Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has indicated since the event described here that he joins the ranks of mainstream leaders of both major parties in supporting a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. But in this recent article, “Mitt Versus the Middle East,” Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg indicates his concern about Governor Romney’s understanding of the issue as follows:
…. “The pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish,” Romney says in the now-famous video of his May 17 campaign event, uncovered by Mother Jones. Put aside the candidate’s struggle with English diction, and forget the ignorance of geography that allows him to assert that the West Bank has a common border with “Syria at one point.” Romney dismisses any possibility of reaching a two-state agreement, and therefore rejects an American role in facilitating such an agreement.
Though Israeli-Arab peace has been an American strategic goal since 1967, though presidents of both parties have agreed that reaching peace requires an Israeli pullback from occupied territory, Romney says that “the idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up … is the worst idea in the world.” He admits that a former secretary of state phoned to tell him that there would be an opening for a peace agreement after Palestinian elections. Demonstrating his level of intellectual curiosity and concern with foreign affairs, Romney says, “I didn’t delve into that,” that being asking the ex-secretary to explain. As president, he would “kick the ball down the field” so that someone else can deal with it in some distant era.
Romney justifies this stance by asserting that “the Palestinians” do not want peace. This comment demonstrates why the definite article, used by an ignorant man, can be one of the most dangerous words in the English language. “The Palestinians,” all of them, uncannily united, are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel,” Romney asserts. A national group looks like a single, faceless mass when you don’t care to learn anything about their personalities, their ideas, the divisions between them. For Romney, the split in Palestinian public opinion between supporters of a two-state and a one-state solution doesn’t exist. Hamas and Fatah are the same, and neither of those movements has any internal debate. For that matter, Romney’s comments to his donors suggest that he has a hard time drawing a distinction between the conservative Sunni, Arab kingdom of Jordan and the non-Arab, Shi’ite republic of Iran. Jordan’s King Abdullah would let Mahmoud Ahmadinejad use Jordan as a transit point for shipping Iranian arms into the West Bank, he implies. Those people are all the same….