Unholy gaffes in the Holy Land

If US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's current trip is to establish his foreign policy credentials, he should have stayed at home...but then he'd have missed out on the cash.  

If Mitt Romney - ‘Mitt the Twit’ as the British media have now labelled him - is elected President of the United States in November, then God help us all.

After Mr Beaning his way through a few days in London, making gaffe after gaffe - questioning if the Olympics would be successful, not remembering the Labour Leader’s name etc., he left hoping for what one of his staffers referred to as a ‘miracle in Israel’.

It did not happen.

In the course of three days he managed to contradict American policy and blast his own President thinking he could get away with such a traveling politician no-no by simply not mentioning Obama by name.

If that’s not enough he’s absolutely offended the Palestinians and shown a complete and utter ignorance of history and foreign policy with regard to the all but dead Middle East Peace Process.

Where to start!

First his ingratiating reminiscing about his old “friend” PM Netanyahu. They worked in the same company in the 1970s. Netanyahu told Vanity Fair this month that he remembers Romney for sure, but doesn’t remember any connections. Cringe. 

As for policy...well he’s as blank on details in foreign policy as he is, deliberately or otherwise, on every other issue...but he still manages to stuff up.

US foreign policy, along with the policies of most countries in the world, do NOT recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which is why foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv. West Jerusalem may one day be Israel’s capital, but at this stage East Jerusalem, which Israel has illegally annexed, is supposed to be the capital of the future Palestinian state.

Mitt, desperate to establish some pre-election foreign policy kudos, has instead been given a “please explain” demand by the White House on this one. In interviews post gaff, he fudged and mumbled about not setting his country’s foreign policy while abroad, and yet that’s just what he did.  

If that’s not ignorant enough for the potential leader of the free world, how about never once mentioning the Palestinians? Or, not even a hint of a suggestion to his ‘old friend’ Bibi that it might be a good idea for Israel to stop its destructive and burgeoning illegal settlement project which is gobbling up the land that is supposed to be a future Palestine.

The settlement industry has now established more than half a million Israelis in the West Bank, and Israeli-only roads and highways, its massive illegal separation barrier, and a myriad of checkpoints and military obstacles chop Palestinian villages into bantustans, reminiscent of apartheid-era South Africa.

But does the man who could be President care? 

Heck no...he doesn’t even understand the politics of the region, breathtakingly displayed in his racist comments that cultural roots were at the heart of the “dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality” between Israel and Palestinians.

And, the self promoting economic guru even got the GDP per capita figures wrong. Very wrong.

Romney’s figures had the Israeli GDP per capita at $21,000 and half that for Palestinians, whereas his own country’s CIA Factbook puts Israel’s at $31,000 and the Economist lists the Palestinians at $2,900.

It is not culture that is at the root of this. It’s the occupation, stupid.

Perhaps Romney could do a little study on Israel’s blockade of Gaza, locking the people in their open air prison and denying them the materials, equipment and access to markets that would allow them to start - or restart - successful businesses and trade. It is to be hoped Egypt’s new PM keeps open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

As for the occupied West Bank, how would Romney propose to start or continue business there when his race would determine if he’s allowed in or out, to drive on this road or cross that checkpoint, have his land stolen or house demolished for illegal settlements or his village destroyed for Israeli Defence training purposes? How would he operate a farm when he, were he a Palestinian, would be allowed up to 20 litres of water a day, yet the illegal settlers are allocated up to 300 litres per person per day? No wonder the settlers’ fields are flourishing...and on it goes.

It is not culture, but it is funded by Romney’s own country and permitted by the US ask-no-questions Security Council veto when it comes to Israel’s crushing of the human rights and quest for self determination of Palestinians.

And then there is Iran.

Netanyahu’s words but coming from Romney’s lips.

Is the only way for them to look tough and manly to whip up fear about a possible nuclear Iran, when between them they have the biggest stash of nukes on the planet?

Romney is nothing but Bibi’s poodle when he claims the moral right to stop the (sovereign) Iranians from possessing a nuclear bomb. 

The starting point should be no nuclear bombs for anyone, but it is not. 

However to treat the Iranians is irrational idiots who would certainly bring about their own annihilation should they fire a (as yet non existent) nuke at Israel is simply ridiculous. If they do develop a bomb, perhaps they will consider it a deterrent against the threat Israel clearly poses to them.     

What Romney’s Israel cash grab has shown is an albeit fumbling exercise in political prostitution.

So desperate is he - as are all but a couple of American politicians - for the campaign donations from wealthy Jews anywhere (and Christian evangelicals who consider the Bible a legal document with respect to the Zionist dream) that they will turn any trick at the expense of the Palestinians.

As columnist Maureen Dowd so aptly summed up the looming election predicament - if Americans are thinking of voting for Mitt the android, its possibly better they stick with the android they already have.

The Brits are sure to agree as well.