Former Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon said in 1973: “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement in between the Palestinians and another strip of Jewish settlement right across the West Bank so that in 25 years’ time neither the U.N. nor the U.S., nobody will be able to tear it apart.” Again, in 1998 shortly before being elected prime minister, Sharon wrote: “Everyone has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours … Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”
Since that time, innumerable illegal Israeli settlements have fragmented the land in the West Bank while creating a concentration camp of Palestinian Gaza, thus making the creation of a viable Palestinian state increasingly more difficult.
Sharon’s “pastrami sandwich” land grab policy continues to be pursued today. It has effectively prevented peace in the Holy Land and has successfully prevented establishment of a homeland for an ancient race of people who today are virtually impotent in their ability to be heard or assisted by the world at large.
The most recent Israeli atrocity against the Palestinian people went terribly awry; not because nine innocent humanitarian activists were slaughtered but because the Israeli government was caught. Among the 800 participants in the flotilla mission to bring relief to the starving Palestinians were numerous credible representatives from more than 40 nations who bear witness to the terrorist assault by Israel. Israelis labeled the incident “a global public relations faux pas.”
For the past 63 years, the Israeli government has been assisted in its massive and effective global public relations campaign by nations such as the United States who hear only the Israeli position. There is not one member of the United States Congress who hails from a Palestinian heritage. There is not one billionaire contributor to a U.S. political campaign who hails from a Palestinian heritage. There is not one major U.S. newspaper, radio or TV station owner or editor who hails from a Palestinian heritage.
Due to the powerful political, economic and religious forces in the U.S., Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned. The Israeli points of view dominate in our media while the Palestinian voices are muted. As a consequence, most American citizens are sadly unaware of the appalling circumstances prevalent in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Palestinian children, women and men are being systematically starved out of existence. The despicable Wall of Apartheid around Gaza prevents food, water, medicines, reconstruction materials and family contacts from relieving the agonies of 1.5 million Gaza citizens. They are denied basic human and civil rights while most Americans remain oblivious.
American complicity in the concentration camp conditions that exist in Gaza is exemplified by the three billion U.S. taxpayer dollars that are annually contributed to Israel’s coffers to be used to victimize Palestinians. In addition, millions of individual American citizens donate untold multimillions of dollars in the mistaken belief that Israel is the victim. Israel’s public relations machine perpetuates their now outdated victimization model to assure the flow of sympathy and funds is uninterrupted by facts.
America’s position need not be “pro-Palestine” or “pro-Israel” to speak out against the atrocities being committed against the Palestinian people. The “pro-human” stand against the Nazi atrocities in the 1940s that America — and the world — failed to take must not be repeated today.
Jonathan Ben-Artzi, the nephew of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a doctoral candidate at Brown University, suggests that Americans “refuse to accept the prevailing ‘pro-Israel’ narrative, and learn about the situation through means other than mass corporate media.” Being “pro-Israel,” he points out, does not mean blindly supporting anything that Israel does.
Until Israel lifts the ruthless siege of Gaza, removes travel restrictions from West Bank Palestinians and mandates equal rights to all, the flow of American dollars to Israel must stop. Until then, Israel will continue to flout international law with impunity and ignore the basic human rights of the undefended 1.5 million Israeli Palestinians and 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel’s pastrami sandwich policy must be brought to an end.
Maureen Jones-Ryan is a psychologist and writer. She recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Palestine, Jordan and Israel. She lives on Campobello Island, New Brunswick.