In an effort to curry the Jewish vote in the United States, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney explained that Israel is a greater success story than Palestine because of Israel’s welcoming business climate, the Jews’ history of surviving difficult circumstances, and the “hand of providence.” If this is supposed to endear me to the Governor it failed miserably. Here’s why:
First, he seems to think that Palestinians and Israelis operate on a level playing field, which is absurd. I’m not saying that if Palestinians had had their own nation for 60 plus years backed by the most powerful economy and military in the world they would do as well as Israelis, but I am saying that until they do there is no comparing the two.
Second, European Jewish history for much the past 2000 years was one of poverty. While we survived Christian oppression we didn’t thrive under it. It was the end of theocracy that started the process of Jewish emancipation that allowed some Jews to prosper. If we Jews still lived under Popes and pogroms I doubt Mitt would be looking to us for donations.
And third, if the “hand of providence” makes Jews successful, why doesn’t it make all Jews successful? There are thousands and thousands of poor Jews around the world including Israel. Does God favor some Jews over others? And if it is true that the hand of providence rests on the Jews, why are Mormons so eager to convert us to Mormonism? Does God love Mormons more than Jews so that conversion is a step up the hand of providence ladder?
Then the governor went on to say that similar traits explain the difference between the American and Mexican economies as well. Really? Does God love Americans more than Mexicans? That would explain a lot, but is it true?
I suspect that Governor Romney is simply inarticulate rather than ignorant, and tone deaf rather than deliberately insensitive, yet the whole thing with Jews and economic success sounds like code for a very old slur often used against us, i.e. that “Jews are good with money.” Somebody on his staff should have warned him about this.
I fully expect Governor Romney to be the next President of the United States. This may be because I live in Tennessee “the reddest state in the Land of the Free,” after all when I lived in Massachusetts I thought Michael Dukakis was going to be President as well. But if he is our next president I hope he hires some very smart people to help the man with his finger on the button from continually putting his feet in his mouth.
*mittendrinen is Yiddish for “in the midst of it all”