After taking heat for asserting that Israeli culture helps explain the “dramatically stark difference in economic vitality” between it and its neighbors, Mitt Romeny expands on the theme in National Review Online:
Like the United States, the state of Israel has a culture that is based upon individual freedom and the rule of law. It is a democracy that has embraced liberty, both political and economic. This embrace has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom. In the face of improbable odds, Israel today is a world leader in fields ranging from medicine to information technology.
In the context of an American presidential campaign, praising Jewish culture is anything but a gaffe. It’s about as politic a sentiment as one can express.
Shmuel Rosner makes a similar point:
I’d be surprised if Romney’s blatant assessment of Palestinian culture is going to hurt him politically. Americans don’t hold Palestinian culture in high regard, and might agree with Romney. Americans tilting towards voting for Romney (namely, Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents) probably agree in even higher numbers with such a position.
Fair enough, and I have no doubt that Romney’s you’re-better-than-the-Palestinians trope went down well among the American Jewish constituency he was courting. I don’t know if Jews are any more chauvinistic than any other ethnic group, but we’re certainly not any less. And deep down, most of us believe in Israeli exceptionalism. (You too, Mr. Left-Wing Zionist: Every time you say that the Israeli record on gay rights, feminism, and human rights shouldn’t be judged against the standards of its neighbors [which I agree with, by the way], you’re basically accepting the notion of Israeli superiority.)
But it’s not Romney’s message to the Palestinians that bothers me as much as his message to us and the world. It’s a little upsetting that a candidate thinks the way to win our hearts is through our swelled heads.