Romney's fawning to Jewish voters
The recent comments made by US presidential-elections candidate Mitt Romney were evidence of the most appalling political opportunism, writes Mohamed El-Mokhtar
The wide contrast between Palestinian economic hardship, an Israeli-imposed ordeal for the most part, and the Western-bankrolled, American-subsidised Israeli prosperity lies squarely, according to Mitt Romney, in the "cultural superiority" of a people whose overall performance has been, after all, enhanced by the heavenly hand of "providence".
This type of bigotry has no equal, save for the insolence, cynicism and utter ignorance of its author. Such racist inanities are frankly sickening, even when uttered by an empty-headed plebeian, let alone a presumed political leader who is also, after all, the product of an elite schooling. It is not only the absurdity of the statement that is appalling. The sycophantic delirium of the speaker in question exceeds in many respects the apex of human hypocrisy.
Had the Palestinians been living in a free and viable state of their own, and not been coercively placed under a state of quasi-siege for over 40 years, stripped of their freedom of movement, geographically squeezed, and economically suffocated by a relentless military occupation, maybe Romney's mendacity would have made, albeit awkwardly, some kind of sense.
Had the statement in question not been made during a fund-raising event, this sort of pro-Zionist pandering could perhaps have been at least taken at face value -- that is, as the reckless but sincere words of a dummy apologist.
However, the setting in this case was carefully chosen, and the delivery was purposely staged. Nothing in this dramatic dithyramb was actually missing, or even coincidental. Everything was there to befit the solemnity of the moment: the location of the event, the choice of the background, the words used, the facial expressions, the smirking. Everything was carefully calibrated for the same purpose.
Admittedly, for someone who came in expressly to grovel in front of potential benefactors there were few other things that could have been done, given the way that everything seemed masterfully tailored for this ultimate plea. The whole drama reeks of the most basic political opportunism. It was, at best, the venal performance of a character desperately trying to flatter his wealthy audience in order to garner votes and financial support. In so doing, he would have wanted the echoes of his ingratiating comments to be heard in the ballot boxes on election day.
If Romney's listeners at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that day had still been trapped in the squalor of the Warsaw ghetto, or inside the Stalinist gulag of Birobidzhan, without purses or voting power, would Romney's attitude towards them have been the same? Would his heart still have been bursting with the same sentiments of awe and admiration? Or would he, more likely, like many others before him, be indifferent to their fate, with nothing to offer but cold indifference, if not condescension and contempt?
Does Romney know that in Nazi Germany, there were also some who attributed the dreadful experience of the crematoriums and gas chambers to the invisible "hand of providence"? Indeed, myriad cynics, not all of whom were Nazis, had the chutzpah back then to somehow blame the innocent victims for the gruesome fate they unjustly endured, since it was not uncommon at that time to blame the Jews' suffering on the supposed "abnormality" of their race, their "backward" creed, or the "awkward" nature of their culture.
Could Romney ever imagine, for instance, the state of Utah under a scenario as follows: a brutal military occupation that slices up the territory into separate small entities littered with permanent military check points, expels many of its most capable people, cuts off the State from the outside world, robs it of its underground water supplies, imposes regular closures on one half of the population and a total blockade on the other half, and metes out sporadic incursions on one, while showering the other with seasonal aerial bombing?
Would Utah be capable under these dire circumstances of developing and earning Romney's praise and love?
Romney's perceptions notwithstanding, the Palestinians are far from being a sluggish people. Despite countless impediments, they have retained a vibrant society. Always entrepreneurial and industrious, they have never languished in lethargy or sunk into despair. Literacy rates stand at 98 per cent -- an overachievement, by any standards, for a people still struggling against the odds to free itself from long subjugation.
Another proof, if there is need of one, of the Palestinians' extraordinary aptitude and self-reliance is the notable success of their Diaspora, which is hailed for its contributions in every corner of the globe.
Romney has not met too many Palestinians, yet the only Palestinian he encountered during his unwelcome visit, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, could have taught him at least one basic skill he sorely lacks, one that is a critical quality for anyone aspiring to a position of leadership: good diplomatic etiquette.
However, neither this type of prejudice about Arabs, nor the pathetic pandering to pro-Israeli groups is specific to Romney, or a novelty within the American political establishment. Romney may have taken the reenactment of the play to new heights, but he hardly invented the drama himself. This self-imposed public strip-tease has been played over and over again to varying degrees by representatives of the entire American political spectrum with very few exceptions.
During every political campaign, some apparently feel as though religiously compelled to go to extremes in indulging the whims of a political lobby that caters to the needs of a foreign country. Because the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) imposes as a rite of passage a demand for absolute loyalty to Israel, election candidates have to compete in outmatching each other to win its much-coveted favour before any election âê" hence this frenzy of faithful vows and pledges of allegiance.
Many play this game simply out of fear of political retribution, for there is no denying that pro-Zionist interest groups have effectively intimidated the American political establishment by systematically attacking anyone who dares challenge the status quo. The establishment has either sold out or chickened out. This is true not only of the WASP establishment, which has long been known for its lack of courage, but even of the more forthright African-American leadership, which has now bowed to the pressure.
As in the case of the gun lobby, or those interest groups working for the business elite, this type of subordination to the diktats of the few is indicative of the moral bankruptcy and systemic corruption affecting the entire political system in the US, the expression of which is to be found in the current undemocratic balance of power.
On the one hand, there are the ruling political elites and business oligarchies at the summit of the social pyramid, and on the other hand the disempowered masses, kept at bay by the soporific propaganda of a profit-driven media.
The writer is a political analyst.