on Christians has been especially stark. In just two generations the percentage of Christians in the area has dropped from about 20% to just 2.1% -- nearly 90 percent.
So here are some questions worth asking Mitt Romney:
- What does Romney find so offensive about the Palestinians' "culture" and what he perceives as their "inability" to raise their standard of living?
- How does he feel about the refugee situation -- not just Muslims, but Christians and other groups caught on the wrong side of the fence?
- Does he favour continuing foreign aid to a first world country with a less than stellar human rights record -- or does he think Israel is entitled to a free pass just as his own country often believes it's entitled to? Trade should be linked to respect for rights, not to religion or a lack thereof.
- Does he favour a contigous West Bank with land swaps, or one pot-marked by "settlements" as part of a final status settlement? (This isn't Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog on the Netherlands-Belgium border, after all -- a geographic curiosity in Europe but one that's been left alone. Heck, even India and Bangladesh have finally agreed to mostly resolve the preposterous situation in Cooch-Behar where there were a total of 202 enclaves sprinkled within each other's territories; that will be reduced to just 40.) Put it this way -- would the West tolerate Palestine having it illegally occupy parts of Israel, say Sderot, Nazareth or Meggido (Armaggedon)? This is an inherent double standard.
- Lastly, as democracy continues to spread across the Middle East, will he favour extending free trade arrangements
I wonder if Auschwitz - Birkenau is on Romney's schedule, and what could possibly happen there. If JP2 hadn't ordered a Catholic convent to get the hell out of the area on the perimeter, would Romney (a Mormon) have preferred the convent over the camp. Just asking.