I say this at the risk of overreacting and seeming unhinged, or of being accused that just because now circumstances have “come to me,” that I am recognizing what so many others in the world have lived with for years and decades. I say it at the risk of being charged with tarring with an Islamophobic brush. So let me be clear.
First, in Canada we do not expect our quiet interrupted by deadly hostility. It’s arguable that, the murder in Quebec a couple days ago notwithstanding, we are more than a decades since the last major instance of political terrorism and murder in Canada (FLQ). We are and have been complaisant about it with only a brief introspective interruption in mid-September 2001. So, the grizzly footage from Parliament hill today where an honor guard soldier was shot (and as of this writing remains alive) and an armed intruder in the Parliament building was gunned down has the shocking effect of an ice bucket challenge. It may even jar us, particularly in the nation’s capital, out of innocence.
Second, there is no proof yet that this has anything to do with Islamic State or jihad or even a connection to the jihad-inspired killing in Quebec the other day. It is the easy conclusion to draw within the global context of our national announcement that we will actively support our allies in the military action against Islamic State (ISIL, etc.). It’s likely, but that is pure speculation at this point because it’s also likely that this is the work of one or two deranged fools.
Third, the reference to Israel is NOT meant to conjure up Arab-centric hostilities toward that nation–though I recognize it does. What it’s meant to address and the real point is that the people of Israel live day-to-day everyday with the very real threat of terrorism and attack that makes a gunman or two in downtown Ottawa look like a picnic. They get on with life. But, and this is the important but, Israelis are not innocent. They are wary. They are prepared. They know that their conditions are dangerous–maybe as dangerous as living in Beirut or Miami or Detroit. They are aware and take precautions. Any innocent easiness that danger is “over there,” has never been a luxury in any part of the Middle East. Lebanese, Syrian, Israeli, Egyptian,… It’s been decades since the IRA made Belfast a similar situation. And let’s not begin to forget genocidal dangers in Eastern Europe and Central/the Horn of Africa…
It may be a luxury we have to consider tarnished here as well, particularly if it turns out that the perpetrators are not those with a local agenda as had the FLQ or Marc Lepine or the bumbling 18 in Toronto several years ago.