"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about US$21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Israel
Then poking about further into the subject, and hoisting the book The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, cited author David Landes's thesis: "He says if you can learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things ... including the hand of providence".
These sentiments, and these statements did not endear Mitt Romney to the Palestinians, but it did do so immensely, to the satisfaction of his first-hand Jewish audience who applauded wildly. All groups like to have their accomplishments acknowledged by an outside source. As though only from outsiders can the greatest satisfaction in achievements can be realized, through respected external validation.
That Mr. Romney also, at the same time, validated the bitter claims of the ordinary Palestinians that they are sick and tired of the incompetence, manipulation and utter callous corruption of their leaders is another thing entirely. Wholesale corruption with the Palestinian leadership traditionally - starting with Yasser Arafat and beyond - using for their personal fortunes colossal funds given them by the international community.
For this by-product of his acknowledgement of Israeli devotion to hard work, enterprise and excellent performance in economics as in all other endeavours, Mr. Romey has been severely criticized. Hardly a surprise, albeit a circumstance whose fall-out neither he nor his advisers, unbelievably, might have considered prior to his speech.
Mr. Romney was quite right in his assertions. Israelis have, as a nation, understood quite well that it is up to their own initiative and striving that they must excel in all the endeavours to which they apply themselves. This is a cultural attribute, that there are more Jewish Nobel Laureates than is represented by any other single ethnic group, in all disciplines.
The Palestinians have distinguished themselves by honing their victimhood status, by complaining loudly and incessantly to the world at large, excelling at slanderous accusations, and in excusing themselves from committing terrorist violence compelling their victim to arm, protect and defend itself, turning that on its head and asserting themselves to be the victims of a heartless occupying power.
How much more provident and honourable it would be to finally settle differences, absorb some disappointments in expectations, then carry on and begin to establish themselves as a responsible, independent source of prideful accomplishments, knowing that along the way their neighbour will be helpful in aiding in the achievement of their national and economic goals.
The Palestinians, on the contrary, have always seen it to their singular advantage to be known as, and behave as, the world's longest-lasting refugees. Planning to be transformed from refugees to nationals only when Israel has been destroyed by whatever means necessary. And basing their economy almost solely on hand-outs from international sources.
So when Saeb Erekat, a man who never found a Jewish proposal that he could agree with stated: "It is a racist statement, and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation", he was merely continuing a long tradition of denial and victimhood.
Should any Israeli or Jewish official state blank out a belief in racial or cultural superiority he would play right into the hands of the Palestinian marketing and public relations machine. Now that is something at which they have excelled. Perfecting the method of speaking one thing to one another, but conveying an entirely different message to the world at large.
Mr. Romney was in error about his statistics, however: Israel's 2011 per capita GDP was around $31,000 in 2011; the West Bank's and Gaza's was by comparison just above $1,500. The Palestinians spend so much time, passion and effort hating and decrying the Israelis they have little left to aid themselves materially.
Were they to re-direct their bile to the garbage heap and declare their intention to put a definite halt to violence against Israel, they could accomplish much for themselves. The first impediment to their economic future to fall would be the 'occupation'. On achieving a peaceful resolution to their intractable historical relationship the Palestinians could learn at first-hand how useful good relations with a neighbour can be.
But then, that would lead to a loss of honour, and their raison d'etre. Everything else is commentary.