Romney: Yes, Culture Does Matter

Jonathan Miller
National Journal

When Mitt Romney suggested earlier this week that cultural differences could explain Israel’s economic success compared to Palestinians, it created a furor and Romney later said that he was not speaking about the Palestinian culture. But in a new opinion piece out in the National Review Tuesday, Romney says that, yes, “culture does matter” after all.

“During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity,” Romney wrote, “and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it.”

While acknowledging the ensuing controversy, in which a high-ranking Palestinian official called his comments “racist,” Romney argues, "what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?”

Romney goes on to explain that it is “freedom” that is the main cultural factor that explains the success of the U.S. and Israel, the latter of which he says has a “culture that is based upon individual freedom and the rule of law,” adding that such a culture “has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom.”