I have quoted this at length so that when I say that this is utterly lies and rubbish you will have heard both sides. Note, however, that the AP did not present the other side.
The fact is that in economic terms the West Bank and Gaza Strip did well in the years of occupation, as can be statistically documented, except during periods of high-level, Palestinian-initiated violence. Especially egregious is that the AP highlights a blockade on the Gaza Strip without explaining why that happened. How can Hamas be a victim if you are the perpetrator of the problem by continuous rocket, mortar, and cross-border attacks against Israel?
In addition, by turning to violence instead of negotiating — remember the Palestinians could have negotiated a two-state solution as early as the late 1970s after Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat’s initiative — they damaged their own situation. Repeated intifadas, terrorism, corruption, and the Hamas-Fatah war, plus Hamas’s attacks on Israel, have a lot more to do with economic damage than anything Israel has done. Why were there once tens of thousands of Palestinians earning good money by working in Israel daily, and now only a handful? Racial discrimination or the fact that some used the opportunity to commit terrorist violence?
Far from being victims, the Palestinians have been coddled by the international community for more than two decades. The Palestinian Authority has not been held responsible for corruption and squandering money, behavior that had no effect on the flow of proportionally huge cash payments. Nor has it been punished politically for its incitement and intransigence. And it refuses to resettle people from refugee camps into regular housing. Only Palestinians in all the world receive refugee status and UN welfare payments over many generations.
While Israeli economic pressure has played a role, Israel has also transferred millions of dollars of customs and other payments to the PA while always opposing cut-offs in international aid because that might destabilize the Palestinian regime and lead to even more violence. Moreover, World Bank and International Monetary Fund reports have repeatedly said that such pressures were a relatively secondary factor in comparison to the internal flaws of the Palestinian governments and economy. In other words, the Associated Press has dishonestly misrepresented the contents of the reports.
And finally there is one simple, decisive argument. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, for example, have not been under Israeli occupation. So why haven’t they flourished?
Whining eternally that you are a victim and putting your priority on getting sympathy and hand-outs get in the way of doing what’s necessary to start being successful. Those Third World peoples and countries who have learned these lessons have done well; those who haven’t done so have become basket cases.
The bottom line is this: Romney is bringing us back to the proper argument on the causes of economic development and stagnation. Indeed, his standpoint is the same as post-colonial liberal development theory in the era before radicals, drawing on Lenin and Marxist ideology, redefined it by blaming everything on some endless imperialism.
Romney’s points also apply to America as well as to the Middle East. The main problem is not Israel, or capitalism, or a racial group meanly oppressing someone else, but on bad and undemocratic governance along with demagogic leaders encouraging their followers to adopt behavior not conducive with progress and prosperity.
And what can we say of the Western intellectuals, “experts,” journalists, and politicians who encourage the Third World and many other groups to continue going down the road of poverty, hatred, violence, and instability?
Note: A large number of mainstream media outlets and columnists have attacked Romney for his statement mainly, echoing the AP story, because he didn’t talk about the negative effects of Israeli policy on the Palestinian economy. Because, you see, nobody can be successful and prosperous unless they stole it from others.
To my knowledge not a single one pointed out: 1. Statistics showing major advances during the period of Israeli occupation; 2. Palestinian violence has been the main cause of Israeli roadblocks and interventions; 3. A comparison to non-oil rich Arab countries showing that the Palestinian Authority has not done at all badly in comparison to those where Israel had no effect; 4. The massive corruption and incompetence of the PA; 5. The massive inflow of international aid to the Palestinians; and 6. The large transfer of funds (as provided in the Oslo agreement but PA behavior did not make Israel violate the agreement) from Israel to the PA regarding refunds on customs duties and workers’ fringe benefits. This is how shameless the coverage is on these issues. It’s funny to think that only a couple of months ago, the same media outlets were talking about a big economic boom on the West Bank.