Wash. Post, NY Times furious at Romney for demolishing their false Israeli-Palestinian narrative

With headlines blazing and printer's ink aplenty, the Washington Post and the New York Times turned downright apoplectic about Mitt Romney's comment in Jerusalem that differences in "culture" are the key to Israel greatly outpacing the Palestinian territories in economic performance.

"Romney angers Palestinians with remarks on economy," reads a six-page headline in the Post.  "With Jerusalem Comment, Romney Raises Sparks," blares a six-column headline in the Times.

The headlines are a tip-off that these two papers deem Romney's remark an unpardonable affront to their own narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

For years, they have blamed Israel for prolonging the conflict with the Palestinians and here comes Romney with one well-chosen word demolishing their basic thesis - that Israel is at fault for not making greater concessions, for refusing to divide Jerusalem, for expanding settlements. Take your pick.  But avert your eyes from any Palestinian transgressions.

Romney turns this Post/Times premise upside down and squarely puts the onus on the Palestinians -- that they have demonstrated "cultural" propensities that foul their own nest.

Such as being governed by a kleptocracy under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and a theocratic terrorist regime in Gaza.  Such as failing to empower women and such as trampling over basic human rights in suppressing Hamas adherents in the West Bank and Fatah members in Gaza.

None of this, of course, graces the pages of the Post and the Times, which instead seek to parry Romney's remark about "cultural" impediments on the Palestinian side by blaming Israel for limiting trade with roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank and a blockade of Hamas-governed Gaza.

But that's confusing cause and effect.  Neither the Post nor the Times acknowledges that such Israeli restrictions are the effect of another key component of Palestinian "culture" -- i.e. a propensity to resort to violence and terrorism against Israel.  When PA President Mahmoud Abbas glorifies terrorist killers by naming public places and facilities after them, he promotes and justifies terrorism.  And it's not just an idle threat.  Somehow, the Post and the Times seem to have forgotten the first intifada and the second intifada -- the latter killed more than a thousand Israelis and injured several thousands more.

And to this day, Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza continue to bombard civilian targets in southern Israel and terrorize 1 million Israelis within their range.

All of this falls under Romney's rubric of Palestinian "culture" -- yet goes unacknowledged by the Post and the Times.  There would be no blockade of Gaza nor dwindling numbers of roadblocks in the West Bank if the Palestinians genuinely foreswore violence.  But that's highly unlikely because resort to violence against innocent civilians is also sadly ingrained in their "culture" -- a reality that the Post and the Times stoutly continue to ignore.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

Richard N. Weltz adds:

Mitt Romney had the audacity to speak the truth in Israel Monday regarding the national culture which has enabled the Jewish State to make great leaps in scientific, technical, industrial, and democratic areas, especially compared to the Palestinians next door. While the former concentrates on entrepreneurship, education, and plain hard work, the Pals are best known for their political corruption and widespread educational efforts to engender hatred of Jews and Israel among the youngsters growing up in their society.

Unsurprisingly, the left-wing media have gone bonkers over the frankness and truth of Romney's remarks; and the Palestinian spokespeople have taken  a line from Obama's "blame Bush" strategy to blame their own abject failures on the Israelis.

The New York Times, predictably, began an anti-Romney spin story right on its front page and echoed the smear in a particularly nasty editorial.

Said the Times editorial: "Mr. Romney did American interests no favors when he praised Israeli economic growth while ignoring the challenges Palestinians face living under Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza." Ah, yes, the familiar line apologizing for the Palestinians by claiming that they've all along been stifled by those nasty, occupying Jews -- with nary a nod to the restrictions brought upon themselves by the constant attacks on Israel, most notably in the Second Intifada and the murderous policies of the late Yasser Arafat, which were direct causes of necessary self-defensive actions that may have had a side effect of making more difficult whatever great economic achievements the Palestinians thought they might somehow make.

In the page one smear job, the Gray Lady roundly condemns Romney for having the nerve to upset the sensitivities of a group more interested in pursuing terror than commerce:

Mitt Romney offended Palestinian leaders on Monday by suggesting that cultural differences explain why the Israelis are so much more economically successful than Palestinians, thrusting himself again into a volatile issue while on his high-profile overseas trip.

*     *     *

"Culture makes all the difference," Mr. Romney said. "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."

Golly, gee! Mitt tells it like it is, and the Times is deeply disturbed. What a non-surprise.

Over at the Wall Street Journal, however, Bret Stephens took a more reasoned and sanguine view of the Romney remarks:

Mitt Romney infuriated Palestinians during his visit to Israel on the weekend by calling Jerusalem "the capital of Israel." He then added insult to injury by noting-in the context of a discussion of "culture"-the "dramatically stark difference in economic vitality" between Israelis and Palestinians. A Palestinian official called the remark "racist."

I'm beginning to warm to Mitt.

Stephens goes on to a careful delineation of the differences in attitude between Israel-supporters like Romney and those who tend to disparage or disdain the Wish State such as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, at The New York Post, columnist John Podhoretz also offered a view of the Israeli-Palestinian situation uncolored by the rose-tinted glasses of the liberal Left:

While in Israel, Mitt Romney said something every sane person knows to be true: There is great cultural and political meaning in the fact that Israel has prospered while the Palestinians have festered.

"Culture," Romney said, "makes all the difference . . . you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality." *   *   *   Since signing the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, Israel has spent two decades working to unshackle its economy from its socialist roots, with remarkable results.

The Palestinians? They've created what the House Foreign Affairs Committee has called a "chronic kleptocracy," with foreign aid and investment shamelessly stolen and diverted to the bank accounts of the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and its gangsterish local strongmen.

On its editorial page, the Post opined:

Maybe what the media resent is the contrast Romney's trip makes all too clear: that, unlike Obama, he understands that the world consists of good actors and bad, that some nations deserve America's unwavering friendship - and some don't.

That some will have America's back when it truly matters - and some won't.

And that the difference matters.

Certainly, he's not afraid to takes sides.

America's bond with Israel is more than "strategic," Romney said in Jerusalem (calling it, without hesitation, Israel's capital). "It's a force for good in the world."

Joshua Greenman,
writing in the left-leaning NY Daily News, joined the hysterical chorus condemning the honesty of Romney's remarks. "Oy, Mitt. Oy." he wrote, and then went on to comment that, "he [Romney] demeaned Palestinians - pointing to "a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality" between the Jewish state and the occupied territories. His diagnosis: "Culture makes all the difference."

Greenman proceeds to defend what he calls, "the legitimate gripes of Palestinians. They struggle under occupation. They have been shunned by Arab neighbors. That, and cycles of terror and war against Israel, is what holds them back - not some ingrained handicap."

As for the paper's news columns, its editors choose to report the Romney visit and remarks by the expedient of printing  a wire-service story from the notoriously biased Associated Press, the thrust of which is delineated in its headline:

Romney outrages Palestinians by saying Jewish culture helps make Israel more successful

When it comes to the mainstream press, as far as Israel goes, it is always a case of plus ça change.