Open Zion

09.18.12

Romney's Worldview And Palestinian Statehood

At New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait hits on at least one aspect of Mitt Romney's "long-term plan for a one-state solution" remarks before an audience of big donors in Boca Raton, Florida:

Unlike Romney’s deranged rant against the 47 percent, where he appeared to be speaking from the heart and had no reason to present himself in such terms to rich people who require only some general reassurance, Romney has a clear incentive here to cater to the views of his audience. Conservative Jewish donors have very right-wing views on Middle East policy. Romney’s comments here can easily be viewed as a pander as opposed to the unmasking of an authentic worldview.

The pander itself is a depressing, if familiar, window into conservative Republican thought on the Middle East. It’s a sadly myopic vision lacking any plausible long-term mechanism—so lacking that Romney can only say that hopefully one day “something” will happen.

I'm not sure Romney's position here is a simple pander—though that doubtless plays a part. True: he may not even have a coherent worldview in terms of foreign policy to lay out, and his long record is one of shape-shifting to circumstances on many issues as he needs to. But that doesn't mean Romney's dour view of prospects for peace don't reflect a broader vision of things. Spencer Ackerman writes that the obstacles Romney lays out for a deal "do not have salience as grounds to oppose independence, unless you conceive of Palestinian independence as justly conditional on Israel’s comfort with granting it." That, of course, seems to be exactly how Romney views things. Those who are worth less are worthless. Just think of the Palestinians as the 47 percent of Greater Israel that Romney needn't care about. Is it any wonder that Romney wants to dictate terms to every Middle Eastern country—except Israel, which he's hinted will dictate terms to him?

This take on Romney's view of the Palestinians was artfully explained—when Romney said Palestinian culture was to blame for their woes—by none other than Jonathan Chait:

The shame of it, though, is that Romney’s meditation on the Palestinians is not a gaffe, or even merely a deliberate pander to Israel hawks, but a genuine window into his view of the world—not just of the Middle East, but on wealth and poverty in general.

Chait boils down the campaign rhetoric thusly: "Those of us who are rich owe our success to hard work and strong values, and those who are poor have only themselves to blame." In his post today, he connects Romney's view to "Netanyahu 'strategy.'" How true. The Palestinians are undeserving of a state, so why should Israel be pressured to give them one, or even to keep alive the prospects of one? The fundraising angle is situation specific, but the disregard for the Palestinian predicament is certainly consistent with Romney's worldview as described by Chait some months ago.