Romney remarks on Mideast peace process are troubling

Henry I. Schvey is professor of drama and comparative literature at Washington University. 

By Henry I. Schvey

Recent press clippings surrounding Mitt Romney’s unscripted remarks at a Boca Raton fundraiser have concentrated on the GOP presidential candidate’s derisive and dismissive remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay taxes, will not vote for him, and whom he seems to have written off not merely as voters but as human beings. However, more revealing—and even more troubling—were his candid, off-the-cuff remarks concerning Israel and the Middle East. 

Far from actively encouraging and supporting the peace process, as every U.S. president—both Democrat and Republican—has done since Jimmy Carter signed the Camp David Accords in September, 1978, Mr. Romney’s remarks suggest he would relegate peace in the Middle East to the dustbin of history: “You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” Romney said. “And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” 

When informed by an unnamed former Secretary of State that, despite the long odds, there was indeed some prospect for peace in the region, the presidential candidate’s curiously incurious comment was that “I didn’t delve into it.” 

As November’s election approaches, those who care about Israel’s survival as a democratic nation, and support the official U.S. position of a two-state solution with the Palestinians, must realize that Mr. Romney’s political position constitutes no position at all. His latest remarks display with the candor and comfort of a supportive audience, a mind unripe and a spirit unwilling to embrace the challenges of the dangerous world we live in. 

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All the wealth and all the ambition in the world will not make a man who is intellectually unwilling to delve into the dark waters of the Middle East equal to the task before us as a nation. Romney’s candid remarks in Boca Raton remind us that there is more at stake in this election than the economy. Both the future of Israel and the possibility of peace for future generations depend on our seeing through the charade of a Romney presidency. Not “delving into it” is simply not an option.