Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Blog

By now, everyone has at least heard of the secret video recordings of Romney speaking at a private fundraiser, in which he argued against the creation of a sovereign or viable Palestinian state. Following those remarks, Romney predicted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be solved, and that all you can do is “move things along the best way you can, you hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem.” 


The first thing one notices when hearing or reading such comments is how out-of-step Romney is not just with stated American policy for more than a couple of decades, but with his own Republican party on this. It was Republican President George H. W. Bush who got into a major clash with Israel over continued settlement expansion, and it was President George W. Bush who insisted on the creation of a “viable Palestinian state.” Not only that, but the Republican Party platform of 2012, the one just passed at the convention that officially accepted Romney as the Party’s nominee, explicitly states that the way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to have “two democratic states.”

But this is not just about Romney being out-of-step with his own country and party on this issue, it's also about him having gotten things backwards. This attitude of unthinkingly going along with Israel’s objections to Palestinian self-determination is not the outcome of this conflict being unsolvable; it is precisely what will keep this conflict from being solved. To treat this conflict as though it were unsolvable is to condemn Israelis and Palestinians to perpetual instability and violence, and even a one-sided friend of Israel aught to recognize why we should do all we can to prevent that perpetuation.

There is an elementary moral principle called “the principle of universality,” which essentially states that if something is right for us then it is right for others, and if it’s wrong for others then it’s wrong for us. If Romney took that principle seriously, and viewed Palestinians as equally deserving of basic rights as Israelis are, the fallibility of his attitude would immediately occur to him via the opposite thought: if Palestinians cannot object to Israeli sovereignty or self-determination, then Israelis cannot object to Palestinian sovereignty or self-determination. Romney would do well to step back into the mainstream fold of American politics which, despite not having the best record on Middle East policy, at least recognizes that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an American interest, and that an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine is necessary to bringing that resolution about.

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