US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney left Israel for Poland Monday
with over $1 million more in his campaign war chest than when he arrived,
following the first-ever presidential fund-raiser in the country.
people attended breakfast at a room in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel with Romney,
his wife, and one of his sons, at the price of $50,000 per couple. Romney spoke
for some 20 minutes and focused on the economy, both in the US and in
He then took a couple of questions.
Romney’s wife, Ann,
also spoke briefly, and expressed her attachment to Israel.
“As you come
here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about
$21,000 dollars, 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,” Mitt Romney
Citing Harvard professor David Landes’ book The Wealth and Poverty
of Nations, Romney attributed the differences to culture, an innovative business
culture, and the resilience of the Jewish people.
“I am overwhelmingly
impressed with the hand of providence, whenever it chooses to apply itself, and
also the greatness of the human spirit, and how individuals who reach for
greatness and have purpose above themselves are able to build and accomplish
things that could only be done by a species created in the image of God,” Romney said.
“I come to this place, therefore, with a sense of
profound humility, as I look around here at great people who’ve accomplished a
great thing, and also a sense of spiritual connection, acknowledging the hand of
providence in establishing this place and making it a holy city.”
Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List – Ta’al) slammed the presumptive Republican
presidential hopeful’s comments, saying they represented a combination of
“racism and ignorance,” along with totally ignoring the limitations on “an
economy under occupation.”
Romney sat during the breakfast at the head of
a Ushaped table with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has said he is willing
to spend $100 million to defeat US President Barack Obama in the coming
Among others attending the event were New York Jets owner
Woody Johnson, New York hedge fund manager Paul Singer, New York lawyer Phil
Rosen, New York healthcare venture capitalist Ken Abramowitz, Miami businessman
Simon Falic, Detroit developer John Rakolta, Bob Pence – a Virginia based
commercial developer – and Lisa Spies, who is Romney’s finance
Marc Zell, co-chairman of Republicans Abroad Israel, pointed out
that 15-20 percent of those in the room were
Abramowitz, who flew in especially for this event and
Romney’s speech Sunday evening overlooking the Old City walls, said he did so
because “I passionately want Romney elected.”
“If he can take the time
out of his busy schedule to come here, I can come and greet him,” said
Abramowitz, who has attended a fundraiser a month for Romney for the past 10
Asked if he thought Romney felt an emotional connection to
Israel, Abramowitz said he felt the former Massachusetts governor had a warm
place in his heart for Israel.
Romney, he said, appreciates Israel from a
business perspective, and also has deep respect for America’s allies.
addition, said Abramowitz, as a Mormon – a religion with only some 14 million
adherents around the world, similar to the world’s Jewish population – Romney
understands what it is like to be part of a minority religion that has felt
Zell said Monday’s event was the first time either
party had held a fund-raiser in Israel.
Under US law, only US citizens or
holders of valid Green Cards are allowed to contribute to campaigns.
said both parties were fundraising aggressively overseas, with the Obama
campaign having held dinners in numerous countries, including China, Hong Kong