ELLIOTT ABRAMS, AUGUST 1, 2012 2:45 P.M.
Hermann Goering is usually “credited” with the line “When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun.” Apparently the allergy to the word “culture” remains strong, for its use by Mitt Romney has been viewed by certain Palestinian “leaders” and by the elite Western press as a scandal.
Romney has explained further: “During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy. But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?”
What did Romney actually say in Jerusalem? The full context of his remarks is conveyed in very few of the stories complaining about or attacking them, so here is the relevant portion:
I was thinking this morning, as I prepared to come into this room, of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about the differences between countries. And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States.