Yesterday in Jerusalem, Governor Mitt Romney made some statements that were not only wrong, but frankly, prejudiced and ignorant.
Romney declared that "cultural differences" were the reason the Palestinian economy is not doing as well as Israel's, without even acknowledging the Occupation. On top of that, he managed to get his facts completely wrong, claiming the Israeli GDP is twice that of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, when in fact it is actually about ten times as high. (1)
Most people who even cursorily keep up with the news know that Israel largely controls not only the entry and exit of goods to and from the West Bank and Gaza, but the entry and exit of the Palestinian people as well. Israeli soldiers can arbitrarily block the access of farmers from their land, students from their studies, and patients from medical care. Israel can, and has, closed Palestinian universities for years at a time.
Israel won't allow even the most innocuous materials, like strawberries from Gaza, to be sold in the West Bank, which serves to prevent Gazan farmers from making a living. (2) At various times, it has not allowed steel, glass, or even pasta in to Gaza to allow it to re-build after the devastating war on Gaza in 2008-2009. And Israel allows private companies like Ahava to take take natural resources in the West Bank and sell them for a profit. (3)
It's this infrastructure of control that chokes not only economic growth, but anything approaching normal life.
Romney stakes his value as a leader on his success in business. But any businessperson should know that blocking free trade and commerce, profiting from exploiting stolen land, and holding an entire economy hostage is not exactly fair play.
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director
Jewish Voice for Peace