When Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, stated that cultural differences were responsible for the Jewish state’s economic success — completely disregarding the crippling economic effect of a 64-year occupation of Palestine — I thought he had said the worst. Yet, he managed to outdo himself with this recent statement: “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel.”
Was I angered by these remarks? Sure. Was I surprised? Hardly. Romney has made so many mendacious statements throughout his campaign that veracity is non-existent. This is expected from a political candidate; after all, most politicians are merely professional equivocators who work on perfecting a welter of ideas that, in most cases, they cannot substantiate. Ultimately, Romney’s statement may have reflected what the $50,000--a plate attendees wanted to hear. Despite my anger and frustration at these remarks, I will not deliver a harangue castigating Romney for his statement. No, instead I’d like to highlight the larger picture and that is the implications remarks like this one make.
Romney’s statement is more than a fatuous comment meant to appease a group of idolatrous worshipers of Israel. It delineates a false Palestinian narrative — one that perpetuates the fictitious notion that Israel is the victim in this ongoing conflict. This classification helps excuse Israel’s international human rights violations and disproportionate acts of reprisal that they have rendered “self-defense.” It not only justifies the Israeli agenda — one the encompasses illegal occupation, murder, annexation of land, home demolitions, and expansion of illegal settlements — but warrants this type of behavior because in this narrative Israel is always the victim and is merely employing measures to “protect” itself.
Framing the Palestinians as annihilators of peace who are “committed to the destruction” of Israel necessitates a response and essentially paves the way for a “justified” illegal occupation. Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy, was correct when he stated, “Israel makes a point of setting prerequisites and believes it has an exclusive right to do so. But, time and time again, Israel avoids the most basic prerequisite for any just peace -- an end to the occupation.”
Israel continues to hinder the peace process but points the finger on the Palestinians. Well, it’s time to point the finger back. We must rewrite this false narrative and display a commitment to the efficacy of the peaceful and non--violent Palestinian and Israeli activist movement. This can be achieved by demanding truthful accounts about this conflict. We must not brook political carelessness and false statements by the very individuals who wish to govern us. Romney’s impassive remark demonstrates that he lacks substantial leadership in any future peace processes. How can you help create a lasting peace agreement when you have already dismissed one of the actors? The fate of the Palestinian Israeli conflict is indeterminate but I can confidently say that Romney will not be the leader we need to ameliorate the conditions.