Mitt Romney’s ‘gaffe’ is nothing of the sort

19 September 2012

The papers today are full of the latest alleged ‘gaffe’ by Mitt Romney. It has become a staple of US election coverage that any Democrat’s foreign policy fumble is a ‘mis-speak’ while any Republican saying something even mildly contentious – as opposed to wrong – is a world-class clanger which shows them to be unfit for office.

Today’s Romney ‘gaffe’ relates to his reported comments on the Middle East. This is not exactly a region in which the Obama administration has covered itself in glory.  But even as Obama’s policy failings are being felt, it is Romney who is being lambasted for, among other things, his claim that ‘the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.’

There have been the usual smirks about this, largely rooted in the idea that the Palestinians are made up of two completely different factions: 1) Hamas, who for the purposes of this argument are regarded as a bit extreme: 2) the nice moderates of Fatah who are the peacemakers.


The complexities of Palestinian politics are too great for a single answer in a Q and A or indeed a blogpost. But Romney did not get to his conclusion from nowhere. It is possible, for instance, that he has followed the career of the Fatah leader and PA Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas.

Very little in his biography suggests that he is a man of peace. And alas the problem continues. How to explain this, for instance, from Palestinian Media Watch, earlier this year:

‘PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas sent a condolence telegram to the family of the killed terrorist Abu Aram, in which he called him “pure of heart.” The soldier’s act of shooting the terrorist who tried to kill him was defined by Abbas as an “assassination.” The official PA daily referred to the soldier’s self-defense as a “loathsome crime,” while the attempted stabbing of the Israeli soldier was called “legitimate struggle.”

A few days later, Mahmoud Abbas sent his personal representative, Abbas Zaki, to visit the families of both terrorists and to express the leadership’s “solidarity.” Zaki said that the death of Aram was “cold-blooded murder” and “expressed the pride of the Palestinian leadership in this generation and in this heroism.”’

You may disagree with Romney. You may see absolutely masses of evidence that the PA or Fatah are dedicated to the peace process. Or you may believe, as I do, that those Palestinians who are genuinely interested in peace, and recognise the right of a Jewish state to exist alongside a Palestinian state, are – at the very least – exceptionally badly represented at the moment.

But Romney’s point of view is not a gaffe. It is a conclusion anybody might legitimately draw. The fact that the Republican candidate refuses to join many Europeans and Democrats in mistaking hope for analysis is something he should be congratulated on, rather than ridiculed for.

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  • HarryTheHornyHippo

    Wishful thinking DM. If he could turn back the clock and ‘un-speak’ those comments do you think he wouldn’t?

  • aspacia

    PC will kill this country–speaking fact has become offensive. How dishonest

  • Andy Gill

    Romney only said out loud what everybody already knows. The Palestinians don’t want peace, they want Israel to disappear. It’s about time the west acknowledged that simple fact.

  • keeshond

    Don’t bother earning yourself a crust with this witter, Douglas; give it to the Palestinians. Romney won’t get in and most in the occupied territories are too exhausted and hungry to give it much thought, anyway.

    • disquietude

      Too exhausted from being overweight and.. hungry? For jewish blood, it would seem.

  • Weygand

    When Romney gives the green light to his chum Netanyahu to blow up the nuclear facilities in Iran and the resulting international chaos undermines the US economy (and security of its individual citizens at home and abroad), let’s see how many are congratulating him then.

    Fortunately, this seems to be only a counter-factual proposition, as opinion polls show that the overall thrust of Romney’s speech lowered his approval rating. At least in general terms, therefore, it would be fair to call it a gaffe.

    • Augustus

      So what did Romney say that we didn’t
      already know? Were his remarks necessarily a “gaffe”? How about U.S. President
      Barack Obama’s reckless response to the murder of the American ambassador in
      Benghazi? Or the feeble response by left-wingers of the world to the bloody
      Muslim riots now underway? No, Romney told the bitter truth, indirectly
      suggesting that the current president has led the Americans, and the entire
      West, down a dangerous path. A path that has disintegrated the precarious world
      order and has borne political and military chaos, favourable to terror cells
      within the heart of Western civilization, and surrounding it. Perhaps that is what the current American presidential
      election is all about: a battle between those who tell the truth and those who
      pretend that the Arab world is undergoing an “Arab Spring” rather than an
      Islamic winter. The dangers currently facing the West are so severe that even the lefty mumbo jumbo can’t disguise them. Instead of talking, we have to face the dangers boldly. That starts with telling the truth.

    • Baron

      Weygand, your logic’s impeccable, sir, why not take it a notch further and agree that everything Romney says is a gaffe, and everything the messiah utters is a pearl of wisdom to be cast in stone.

      Will you go along with it?

  • titus

    hmmm. the two dissenting commenters don’t seem to have read the essay. Nevertheless, well written, Mr Murray.

  • Augustus

    Major concessions to Israel, such as giving up right of return of Palestinian
    refugees, recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people or allowing any
    Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem, would probably end the perceived
    legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority. Without those concessions there cannot be peace. The Palestinian Authority
    has known this all along and it has obviously stuck to its demands for right of return, its refusal to recognize Israel as the state
    of the Jewish people and its refusal to grant any Israeli sovereignty in East
    Jerusalem, precisely because those conditions prevent peace. Peace would very possibly bring down the Palestinian Authority government. It
    would certainly create a lot of problems for the new Palestinian state with Iran
    and Syria, not to mention Hamas and the PA’s Islamic Jihad. And it would finally put pressure on the Fatah to provide real administrative reform. A great
    many people benefit from corruption, and would be unwilling to part with the old
    order. But the clincher for them is that they unremittingly believe that, Allah willing, they will one day be able to declare a state unilaterally, which will be a deluxe version of a ‘Palestinian State’, unhampered by inconvenient agreements with the Zionist entity. It will claim, at
    least, all of the land conquered by Israel in the Six Day War as well as
    demanding right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees. It will be
    backed by the Arab states, and Palestinians have good reason to believe it will
    be backed by the European Union. If so, why should they spend any effort
    negotiating away what they see as their rights, as long as they believe they can have all of their demands without negotiating seriously?

    • victor67

      Its not the Palestinians killing the 2 state solution its the Likudniks and the jewish fundamentalists in the settler movement. Israel should have supported the Pals last september at the UN and been thankful they were not asking for one person one vote, thats where we will be in a few years time.
      Also you and other Israeli first guys have no respect for International law. All of the West Bank including East Jerusalem is illeagally occupied land but when did Israel ever care for that or UN resolutions.

      • JabbaTheCat

        “Its not the Palestinians killing the 2 state solution its the Likudniks and the jewish fundamentalists in the settler movement.”

        The lack of a two state solution lies firmly in the the Palestinian camp, as they are not going to trade lucrative victimhood and the influx of free money it brings from around the world, for complete poverty based on an economy of polishing sand grains and camel turds…

        • victor67

          The facts don’t suport your argument.Two years ago the leaked Palestinian papers showed a weak Palestinian leadership desperate to do a deal and making major concessions on the refugee’s and Jerusalem. Still Israel rejected it.

        • victor67

          Your comment is indicitive of the racism that pervades some aspects of modern zionism. This is one of the reasons the global community is turning its back on Israel.
          In terms of victimhood . Israel usually comes up with a holocaust analogy to justify its preemtive “defensive” wars hence Ahmadinajad= Hitler . Before the bloody invasion of Lebanon in the 1980s Shamir said it is either this or Treblinka.

      • Augustus

        I have an old newspaper dated 1st June, 1948. Its crumbling yellow front page reports that the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem has
        been set on fire and the UN requested cease fire was rejected by the Arab
        League. The Arabs felt they were winning. Meanwhile there was no word from the
        Israeli government in Tel Aviv. Maybe their lines of communications were cut or
        maybe they were stunned at the loss of Jerusalem. Or maybe they were too busy
        preparing whatever needed to be done in order to reverse the situation. After
        all, this was the first time in thousands of years that Jews when prevented with
        a calamity, could actually do something about it. And they did, the silence did
        not last very long. An arms deal with Czechoslovakia was struck, and soon the
        Jewish state could provide its soldiers with guns ánd bullets. The war of 1948 did not have a forgone conclusion. That moment of quiet could have
        easily turned into an eternity of silence. Which is why it is no wonder
        Palestinians have demanded a second chance ever since.

  • victor67

    Those dam Palestinian why don’t they just roll over and except their violent expulsion from their homeland and regular bombing, shooting and missile attacks . How dare they fight back.
    I think Romney forgot he is speaking now to the wider public and not the ultra zionists at AIPAC.

    • Augustus


    • Baron

      victor67, only when the Palestinians have a genuine multi-party system, run regular and free elections, abandon the destruction of Israel will they get the support from Baron, it’s that simple.

    • Inessa

      That would be terrible, ….. if it were true. Unfortunately, there are many people, like you, who don’t let facts get in the way. The majority were not forced to leave, they left encouraged by Arab countries telling them that the land would be liberated, and they would return free and victorious. They knew that in leaving, they were giving up their citizenship and right of return. As recently as 30 years ago, people left Russia and Ukraine, as refugees, and immediately lost their citizenship, permanently. However, they also stopped being refugees as soon as they became permanent residents of their new countries.
      The evidence – 20% of Israel’s population is Palestenian Arabs. About 20 seats in the Knesset (government) are held by Muslim Arabs. How many Jews are represented in government in Muslim countries? How about even the moderate and secular Turkey? Never mind the Jews, how many Christians? Do they have representation proportional to their population? About the same number of Jews were expelled (even more) or fled from Muslim countries since 1948, with their property confiscated, and no right of return, as so called Palestenian refugees. No one hears about these Jewish refugees, who lived in Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Morocco, etc literally since biblical times, because they were absorbed into Israel. No refugee camps and crocodile tears.

      • Baron

        Inessa, spot on, you do appreciate it though, you are talking to the blind and deaf here, these people cannot be argued with, even if the Israelis were to commit suicide en masse these pseudo-liberal tossers would still blame them for everything and anything decades, centuries later..

        • Inessa

          Thanks Baron,
          I do appreciate it, sadly. Basic logic never seems to work in this case. I just find it so sad all these leftists finding a cause in the Palestenian Muslims, a people who would cheerfully string up homosexuals, whose idea of women’s rights includes honour killing for going out and getting herself raped, regular abuse of women, who exalt martyrdom to children, and who sack a school principal for allowing students to dance on an Israeli beach. If Israelis did mass suicide, they would be blamed for the escalating violence of Muslims against Muslims. What I don’t think I will ever understand, is how they managed to sell the idea that a country which is 1/6 of 1 percent of the Middle East, disputing a small percent of this tiny area and building houses on it, is the one main reason there is conflict in all of the Middle East.

  • JabbaTheCat

    Common sense as usual from Murray…

  • cg

    If Romney is elected he will allow US foreign policy to be dictated by Netanyahu an the Likud Party. He has as much as said so in his own words. do you really think that anybody who is willing to throw away their own country’s independence in such a manner is fit for any kind of office whatsoever? Like it or not, without a settlement to the middle east problem, Israel faces a dredful future. Real friends of Israel recognise this. Friends of the Likud do not.

    • T. Botham

      Ah, those “real friends of Israel”. Out of true concern for a nation under existential threat, they have formed their own DC lobby: J Street. They support the phases liberation of Palestine: first a two state, then a one state, solution. The glory of it for anti-Zionists is that leftist Jews founded it, so they have cover from accusations of you-know-what. So that poor patsy – American government – can take its pick of which Elders it wants to be manipulated by.
      Obama, by the way, was voted for by leftists – including leftist Jews – precisely because he was willing to throw away his own country’s leadership – independent action – in taking a weak-horse policy. With Islam mobbing America in 24 countries, it is not Netanyahu driving his foreign policy. Islam is holding the reins and wearing the spurs.

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