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JLeslie's avatar

What do you think about the comments Romney made about Israel and culture?

Asked by JLeslie (59578points) July 30th, 2012

Here is an article about it. Looks like he has offended the Palestinians.

Do you think:

- what he said is offensive?

- the Palestinians have a point, that it is a racist comment, and that he does not understand the real reason why there is such desparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians?

- his remarks have been twisted and misunderstood?

- Romney would make peace in the middle east more difficult if he were President? That he will not be received well?

Any other thoughts are welcome.

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17 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

His comments would only be true if the Palestinians didn’t have so many restrictions placed on them by Israel on trade.

zenvelo's avatar

He is pandering to the Israelis and their US supporters in order to get money from Adelson and to at least get American Jewry to stay out of the race. But he is no diplomat and if he is elected his relationship with the Middle East will be more problematic than it was with GW Bush.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Mitt Romney is NOT a business man, he is a Corporate Raider & in my opinion he is a total douchebag. He has no concept of the reality that the average American lives with on a daily basis & no concept of the reality of the rest of the world, especially the Mid-East. He is already promising to back up Israel if they decide to attack Iran, which means that if he is elected, more of our military personnel will be put in harm’s way & even more Iranian people will die. To me he is a psychopath, with no conscience or empathy to slow him down as he pursues his goals of money & power. He will say anything & do anything (except release his tax returns) in order to get elected.

filmfann's avatar

Obama is going to mop the floor with him in the debates.

ETpro's avatar

Romney made the overseas trip in an attempt to take the conversation off his taxes (or lack thereof) and go on a foreign policy offensive against Mr. Obama. It appears that he got his mords wixed. He showed that he has nothing close to the grasp of the world stage that Mr. Obama has, and that what he does say tends to be offensive to even out allies. Insulting the Brits about the Olympics was a tempest in a teapot. The deep gaffes in Israel are something else all together. He’s destroyed any hope he had of winning Jewish American support, and those Americans that care about foreign affairs and aren’t far-right ideologues yearning for Armageddon on the Temple Mount to bring back Jesus in the nuclear clouds are probably not going to be attracted to the bellicose rhetoric either.

tedd's avatar

I think much more overlooked is how he pointed out how much more efficient and cost saving the Israeli healthcare system is, and how ours in the US should strive to be like it…. apparently not realizing it’s government run in nearly every aspect.

flutherother's avatar

Mitt Romney’s purpose in going to Israel is to improve his chances of being elected. Everything he does and says is calculated to serve this end. His comments were crass and insensitive and probably racist to boot. I very much hope he is not elected.

tedd's avatar

@flutherother Yah, he’s like the Republican version of John Kerry. ... It’s kind of a scarily accurate comparison, lol.

mattbrowne's avatar

You all know that I prefer Obama over Romney. But in this case the answer to why the Israelis are a far more successful than the Palestinians does not just have to do with the displacement that happened decades ago and the ongoing occupation. It has to do with religion. Judaism like Christianity was able to evolve. Islam was already the “best” religion 1400 years ago. Islam according to its own core tenets can’t be improved. Pure Islam is the exact opposite of democracy and progress. This is why there wasn’t a single discovery or invention by a Muslim between the years 1350 and 1950. Just take the example of the number of Jewish Nobel prize winners divided by the number of Jewish people. And do the same for Muslims. A shocking difference. I think in total there are only 10 Muslims who won the Nobel Prize. Widespread dogmatic Islam is part of the problem of the Palestinians. And it will get worse in Egypt. The country is headed for 7th century barbarism.

tedd's avatar

@mattbrowne As a person who knows many muslims in my professional and personal life, you are dead wrong. Some of the smartest, most dedicated, and most successful research professors I had in college were Muslims.

Religion is an excuse, the reason Muslims have a “shocking difference” in categories like the Nobel peace prize are things such as most Muslims being located in hell holes, and plain old biases by the people giving out the awards.

flutherother's avatar

@mattbrowne Saying the comparative poverty of the Palestinians is due to ‘religion’ is no better than saying it is due to ‘culture’. As you yourself said the ‘displacement’ and the ongoing occupation have a lot to do with it and I would add the effects of the Israeli blockade.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd I think probably culture is part of the reason, but not the total reason, it is very complicated, and religious zealots of all religions are a problem in my opinion. The usual goal of the extremely fanatic religious is to control people and they generaly seek power.

There are so many Muslims in the world, that enough of them live in good conditions that you can compare how well they do. The Jews happen to outshine Christians also when it comes to Nobel prizes, Jews having won something like 20% of them and only being one quarter of one percent of the world population. Culturally Jews around the world value education, curiosity, questioning, debate, and a very large minority of them, estimated to be around 40% are secular/atheists. I recently wondered how the Nobel prizes divide up among Jews when comparing Ashkenazi to Sephardic? This would be even a further look into cultural differences within a specific group, and possibly the role of the cultures within the countries they live in.

The Muslims I know personally, who I went to school or worked with, are all wonderful, smart, hard working, most have higher educations, regular Americans just like myself. Their families sought America for our freedom and opportunity and secular government. But, in countries that theocracy rules, Muslim countries, there seems to be some troubles. Maybe there is an example of a theocratic government that the people are free and there is equality? I am not very knowledgeable on these things. It begs to ask if the culture in the countries affect how well the people do, or if the situation in the country affects the culture. I am sure it is both. I think culture and religiosity is more significant than a specific religion personally.

I do think Romney screwed up. I don’t like that he made the statement about culture, and I don’t like that he thinks Israel is prosperous because of “the hand of providence.” I compare it to sociological conversations in America about black culture and most of the time black people and even other white people find the conversation to be offensive, racist and xenophobic. So, as a politician, and possible future diplomat, he made a big mistake I think. If he was just having a sociological debate about such things on futher, it would have been fine.

tedd's avatar

@JLeslie Your example seems to prove my argument. You said the Muslims you know personally are great people, but that in theocratic muslim countries there are troubles. That’s my point exactly, it doesn’t have anything to do with the religion involved, but much more to do with the other Geo-political factors such as government type and quality of life.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd But, it seems that the Palestinians are led by theocrats in that region. Not all of them of course, but enough to vote in Hamas. The Palestinians I know hate Hamas. They are critical of some things Israel has done, as am I, as are Israelis I know. Nothing wrong with being critical of both sides, as I agreed it is complicated, The Palestians who are most extreme and least willing to negotiate seem to be the ultra religious, same with the Israelis.

Do you think if all the Jews moved outof the region and gave up Israel all of a sudden all the strife in the middle east would dissappear? That everyone’s life there would suddeny change? That governments would change to democracies and secular regimes? It is not all Israel’s fault. There are cultural and religious differences even when they are not at war over land.

tedd's avatar

@JLeslie Well yes they voted in a theocratic based ruling party, but you again have to look at where these people are. They’re in a crappy part of the world, they’ve been subjugated for the better part of 60 years, they haven’t got a whole lot going for them… so it doesn’t surprise me that in their drastic situations they turned to fanatics within their religion. I think that if the Palestinians were a Christian based people instead, you’d have the exact same problem if they were faced with the same circumstances.

And I never said word one about Israel and the Jews being the problem in the middle east (though I would point out that Palestine was a pretty peaceful country until the Jews invaded). The middle east itself is a hell hole, full of warlords, dictators, and frankly abused by the rest of the world for it’s resources… To pin those conditions on the religion though is idiotic.

JLeslie's avatar

@tedd They use the religion to help control the people. If the people turned their back on religion, they would not have that control. It is the exact same with Christianity, believe me, I am not picking on the Muslim faith. The Christians in America who seem hell bent in putting religion into government and laws and call this a Christian country, I cannot for the life of me understand how they don’t see that any theocracy, Muslim or Christian, is just that, a theocracy.

mattbrowne's avatar

I also know many smart, dedicated, peace-loving Muslims. And they are wonderful people. Muslims are a problem for us exactly to the degree to which they understand their religion and take it seriously. The core tenets of Islam are very evil, and I’m very glad that most Muslims choose to ignore them, especially the Muslims in the West. In the Arab world the situation is different. The number of Muslims who support the original 7th-century-barbarism version is much larger. And this number is growing because we buy oil from Saudi Arabia and they use our money to spread orthodox Islam, which is the real Islam as intended by the Quran and the Sunnah. And this real Islam which is very evil can’t be modified and anyone who attempts to do this gets killed or has to go into hiding.

Muhammad’s personal hatred for Jews led him to declare that the Final Hour will not come until Muslims slaughter Jews, and even the rocks and trees will betray the Jews hiding behind them. In the Qur’an we find the following verse: “God has cursed the Jews, transforming them into apes and swine and those who serve the devil.” [Qur’an 5:60]
Many Muslims suffer from an irrational fear of the Jews. Some Muslim children are taught that the Jews are evil, that they eat Muslim children and make pastries with their blood. Jews are caricatured in derogatory and demonized ways, depicted as bloodsucking monsters. In a television show aired in Palestine a three-year-old child was interviewed and asked what she hates most, and when she responded ‘the Jews’, the journalists praised Allah upon hearing this stupid remark. The irrational fear of Jews is inculcated in Muslims since childhood.

A progressive European Muslim put it like this:

In almost all countries with a Muslim majority, we see the decline of civilization and a stagnation of all forms of life. Islam has no convincing answers to the challenges of the 21st century. It is in intellectual, moral and cultural decline, and therefore a doomed religion, without self-awareness and without any options to act. The decisive element is the general lack of direction and backwardness, which often lead to an aggressive fundamentalism. In a sense, Islam is like a drug, like alcohol. A small amount can have a healing and inspiring effect, but when the believer reaches for the bottle of dogmatic faith in every situation, it gets dangerous.

Islam is a cultural, religious and political system. The comparative poverty of Muslims including the Arabs and the Palestinians is due to their religion and culture and the political system when it is applied. The more Islam gets ignored the better the societies get. This was the case in the Golden Islamic Age. And it was the case in countries like Turkey and Indonesia. More democracy and freedom of thought, more wealth.

Blaming the misery solely on Israel is a mistake. I do not agree with Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies. I favor an approach as suggested by Michael Lerner, see

And it is really time to question Islam. All liberals should do this. And it’s time to stop blaming the West for everything. I can really recommend this article written by a female Indian Muslim called Mirza Yawar Baig.

“We are hemorrhaging. Big time. And our doctors are opening more veins so that our life blood can drain out faster. It’s almost like there is an unconscious intention of the Muslim Ummah to end its existence, once and for all. At least to end its existence effectively as a people who are worthy of consideration and respect. (...)

Here are two things that I believe we need to do if we want to change our situation. I don’t say that the change will be instantaneous. But it will come insha’Allah in due course. 1. Stop blaming others
The first sign of a desire to change is to accept that we have a problem. And that we are its authors. The empowering thing about owning the problem is that you also then, own the solution. When we export blame as we are habituated to do, we also export the solution and so the problem remains with us and continues to trouble us. We must accept that we are the cause of our internal differences and strife. If we want to build mutual understanding, nothing and nobody can change that. People can try and they will try but they will never succeed if we don’t let them (...).”

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