Mitt Romney, Palestinian culture and white supremacism: responses worth reading

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Beach goers in front of the ocean front house of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the La Jolla, California. This is the home that Romney plans to raze in order to build one several times larger.

(KC Alfred / ZUMA Press)

US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney generated a backlash with his claims in Jerusalem that the vast (20:1) disparity in income between Israelis and Palestinians can be explained by a superior Jewish Israeli culture and “the hand of providence” – rather than by the systematic depradations of Israeli occupation on the economy of Palestinians.

Romney’s comments suggesting the inferiority of Palestinian culture are only the latest racist attacks targeting Palestinians – and aimed to please hardline pro-Israel voters and donors – launched by hopefuls in the 2012 US presidential election.

Three responses stand out. The first is Sam Bahour’s piece which – miraculously – appears at washingtonpost.com. Bahour puts Romney’s denigration of Palestinian culture in historic perspective:

Given Palestine is part and parcel of an Arab culture that was the cradle of civilization, is home to the oldest cities in the world, and provided humanity with significant contributions towards the development of many “modern” sciences, such as physics, chemistry, medicine, mathematics and astronomy, one can only assume Romney sees no value in any of these — or is entirely ignorant of them. Instead, he views Israel as the “miracle,” a 64-year-old country that was built on the ruins and ashes of the indigenous Palestinians, many of whom refuse to submit to a continuing campaign of slow — and sometimes not so slow — removal from the land.

As an experienced businessman who has attempted to develop a Palestinian economy free from both Israeli and international shackles, Bahour speaks from experience when he writes:

Over the years, not only has Israel prohibited the emergence of a new Palestinian economy — it has structurally and systematically made certain that even the buds of such a productive economy would never see the light of day. Anyone who scratches the surface of all the political spin can see for themselves what the World Bank now repeats: that Israel’s “apparatus of control” has “become more sophisticated and effective in its ability to interfere in and affect every aspect of Palestinian life, including job opportunities, work, and earnings … (turning) the West Bank into a fragmented set of social and economic islands or enclaves cut off from one another.” Besieged Gaza is in far worse shape than the West Bank. The International Monetary Fund and the European Union are making similar points.

The culture of “white supremacy”

Writing in Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford mocks Romney’s contentions that “Two cultures have clashed in Palestine, and one has been found to be 20 times as productive as the other.”

Turning the tables, Ford points out how the “culture” of white supremacy from which Romney’s ideology flows, has been used in the United States and Africa to justify the subjugation of people of color:

White South Africa regarded its wealth as prima facie evidence of cultural superiority. The fact that the land, minerals and labor on which that wealth was built belonged to Black people simply proved that Blacks lacked a “culture” adequate to manage those resources. Moreover, White Power was in the best interest of Black South Africans who, the apartheid regime was proud to proclaim, had a higher per capita income than Blacks elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, white cultural superiority could be beneficial to nearby Blacks, under controlled conditions that did not pollute the precious European cultural environment.

Similarly,

White U.S. southerners also insisted, during slavery and Jim Crow, that “their” Negroes were the best off in the world because of their exposure to white folks’ religion and way of life. Left to their own devices, however, Black folks’ innate cultural inferiority – depravity! – would do them in. Blacks’ freedom of movement and expression must be contained, for their own good.

White liberals also believed in the Culture Demon. In the 1950s and early 60s, it was considered politically correct to describe African Americans as “culturally deprived” – meaning, Blacks are disadvantaged by lack of exposure to white culture. Power has nothing to do with it.

Get the facts

Seizing the opportunity of Romney’s ignorant comments, the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) has put together an excellent fact sheet “Palestinian Culture: 64 Years Under Israeli Assault.”

It’s an excellent, well-documented summary of Israel’s record of destruction of Palestinians towns, cities and villages, theft and destruction of natural and economic resources, denial of access to education, destruction of agriculture and siege and blockade on Palestinian economic development.

A useful resource for all of us when we respond to the deliberate distortions and denigrations about Palestine.

Comments

Romney is the chosen of the neocons. The Bush family (grampa Bush had close ties with nazi bank Thyssen in Amsteram in WWII, a.o. read Fletcher Prouty's book "JFK, The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy". This gives insights from an insider (US Air Force and CIA man) in the power structure of the US and that still is going on today. Of course, there are allies and strawmen. The "elected" officials are just smokescreen and pawns for the public eye. So when I saw Romney and heard his unbelievable gaffes (again an airhead they do not even try to give the public any intelligent person) before in the US having been hailed by the Bushes including photo-ops with Bush 43....The power elite and the military-industrial complex is electing Romney. So do not be surprised. Although Obama gave Israel all leeway as well in contrast to his speeches in 2008.

Romney's comments reflect, not just American society's racist underbelly, but something far more insidious. Politicians here have, nearly in toto, embraced Europe's Zionist narrative. I got a striking glimpse of this mindset with The New York Times op-ed "guru" David Brooks' delerious claim a couple of years ago about the "Jewish gene's" superriority to the genes of other races, thanks to the natural selection of eons of persecution, of course. I wrote to the NYT then but received no reply.

We find the comical notion of Jewish superiority explained sometimes in brazenly racial terms (without so much as a stir from journalists or book reviewers), sometimes in connection with the myth of the "Chosen People," another infantile abomination. Europeans have long experience here, having been first to conceive of the Zionist myth. Zionist Jewish intellectuals simply developed this myth into its present full-blown racial ideology, distorting national politics and even literature and philosophy. Your readers ought to pick up a copy of Lambropoulos' "The Rise of Eurocentrism: Anatomy of Interpretation."

Zionists argue Jews are superior because they think God chose them and promised them a piece of prime real estate. Not religious? No problem, Jews gave us "monotheism"; if not that, then they put mankind on his feet; if not, then they can lead mankind. No, they must lead mankind!

This is a modern disease, one that poses a threat to the peoples of the Middle East, to be sure, but more immediately, its embodiment, Israel, poses a mortal threat to the US itself.

To many Jews, it's a stain. Who deserves to be depicted, à l'européenne, the Cosmic Jew, opposition to whom amounts to Cosmic anti-Semitism? Jews are real people, like everyone else...mercifully far less significant historically than the cut-throats of the Zionist movement have made themselves out to be! The Jewish Question is, after all, nothing but the European Question...which has returned with a vengeance.