#RomneyShambles in the Holy Land.

Pretty much the expression I imagine that Romney is forever wearing in his head.

Update (7/31/12): John Harwood, a CNBC correspondent who spoke on the Maddow show last night reports that he was told by a senior GOP strategist that “What Mitt Romney really wanted out of this trip was what he got on the front pages of every newspaper in the country, which was the picture of himself at the Wailing Wall.”

Because that’s what the Jewish people’s holiest site is meant for: Photo-ops.


The boy becomes bar mitzvah in two and a half weeks; we have 11 Israelis arriving for the event; four days after we celebrate the boy’s accomplishments and on the very day that the Israelis fly home, the school year begins.

What I’m saying here is that I’m very busy.


But everybody and his/her brother has already noted that Mitt Romney was an even bigger disaster in Israel/Palestine than he was in England — so I don’t have to!

Hereunder, some summing up, and linkage, for your #RomneyShamblesintheHolyLand edification

“In Jerusalem speech, it was Romney’s voice but Netanyahu’s words” – Barak Ravid in HaAretz

Romney read his speech from two teleprompters that were placed opposite the stage, but compared to Obama, Romney seemed gray and uncharismatic. Even from this hand-picked, extremely friendly audience, he wasn’t able to extract thunderous applause.

The speech itself sounded as if it could have been written by Netanyahu’s bureau. So it’s no surprise that when the two met later for dinner, Netanyahu thanked him for his “support for Israel and Jerusalem.”

…Romney opened with Netanyahu’s favorite subject commenting on the rise of the Jewish people after the Holocaust, continuing with Israel and the United States’ common values, mentioning the 40th anniversary of the murder of the 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, talked about the terrorist attack at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem a decade ago, which took the life of Israeli and American students, as well as, lauding Israeli innovation and its thriving economy. Apparently, in his in-flight briefing, Romney wasn’t briefed on Israel’s social protest.

…”We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.”

Those words were clearly aimed at the repeated public confrontations between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the building In the settlements and the freeze in settlement expansion.

“Romney outrages Palestinians by suggesting Israeli culture is superior” – Barak Ravid in HaAretz

“As you come here and you see the GDP [gross domestic product] 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 said.

…“He says if you can learn anything from the economic history of the world, it’s this: culture makes all the difference. 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,” Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and “the hand of providence.”

…[Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb] Erekat sharply criticized Romney’s remarks, calling them “a racist statement. 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 lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people,” Erekat added. “He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.”

” ‘The Hand Of Providence’ And, Oh, The Occupation” – Bernard Avishai in Open Zion

Palestine therefore desperately needs to expand its private sector, which you should encourage. But it cannot. Palestinian banks have been unable to lend more than about $3 billion to credit-worthy business plans. For when you look at all of the things an ordinary businessperson takes for granted—mobility, access to markets, talent, suppliers and financial services—you see the frustrating effects of an occupation designed to advance the settlers, not Palestinian development.

…But other problems are just as serious. Businesses need world-class managers, who have to be able to travel freely. Entrepreneurs from the Palestinian diaspora, if born abroad, have to fight for years to get residency permits. The handful who succeed cannot then use Ben Gurion Airport or come to Jerusalem, but suffer the same restrictions as locals. Components for Palestinian manufacturing are routinely held up in Israel ports, waiting for long security checks. (One Palestinian aluminum window manufacturer, denied a coating material that could be used to make explosives, offered to pay for IDF soldiers to supervise the entire process.)

Palestinian banks cannot park their cash reserves in Israeli banks, losing tens of millions of dollars in interest. They also cannot set up branches or even ATMs in East Jerusalem, where unemployment is over 25 percent and 50 percent live under the poverty line.

…Providence needs help sometimes, it seems. But you didn’t really come to Jerusalem to learn, did you? 

The Jerusalem Issue: How Romney Hit the Third Rail of MidEast Diplomacy – Max Fisher in The Atlantic

The candidate’s call to acknowledge what anyone can see is Israel’s capital is far more complicated than it seems, and a microcosm of the crucial but difficult role that the U.S. plays in securing peace.

Frankly the whole thing can be summed up in a single tweet from Barak Ravid: “In order to get few votes in Boca Raton and [Sheldon] Adelson’s money, Romney completely ignores the Palestinians.”


Democrat. Jewish. Still Voting for Obama.

Please help me with this, my latest at Open Zion/The Daily Beast – if you like it (and why wouldn’t you? It’s perfectly charming! Whimsical, even!) please, please tweet the Open Zion link, FB it, Pin it, send it to your granny — get it out there! Here’s the link in all its glory: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/25/democrat-jewish-still-voting-for-obama.html Just cut-n-paste (if you like it!) and you’re good to go. 

I am just so tired of the Romney campaign and the GOP in general lying about me and mine. I would like to be one of the people who publicly calls them out…. Please and thank you! (But only if you like it!)

Here’s the top:

Dear Michael,

(Can I call you Michael? We’re mishpucha, right?)

I hear you voted for Barack Obama in ‘08, but that you’ll be voting for Mitt Romney this time. I hear this, because the Romney campaign has told me, loudly.


First of all: Far be it from me to suggest that you don’t have a right to be disappointed in the guy you voted for! I’ve been disappointed with this President a time or two myself, and what is democracy if not the opportunity to express that disappointment in the voting booth? You don’t like the bums? Vote the bums out, I say!

But here’s what I will say, and if you’ve got a glass of tea, I’d be grateful.

You say you’ve decided to change your vote for a number of reasons, but the Romney campaign has zeroed in on one very specific thing hasn’t it? We see that specific thing right under your name on the screen: “Democrat. Jewish. Voted for Obama.”

The Romney campaign likes you not for your economic opinions or that nice kugel you brought them, but rather because you’re a Jew who will say “Fie!” on the President. You’re a Jew who will help them and the GOP writ large further the narrative (as financed by the likes of Sheldon Adelson) that a) Jews are abandoning Obama and b) Jews vote on Israel.

But Michael. Michael, Michael, Michael! You and I both know that neither of those things are true!

To read the rest (and spread the word! If you like it!), please click here….

Gingrich, lies, damn lies, and the Palestinian people.

I am a child of the Watergate hearings.

By which I mean: I’m no fool.

I don’t believe that politics and running a country can be anything but an (at least) occasionally dirty business, I don’t believe politicians choose politics for purely altruistic reasons, and I certainly don’t believe that any of them don’t lie, or at least fudge the truth. I say this as a person who campaigned for the current President with the greatest sense of urgency, wept when he was elected, and continue to find him to be an inspiring figure. Has he lied to me yet? Probably. Or at least fudged the truth.

Having said that: There’s lying, and then there’s lying. There’s “not purely altruistic,” and then there’s “utterly and cravenly opportunistic.” When I look at the front runners in the GOP field, that’s what I see.

Mitt Romney is famous for his “flip-flopping,” which is a terribly cute little way of saying “lying through his teeth.” The man chose positions that would carry him to power, and now that he wants a different kind of power, in a different venue, he’s chosen different positions. The position is not what matters – the power is what matters. He was for gay people before he was against them, he was for health care before he was against it, and let the chips and the human lives fall where they may.

And then we have Newt Gingrich.

A man so arrogant and full of his desperate, palpable need for power, that he will slice and dice the truth with a vicious gleam in his eye and nary a by-your-leave, anything to get his hands on what he believes is rightfully his. Maybe that’s the difference between the two: Romney really wants power — but Gingrich clearly believes power is what the world owes him. And he will violently dismember any truth that might happen to get in his way.

Hence black people have no work ethic and he cheated on his wife because of his love of America. Hence the Palestinians are “an invented people… that had a chance to go many places.”

In a sense, Gingrich was right — all peoples are invented. Anyone who likes to call himself a “history professor” would know that nationalism is a modern construct, and any American should understand that sometimes peoplehood is created out of ideas and a prime location. This doesn’t make nationhood false — it just makes it human, rather than Divine.

But that wasn’t what Gingrich meant.

No, he meant that the Palestinian people don’t really exist. He meant that their claims are illegitimate, because they serve only as a foil to Israel, and thus can be disregarded, because if they’re suffering in any way, it’s their own fault. They shouldn’t have invented themselves. They should have gone away.

But the jagged edges of this lie — the semantic erasure of centuries of history and the millions of people who lived and are living it — are made that sharper by the fact that Gingrich once said something very different.

In 2005, Gingrich wrote that the Palestinian people “were in some ways among the most international and most advanced people in the Arab world,” when war broke out in 1948.

While Israelis have the right of self defense, Washington should impose three limitations on Israel: first, the White House should insist that a free hand in building a security fence does not mean a free hand to expand the Israeli settlements in a land grab. The US government should become the protector of the Palestinian people’s right to have a decent amount of land and to have continuous communications and travel between their areas. The desire of some Israelis to use security as an excuse to grab more Palestinian land should be blocked by Washington even if that requires employing financial or other leverage to compel the Israeli government to behave reasonably on the issue of settlements. It is vital to our credibility in the entire Middle East that we insist on an end to Israeli expansionism. It is vital to our humanitarian duty to the Palestinian people that we protect the weaker party from the stronger power. It is vital that the world sees that our total support for Israeli security is not matched by a one-sided support for more extreme Israeli territorial goals. (emphasis mine)

So how did the Palestinians go from “the most international and most advanced people in the Arab world” to “invented”?


Newt Gingrich wants power — believes that power to be what he deserves and the world needs — and the only way to get that power, if you’re not as rich as Croesus or Mitt Romney, is to use other people’s money.

Along comes American casino owner/billionaire Sheldon Adelson — a fiercely xenophobic American Jew who uses Israeli politics as his personal sandbox — and gives Gingrich $5 million. Boom.

Now the candidate proudly pronounces opinions that are to the right of Netanyahu (a man also propped up by Adelson’s money), in opposition to the foreign policy of his elected government, and contrary to the position of every Republican administration going back to that of the sainted Ronald Reagan.

I don’t expect politicians to be exemplary people, nor do I expect politics to be free of the influence of money. Politics is humanity, and humanity is messy.

But sometimes the scope of the ignominy is truly breathtaking — and damn the consequences, for US security, the people living with war these six and a half decades, or the world at large.

Because Newt Gingrich wants to be President.

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