Re: Culture Is Not Race, Mr. Erekat

by Mark Krikorian

Charles: There was more to Palestinian spokesman Erekat’s attack on Romney’s comments about culture contributing to Israel’s success:

“He does not know the situation on the ground, he does not the settlement activities, he does not know that the Palestinian economy suffers most because of the Israeli occupation, because of the road blocks and closure and so on,” Erekat said.

We have to be honest and acknowledge that the road blocks and whatnot are likely an impediment to economic growth in Judea and Samaria. But to see the economic backwardness not caused by those measures, one might look at Arab countries not occupied by Israel. The CIA World Factbook lists Israel’s per capita GDP, on a purchasing-power parity basis, as $31,400. Lebanon’s is $15,700, Egypt $6,600, Jordan $6,000, Syria $5,100, Iraq $3,900. The tiny Gulf sheikhdoms, with lots of oil and no people, are higher, but even Saudi Arabia has a per capita GDP significantly lower than Israel’s — $24,500 — and Libya (also with oil and few people) is at $14,100. The CIA reports the combined per capita GDP of the West Bank and Gaza as $2,900; that’s lower than other Arab countries, so one could indeed plausibly argue that the “road blocks and closures and so on” are part of the reason for Palestinian backwardness, but obviously not a very large part and certainly not “most” of the reason, as claimed by Erekat.