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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Medal Ceremony" An American doctor, and personal friend, serving in Iraq guest blogs at Adam's Zionst Journey

(This is the 11th dispatch from my friend Andy, an American doctor serving in Iraq with the Air Force Reserves)
Hello.

My time in Iraq has come within the 7 day mark and today I was surprised by a medal ceremony.

We went to a place called "Heroes Highway" which is the tunnel through which the medivac (helicopter) patients are brought through when they land outside the hospital enroute to the ER. Because the troops come in on their backs they lined the top of the tunnel with a huge American flag so it is the first thing they see before are wheeled into the emergency room. When I did medivac from Kirkuk I and passed through the tunnel I was always too intent on getting the patient to the ER to notice the symbolism of "hero's highway" which is where a huge portion of those killed and wounded here have traversed.

In any event I was called "urgently" to heroes highway for a "medical emergency' and found the command staff waiting for my arrival. I was somewhat confused when Col Lawrence (blonde woman in the pictures) said "Major Lobl, you have done a great job here and we want to acknowledge the tremendous work you have done for our troops." She presented me with the Iraqi Campaign Medal and the Air Force Expeditionary Service Medal. She then said that because of my "volunteer" forward deployment to Kirkuk and because my medivac (army helicopter) combat flights were unique and "above the call of duty" the 332 Medical Group (the med side of Joint Base Balad.) had submitted my name for the Air Force Achievement Medal which was approved by the "president" and was now at my home unit awaiting my return at a ceremony to be given at my home base.

Although I am under no illusion that I have done anything close to the troops who are here longer and spend more time outside the wire (defending me as I am generally helpless if attacked) it was quite an emotional experience standing under heroes highway surrounded by my friends and the brass and receiving the medal. I felt tremendous happiness that the ceremony occurring meant my time here was coming to a close so I can go back to my beloved Pittsburgh to see friends and family. I felt some sadness that I would never in my life unite with all these awesome people at the same time. I felt some trepidation about (as a reservist) going from an environment with unique bonding over a shared experience to a decidedly non-military community where my experience here would be extremely unique.

But most specifically I felt privileged to have been able to be given the opportunity to care for our soldiers and work with some of the most selfless team players I have met in my lifetime. It really is a thrill to serve our country.

But that being the case. I'm thrilled to come home


 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My essay published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: Anti-Semitic Cartoon on Progressive Blogs

Published September 2010

The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs 
 
No. 101, 1 September 2010 / 23 Elul 5770

  

Anti-Semitic Cartoons on Progressive Blogs

Adam Levick

  • Political cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than a lengthy essay. By far the largest output of anti-Semitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world. A yet uncharted field of hate cartoons against Jews is that in progressive blogs.
  • Anti-Semitic cartoons found - and seemingly tolerated - on progressive blogs such as Daily Kos, MyDD, Mondoweiss, and Indymedia are mainly expressions of anti-Israelism, a more recent category of anti-Semitism than the religious and ethnic-nationalist versions.
  • Traditionally the core motif of anti-Semitism is that Jews represent absolute evil. The cultural notion of what that means has changed over the centuries. Nowadays absolute evil is often expressed as Jews or Israelis being Nazis. Indeed, the cartoon motif most frequently appearing on the progressive blogs is imagery equating Israel with Nazi Germany. Others reflect Jewish conspiracies, Zionists controlling the world, the blood libel, or show Jews as animals.
  • Most of the progressive blogs discussed, containing such anti-Semitic imagery cited in this essay, generally fail to remove such hateful cartoons, despite blog policies expressly prohibiting posts that contain "hateful" or "inflammatory" content.
Cartoons have to express ideas in an easy-to-understand way. Therefore they are often accessible even to people who cannot read. Cartoons are also an efficient way to transmit hate and prejudices, including anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism in cartoons has been investigated, among others, by the Belgian political scientist Jöel Kotek in his book Cartoons and Extremism.[1] Political cartoons often have a more immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than a lengthy essay.

The largest output of anti-Semitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world. Outside it one also finds a significant number of anti-Semitic cartoons in many countries. In Europe, for instance, over the past decade such imagery has been particularly strong in countries such as Norway and Greece.[2]

A yet uncharted field of hate cartoons against Jews is that in progressive blogs. They are mainly expressions of anti-Israelism, a more recent category of anti-Semitism than the religious and ethnic-nationalist versions. Traditionally the core motif of anti-Semitism is that Jews represent absolute evil. The cultural notion of what that means has changed over the centuries. In current times absolute evil is often expressed as Jews or Israelis being Nazis. This charge is usually identified with the virulent anti-Semitic cartoons on right-wing extremist sites and in Arab media. This motif, however, is also the main one found in anti-Semitic cartoons on progressive blogs.

Also the three major submotifs of anti-Semitism are expressed in cartoons on progressive blogs. The first one is that Jews lust for power. In progressive blogs this is manifested mainly as caricatures on Jewish conspiracies and Zionists controlling the world. The second major anti-Semitic submotif is that Jews lust for blood, and progressive blogs include cartoons accusing Jews of infanticide. The third anti-Semitic submotif, namely, that Jews are inferior beings, is expressed on these blogs in cartoons showing Jews as animals.

The cartoonist most frequently appearing on the progressive blogs analyzed here is Carlos Latuff. He is an extreme left-wing political activist who won second place in the notorious Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Latuff is one of the more prolific anti-Semitic cartoonists on the web, with a staggering amount of work dedicated to advancing explicitly anti-Semitic political imagery.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Third Country Nationals" An American doctor, and personal friend, serving in Iraq guest blogs at Adam's Zionst Journey (Pt. 10)

(This is the 10th dispatch from my friend Andy, an American doctor serving in Iraq with the Air Force Reserves)

Hello!

A part of this war (actually a phenomenon throughout the A.O.R) is the tremendous work done by third country nationals. 

This is a term used for people who work on the base ( for the us military) but are not from either Iraq or the allied countries. They are usually from developing countries and are hired by the contractors (Haliburton, KBR, multiple Turkish companies) to come here and do jobs that keep the base running. The do Laundry, cook the food, work at all the shops and restaurants, cut hair, pump gas, clean everything from the hospitals to bathrooms, maintain the rooms, provide internal base security ,work at the gyms, swimming pools and movie theaters, base exchange, drive the buses around base, etc.

They are mainly from countries that speak some English like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines or have specific skills like the soldiers from Sierra Leone, Honduras, Columbia and Uganda.

In many ways these folks lives are much tougher then ours. They live in (for us) cramped conditions, work (SOMETIMES) longer hours and have significantly less amenities. There salaries are a fraction of ours although the countries from which they come have a significantly lower cost of living. The also typically stay here for years in order to make money for their families.

While here they are subject to the same risks as the rest of as as missiles lobbed at our base do not discriminate between a Nepali and an American.

They deal with being here because they are making much more money then they could at home and spend almost no money here.

There is a slight tension between the military and the contractors as they hypothetically could be a security risk. The thought is somebody could either offer them a lot of money or threaten their family back home (or a combination) in order to induce them to participate in an attack on the base. There are very strict rules about individual friendships between our troops and third county nationals.

Still, the combination of intercultural gatherings and ethnic food is too much for me to pass up so I organized a dinner with a group of air force medical folks (Americans), TCN employees (mainly south Asians) and TCN management (Turkish) at a large Turkish contracting firm.

Essentially a Pakistani guy named Jay who cleans our section of the hospital was telling me about the food in his camp. I asked him to meet the boss  (Turkish) who came over to meet me at which point I told them I would bring the desert if they would provide the food. They said it would be an "honor" so I gathered 10 of my friends and we went to dinner.

The food was absolutely awesome!

Turkish salad and fish, Indian chicken,lamb rice and bread, and soft drinks. I brought an American desert--cinnabons!

We had an absolutely wonderful time!!!

The funny thing (if you can say "funny") is that as the US army has largely returned to the bases the folks who lob up the rockets have more room to maneuver. So we sat outside eating and talking while my radio periodically crackled about attacks on different parts of the base..but nobody seemed the slightest bit concerned. So our group of Hindus, Muslims, Jews (at least one) and Christians would not be deterred from our dinner together by remnants of Al Qaeda (or whomever was behind firing the rockets.)..so score one victory for intercultural (including Muslim)brotherhood over Islamic extremism!

It was nice to eat food outside our dining hall and learn about these folks who serve alongside us here in Iraq!

I gave my obligatory Pitt shirts to our hosts as we departed! 



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