|Israeli Druze casting a vote|
It's my experience that berating dedicated French-language militants over related language issues here in Quebec is about as rewarding and productive as beating a dead horse.
I've always been amazed at the hypocrisy of Quebecers, castigating Israel over defending itself from a hailstorm of missiles, while engaging Natives in hostilities over the most benign confrontation over a golf course. whatever....
So I'm going to try a different tack, using Israel (a villain to most true separatists) as an allegorical substitute and ask the above-mentioned group of French-language militants to offer linguistic advice to a country that surprisingly has many things in common with Quebec.
Now I'll stipulate right off the bat, that the comparison is imperfect, but nonetheless, let's have a whirl.
Let us start with population, Israel has a population of about eight million, just about the same as Quebec.
The majority, about 75% are Hebrew-speaking Jews, while in Quebec the majority 79% are French-speaking Christians.
Both countries have significant minorities, English in Quebec (13%) and Arab(20%) in Israel.
Now this discussion only describes Israel and not Gaza or the West Bank. The Arabs described are full citizens of Israel, enjoying the same legal definition of a citizen as their Jewish countrymen.
In 2009, 53% of Arab Israelis voted in the general election versus 57% of Quebecers who voted that same year in the provincial election, which is pretty similar.
No doubt the tension between Arabs and Jewish Israelis is much higher than relations between Anglos and Francos here, but it's important to remember that a recent Harvard study found that 77% of Arab Israelis would rather live in Israel than in any other country.
I'm not sure that if a similar study was conducted in Quebec about anglos, that the score would be much higher.
In Israel, the Arab minority live largely in voluntarily segregated neighborhoods and communities, a bit like the Anglo bastions in western Montreal, parts of the Pontiac and Townships, where they live their lives in Arabic, practicing their own culture, speaking their own language, distinctly apart from the mainstream society of Israel.
So my first question to French language militants reading this blog, (and they are legion) is whether this is reasonable. Shouldn't the Arabs be encouraged to embrace the mainstream culture and identity of the majority in order to create a cohesive society?
Perhaps a noted social commentator like Réjean Labrie could contribute a lesson plan for these Arabs on how best to integrate into Israeli society;
Should Arab Israelis;
- Embrace matzoh, chicken soup, shakshooka and cottage cheese for breakfast?
- Speak Hebrew in public?
- Give up their 'ethnic' garb and adopt western attire like the majority of Israelis?
- Participate in national day celebrations by having their own Arab artists sing in Hebrew.
- Celebrate national holidays like Yom Kipper and Passover.
- Watch Hebrew television and movies.
- Circumcise their male children.
- Vote for mainstream political parties rather than those that represent their own narrow Arab interests?
Is it reasonable for the Israeli government to declare Israel a one-culture, one-language country where Arab culture and Arabic is tolerated, but not encouraged?
Let us apply Bill 101 to Israel and see what the ramifications would be like.
After all, if French is in danger in North America, Hebrew, the national language of Israel must be equally as well, surrounded by a sea of Arabic. In fact Israel is the only place on Earth where Hebrew is actually spoken, so I can't think of any national language more threatened.
Would it be deemed a tad racist for an Israeli cabinet minister to proclaim that too many Arabs live in Jerusalem and that measures should be taken to increase the number of Jews who live there in order to preserve the Jewish 'character' of the city?
|Should Arab only billboards in Israel be disallowed as English ones are in Quebec?|
Would it be fair for extremist Hebrew language zealots and government inspectors to go around Arab shops and businesses hounding shopkeepers and businessmen for the slightest violation of language purity laws.
Would it be considered unreasonable that some Arab clerks are unable to serve the Hebrew majority in the language of Abraham?
Should all official communication between citizens and the government be conducted in Hebrew only?
Should Arabs be required by law to speak and understand Hebrew before graduation from Arab language universities?
Should companies that employ mostly Arabs be required to communicate with employees in Hebrew?
Should all professionals be subject to Hebrew language proficiency tests before being allowed to practice, even if they do so in an exclusively Arabic environment.
Should bus drivers refuse to give instructions in Arabic even while driving through exclusively Arab neighborhoods.
In fact should the bus company make it explicit policy that no employee be obligated to speak Arabic to clients, even if they can?
Should ambulance drivers serving Arabic villages refuse to communicate with patients in Arabic, even if they speak the language?
Is it fair to tell Arabs that if they don't like the Hebrew nature of Israel they should pack up and leave to Egypt or Jordan where their language and culture reigns?
Is it reasonable to call these measures necessary and reasonable because of the fragile nature of Hebrew?
I can just imagine French language militants bridling at the comparison, but remember, Israel is a country, not a province in an Arab speaking country.
Let us also remember that Israel is a creation of the United Nations, duly formed and constituted under the auspices of a free vote in the General assembly, more than Canada and Quebec can claim, both which basically stole the land from the natives.
I'm sure that everyone would find the above fictional behavior by Israel reprehensible and racist, to say the least.
By the way, little of what is described above is real, the truth being that Arabic is afforded much more freedom in Israel than English in Quebec.
If the measures above were somehow a reality, I'm sure the United Nations would be condemning Israel six ways from Sunday and Amir Khadir would be leading an anti-Israel demonstration in Montreal, supported ironically, by a wide range of pasta chasers over Israeli ethnic cleansing.
How is it that when we view our behavior in the context of somewhere else, it is a lot easier to recognize it for what it is.........Racism.....
Equality Party 2.0 membership drive.Tonight!
Try and make an effort to attend....