If news, commentary and punditry were midwives, we could expect the newborn year which they bring to our homes this week to be a bleak child indeed.
I write these words four days before the calendar changes.
The brutal slaying of Benazir Bhutto and some two dozen of her supporters has just been announced. No one has claimed “credit” for the slaughter, but speculation has fallen on the usual suspects, of which there are no shortages – al-Qaeda and a cadre of extremists in the military, to name but two – all of whom share this one bone-chilling trait: they are utterly indifferent to and contemptuous of the sanctity of human life, any human life and all human life, even that of their co-religionists. Wanton killing is both ends and means to them.
Human life is subordinate to ideology. It is a relationship between cause and effect that is the exact obverse of that which underpins our values and our society. We believe human life is served by ideology.
We must shudder at and take direct, hard notice of the Bhutto assassination. We undermine our own country and our own values if we merely shrug at the killings. In every real and immediate sense, the killers are our enemies.
The instability that the Bhutto’s assassination will bring to Pakistan was probably intended to affect Afghanistan as well to boost the fortunes of the Taliban and their confederates against the forces of the unbelievers. Canadian troops and their NATO allies are now at greater risk.
It is no exaggeration to say that our soldiers are defending us even as they defend ordinary Afghanis trying to cement for them the conditions for safe, stable, secure day-to-day living.
Bhutto’s killers are fellow-travellers with the Islamist extremists who daily plot the demise of the Jewish state. They share the same obsession with and loyalty to an ideology that crowns death and disparages life.
For them, alas, the dream of dismantling Israel has always trumped the dream of building Palestine.
Had the drive to sow and to build overtaken the drive to harm and to destroy, the ideologues might have somehow cast aside their hatred and found a way, these past 60 years, for the sake of their own people, to reconcile with the idea of a sovereign Jewish state.
Co-existence would have surely led to prosperity. But prosperity has been only a fleeting chimera for the Palestinian people. Penury and poverty have been their primary way of life.
In the heady, but short-lived, post-Oslo days, there was a sense that prosperity was within their grasp. Business, commerce, agriculture and tourism expanded and joint ventures among Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians were common place.
But it ended abruptly, a casualty too, of the terror that Yasser Arafat set loose upon the Jews and ultimately, upon his own people.
The Arabs of Israel, perhaps more than any other community in the Middle East, understand the horrible price their co-religionists in the West Bank and Gaza have paid for the duplicity of Palestinian leaders and for the opportunities those leaders have perpetually scorned in favour of the bloodlusting dream of destroying the “occupying Zionist entity.”
To be sure, Arab citizens of Israel face many unique challenges of identity and discrimination. But there is also no denying that they also benefit from the democracy that is Israeli society and the economy that spins from it.
According to a poll conducted in the first week of December of some 514 Israeli Arabs over the age of 18 by Keevoon Research, Strategy & Communications, a Jerusalem-based public affairs company, “the overwhelmingly majority of Israeli Arabs would prefer to remain Israeli citizens rather than become citizens of a future Palestinian state.”
Sixty-two per cent of Israeli Arabs said they would remain Israeli citizens rather than join a future Palestinian State. Only 14 per cent of the respondents said they would choose to join a future Palestinian state; 24 per cent did not express an opinion or refused to answer.
The strongest support for retaining Israeli citizenship was expressed by members of the Druse community, 84 per cent of whom said they would choose Israel.
According to the results, lower income households also showed strong support for holding on to Israeli citizenship with 71 per cent choosing to do so.
Men were more likely than women to choose to remain Israeli citizens (67 per cent vs. 56 per cent). Not surprisingly, the strongest support for becoming citizens of a future Palestinian state was among the students with 21per cent preferring the Palestinian card of citizenship.
The margin of error in the poll results was 4.5 per cent.
More information on the poll results, can be obtained by emailing the organization at: [email protected]
These results are not surprising to anyone familiar with the truth of the way in which the Palestinian people have been led since the Jews embarked upon their own nation-building enterprise trying to live peacefully and to common benefit alongside their Arab neighbours.