Romney Defends 'Culture' Remark, Which Drew Palestinian Ire

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) - In an opinion piece published online Tuesday, Mitt Romney defended a comment he made in Israel that drew the ire of Palestinians.

On Monday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee pointed to a wealth disparity between Israelis and Palestinians and referenced a book which argued that "culture makes all the difference."

"As I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," he said.

A top Palestinian said Romney's remarks were "racist."

On Tuesday, Romney wrote in an opinion piece published on the website of the conservative National Review, "(W)hat exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?"

In his piece, Romney offered up the United States and Israel, among other countries, as examples.

"The linkage between freedom and economic development has a universal applicability,” he wrote. “One only has to look at the contrast between East and West Germany, and between North and South Korea for the starkest demonstrations of the meaning of freedom and the absence of freedom."

"Israel is also a telling example," he added. "It is a democracy that has embraced liberty, both political and economic. This embrace has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom. In the face of improbable odds, Israel today is a world leader in fields ranging from medicine to information technology."

Romney said the United States’ struggles for freedom had influenced American culture.

“We fought a bloody civil war against slavery and it took a nonviolent civil-rights movement to bring political and social equality to all Americans," he wrote. "In these epic struggles we changed our ‘culture’ and vastly improved it."

Romney also stood by his comments in an earlier television interview, when he said his comments were misconstrued by some who were offended.

"I'm not speaking about, did not speak about, the Palestinian culture, or the decisions made in their economy," he said on Fox News. "That's an interesting topic that deserves scholarly analysis, but I actually didn't address that. I certainly don't plan to address that during my campaign. Instead, I will point out, the choices a society makes have a profound impact on the economy and the vitality of that society."

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