Only a decade after the fall of apartheid in South Africa, after we all thought we had seen the end of that hateful system, we are witnessing the emergence of another apartheid-style regime, that of Israel over the incipient Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem. This, at least, seems the likely outcome of the “peace process” begun in Oslo and continued, if haltingly, at the July Camp David summit. Whether a Palestinian state actually emerges from the Oslo process or Israel’s occupation becomes permanent, the essential elements of apartheid — exclusivity, inequality, separation, control, dependency, violations of human rights and suffering — are likely to deﬁne the relationship between Israel and the Occupied Territories/Palestine.
The failure of the Palestinian-Israeli-American summit at Camp David did not surprise most Palestinians or those who understand Palestinian opinion on the issues. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's well-publicized "red lines" going into the negotiations delineated a position very far from the minimum that the Palestinian national consensus could accept as a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak postponed this week's cabinet meeting from Sunday to Tuesday in an effort to resolve the crisis prompted by the Shas Party's announcement that it is leaving his government. Shas (Sephardi Torah Guardians), with 17 seats in the Knesset, is Israel's third largest party and the second largest in the current government after Barak's Labor/One Israel. It is an ultra-orthodox religious party whose supporters are mainly poor and working class Jews whose families came to Israel from Middle Eastern countries (Mizrahim).
From a comparative perspective, the United States is unusual if not unique in the lack of restraints on freedom of expression. It is also unusual in the range and effectiveness of the methods employed to restrain freedom of thought. The two phenomena are related. Liberal democratic theorists have long noted that in a society where the voice of the people is heard, elite groups must insure that that voice says the right things. The less the state is able to employ violence in defense of the interests of elite groups that effectively dominate it, the more it becomes necessary to devise techniques of “manufacture of consent,” in the words of Walter Lippmann over 60 years ago.