Last week Mitt Romney compared the success of Israelis relative to Palestinians to the success the American economy has over its neighbors. Today he pointed to one element of Israeli society - the Kibbutz - as the antithesis of American individualism.
During a fundraiser at a Maggiano's restaurant in Chicago, Romney went on a riff about President Obama's argument that businesses in the U.S. rely on help from society and from the government.
"The other day when the president said that remarkable thing, I couldn't believe he'd actually said it. I was incredulous. I read what the president said was if you have a business you didn't build it, someone else did that. [laughter] He didn't really say that did he? And then I went and read the text and in fact he had said that. And looked on Youtube and saw him saying it. And he says well I was taken out of context, look at the context. It's worse than the quote! [laughter, applause]. I mean he says you know that these people think they're successful, excuse me, these people think they're smart, but there are a lot of people that are smart. Yes. These people think they work hard, but a lot of people work hard. Yes. Where is he going with this? Is there something that's not good about being smart and working hard? Is there not a tribute to be paid to the kid who gets the honor roll because she worked hard or to the guy who gets the promotion because they're smart and worked hard, or to the person who started the business and made it successful and employs people. It is a lack of understanding of how America's economy works at the fundamental, granular level that I think has contributed to the failure of his economic policies."
Then he added a reference to a Kibbutz, which is a Hebrew word for "communal settlement."
"It's individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America," said Romney. "What America is, is not a collective where we all work in a Kibbutz or we all in some little entity, instead it's individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises."
According to the Jewish Virtual Library about 2.5 percent of Israelis live on 250 different Kibbutz, which were begun before the establishment of the state of Israel.
Last week Mitt Romney caught some flack from Palestinians for suggesting that Israelis are more successful than Palestinians because their culture is different. Here's how Emily Friedman reported on it at the time:
At the fundraiser at the King David hotel in Jerusalem, Romney said, "As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality."
"And that exists also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador; Mexico and the United States," Romney added.
Then, mentioning the book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," Romney said the author had made the point about culture and how it "makes all the difference."
"And as I come here and I look out over this city 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."