“Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” is a 2009 book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer about the economy of Israel.
The Council on Foreign Relations asks in its blurb for the book : “How is it that Israel — a country of 7.1 million people, only sixty years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources—produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the United Kingdom?”
It’s a good question — one that presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney touched on today in comments to Jewish donors in Israel. According to the Associated Press, Romney noted that per capita GDP is much higher in Israel than in nearby areas managed by the Palestinian Authority. This is a factually accurate observation, although Romney’s numbers were off. (He overstated per capita GDP in the Palestinan-controlled areas.) Then the fit really hit the shan when Romney attributed Israel’s remarkable economic success in part to the country’s culture and to “the hand of providence.”
Naturally, Palestinian leaders are outraged by Romney’s comments, which they deemed “racist”:
Palestinian official says Romney's stance on disputed Jerusalem `absolutely unacceptable' http://t.co/dxySrVam #Romney
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) July 30, 2012
The reaction from anti-Romney forces on Twitter was equally swift and heated:
Utter coldness Mitt Romney exhibited when speaking about Palestinian people shows he is morally unfit to be President of the United States.
— Picasso Kat (@Picassokat) July 30, 2012
Perhaps Romney thinks God placed 540 checkpoints in West Bank, besieged Gaza, and made Palestinian exports impossible? http://t.co/xuuDyDEA
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) July 30, 2012
Romney claims Jewish culture the reason Israel's GDP higher than Gaza/West Bank. He means Isreal's culture of Palestinian oppression, right?
— Christopher R. (@CRWaterhouse) July 30, 2012
Romney's comment that Israelis are richer than Palestinians because of their culture is racist, disrespectful and ignorant. #OutOfTouch
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) July 30, 2012
So Romney spouts racist insults to black people in the US and the Palestinians in Israel. I detect a pattern. #RomneyShambles @EricBoehlert
— Hesiod Theogony (@Hesiod2k11) July 30, 2012
Romney's "Palestinian culture" comment is reminiscent of what about Jews for centuries. Does he have similar lens re: poor Americans?
— Amy Fried (@ASFried) July 30, 2012
Please. Romney’s comments were innocuous and obvious. They were similar in spirit to those made last month by Google chairman/Obama advisor Eric Schmidt, who called Israel a “tech miracle” and said, “We love Israel.”
Can anyone seriously believe that Israel’s pro-business climate and start-up friendly ethos have nothing to do with its incredible economic success?
President Barack Obama, who recently told small businessmen that they did not deserve credit for building their own businesses, could learn a lot from Israel.
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