Mitt Romney's trip to Israel yielded $1 million in campaign contributions, but it came at a cost of sounding uninformed about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, 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," Romney told a group of wealthy donors Monday at a breakfast at the King David Hotel. Not only did the quote seem to imply that Jews are culturally superior when it comes to making money (that old stereotype), but the numbers he used were vastly incorrect, as The Associated Press' Kasie Hunt reports:
The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.
While the money line might've been red meat to some of Romney's donors (he also declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, offending some), the words didn't really suggest his strength in dealing with the region's complex, historically-fraught conflict. And you kind of came away with that feeling after the Palestinians issued a statement, via Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas. "This man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation. It seems to me this man [Romney] lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat said. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority." Oh, well: You win some (money), you lose some (integrity).