For the second time in less than three months, the leader of a major US party stereotypes Palestinians in racists and anti-peace terms.
The revelation of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy attitude when it comes to the Palestinians sheds light on the gap between declared policies and the truth.
In Jerusalem this summer, Romney described to his fat cat funders that Palestinian culture is the reason they are inferior to Israelis/Jews; it is also because the latter’s per capita is much bigger than that of Palestinians. No mention of the fact that Palestinians have been living under a four-decade-old military occupation.
A similar stereotypical attitude was expressed last May when Romney addressed his funders in the US. A secretly taped conversation at a fundraising event with the Republican nominee shows a total rejection by Romney of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In his frank talk at the $50,000 a plate dinner, the former governor of Massachusetts declared without hesitation that Palestinians do not want peace.
"I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way."
On the record, Romney (just like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) stated his support for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestinians.
Ignoring the existence of the military occupation, denying the Arab peace plan and the support of the Palestinian leadership for a non-violent approach to the conflict with Israel, Romney, apparently parroting his rightwing American-Israeli and American Jewish advisers, lumps the moderate Palestinian Authority with some extremist Palestinian elements as well as with Iranian Shiites and declares all Palestinians to be "committed" to the destruction of Israel.
These anti-Palestinian sentiments sound like a carbon copy of what rightwing Israelis try to peddle around the world to justify their desire to permanently control the Palestinian territories in the hope that somewhere down the line a situation will arise that will allow Israelis to push the Palestinians out of the West Bank and thus create a majority Jewish state in the land between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan.
Of course Romney, not remembering all the details of what his rightwing Israeli buddies have been spinning and not knowing his geography, has Syria bordering the potential Palestinian state and he has Iranian extremists somehow erasing Iraqi and Jordanian territories to establish rocket launchers in the prospective Palestinian state.
Romney’s racists and stereotypical attitudes are alarming, and one should realise that they do not represent only this particular candidate or even his party. No doubt, such attitudes are widespread as a result of relentless Likudnik policies and of the pro-Israel lobby in the US that has totally distorted the political reality to fit a rightwing mindset that only sees the extremist Israeli point of view.
Ironically, most Israeli leaders and politicians would be laughed at if the made the statements Romney made.
While it is clear that Romney’s statements reflect the spin of his aides and his friendships with the rightwing establishment in Israel, it is clear from public opinion polls that this is not necessarily the attitude of most Americans. However, any Palestinian strategist that is trying to figure out a practical and successful approach towards Palestinian statehood must not ignore what these statements represent among the American body politic.
Radical Palestinians will use these statements as proof that the peace process is a total sham and that it is nothing more than a morphine injection aimed simply at pacifying Palestinians and, in Romney’s words, kick the ball downfield until something happens.
In his analysis to his donors of the prospects of peace in the Middle East, Romney does make one revelation. Somehow, a former US secretary of state seems to have broken through the circles of pro-Israel advisers and told the Republican nominee that in fact peace is possible and that following Palestinian elections (not clear which elections) the "prospect of peace is possible". Romney says he did not delve much into this piece of advice, and one is led to believe that the trusted pro-Israel advisers clearly have the upper hand in directing their nominee.
Palestinians, Arabs and supporters of peace and justice in the Middle East cannot afford to ignore this revealing video of the attitude of a major US presidential candidate. If there was a reason for a total reassessment of Palestinian strategies and approaches to peace making, this certainly would be the time to do so.
The Palestinian Authority will most probably do nothing until after the US elections. But regardless of who will be president in the US in the coming years, one just hopes that Palestinian leaders will not allow themselves to be duped anymore with the sweet talk that has no basis on the ground.