A SOLDIER'S STORY
I am writing on behalf of myself, as well as my fellow Iraq Veterans Against the War. Last week, there was an article in your paper I would like to comment on ["Poli Psy," October 10].
My name is Jon Turner. I recently exited the main gates of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for the last time in August. I have been on three deployments - two of which were in Iraq - where I served as an infantryman. As an infantryman, I was responsible for kicking in doors of innocent Iraqi families' homes, and occupying their homes in the early hours of the morning and late hours of the night. During my tours in Iraq, I witnessed and was part of disrespectful acts towards innocent civilians and detainees. Yes, at the time, we laughed. But due to what I experienced and witnessed, I now have post-traumatic stress. I'm sorry, but I do not consider this a disorder.
Due to actions that I willfully performed, it is my fault that I have flashbacks. My flashbacks include numerous mortar rounds, snaps of machine gun fire coming past my head and other large explosions and loud noises. Let's not forget the dead bodies - some of which I created - and our fellow brothers and sisters who have died.
I volunteered for the Marine Corps infantry because I thought I was going to fight a "proper" fight. Reality has shown that is not what is happening. I did not sign up to see innocent people get hurt and die. I did not sign up to identify my dead friend, Richard Zachary James, after a foreign sniper shot him in the top of his forehead. Yes, I signed the contract, but myself, as well as many other war vets, also figured we would get help for the physical and psychological problems that are a direct result of going to war - regardless if the war we are fighting is justified or not.
You say, "Support the troops as humans, but do not support the troops or what goes on in war." Those who have been to war, especially those who have walked the streets, been shot at and blown up, will tell you that your mind goes to a different place in war. If you want to support the troops, help them when they get home, and listen to them when they speak. Thank you for listening.
Turner is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
PEOPLE VS. THE STATE
Avram Pratt's eloquent letter ["Sounding Off," October 10] is marred by a misreading of my views. I have never equated "Israel the State" with "Israel the people." Indeed, my book, Judaism Inside Out, makes clear my understanding of the distinction. In my recent correspondence with fellow clergy about the Art Hop, I wrote that what was being expressed at the Art Hop was "not about Israeli policies. This is about hatred for Israel the State, which bleeds directly into hatred for Israel the people."
I also wrote: "I readily accept that not every criticism of the policies of the State of Israel is anti-Semitism. But attempts to de-legitimate (sic) the existence of a Jewish State within living memory of the Holocaust send shivers down the spine of many of us Jews who know that . . . we still live in the lifeboat that the State of Israel provided for the Jewish people in 1948. Clearly, with pronouncements such as those of the President of Iran, and the anti-Semitism in the textbooks and media of many Arab countries, the waters about us still are not safe."
Of course, not all criticism of Israeli policies extends into hatred for Israel the people. But some criticism does. And when it does, many of us - Jews and non-Jews - will continue to say so.
Rabbi Joshua Chasan
Chasan is the rabbi for the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington.
I write to bring to your attention my reaction to the latest American Apparel ad in your October 3 issue. I've objected to other ads for this store that I felt crossed the line of sexually objectifying very young girls, but this one demands I write you.
I conducted a "survey" of several people in which I covered the girl model's body so only her face was showing. "How old do you think this person is?" I asked. One person said 4 or 5 years old. Others said 12 to 14 years old. All said the model looked younger than 16 years of age. When I showed them the whole ad, they were surprised. In some cases, shocked and disgusted.
This image of a person of a questionable young age in her underwear displaying a wide open crotch shot on a bed is just irresponsible advertising in a time when child pornography is epidemic! We're all aware (or should be) of the damage that kiddie porn causes. For two businesses that hold themselves up as conscious, aware and politically hip to run this ad shows a greater interest in profit than in being responsible.
I was influenced by the feminist movements of the 1960s and '70s. It empowered women to be all they can be, beyond the sexual objectification of mainstream culture and the influence of the fashion industry. It is frustrating to now see the sexual exploitation of children in mainstream advertising. Please pay attention to what you are doing!
Hurrah for Judith Levine clarifying the need to oppose militarism if one wants change in the USA ["Poli Psy," October 10]. A peace movement starting every rally with "I support the troops" and a peace and justice center selling yellow ribbon magnets (yes, I know it says bring them home) are part of the ingrained worship of militarism.
The antiwar movement and Democrats are reacting to a lie made up 35 years ago by the rabid Right and the Pentagon, a lie about the dissing of Vietnam vets. How pathetic!
When are these folks going to learn how to frame the debate? The military takes most of our resources, yet every year we are less safe, more fearful and losing the rights outlined in our Bill of Rights. This reality gives the lie to the propaganda that they keep us free and protected. Their main skills are creating killers and turning every scientific advance into a weapon. Flo Kennedy called it Pentagonorrhea!
Since World War II, the country has been in thrall to the military-industrial energy complex. These folks don't account for trillions, and now outsource killing to even less accountable mercenaries. We are all under surveillance. Maybe that's why people pay obeisance to the military. Look what happened when MoveOn dared to call out General Petraeus.
I support the human beings caught up in this mess, especially the women being assaulted by their comrades, and veterans with inadequate medical care. But an antiwar movement needs first and foremost to point out the devastation wreaked by slavish devotion to men with guns.
Luhrs is a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
NO PEACE IN SIGHT
David Gutmann recollects few dealings with the Arabs as he directed combat operations for the Palmach in 1948 ["The Wall Has Two Sides," October 10]. "Why did they leave? I don't know," he says. I don't hold him responsible for not knowing then why Muslim and Christian Palestinians left their villages. Zionists like him were being fed the line, "A land without a people for a people without a land."
Over the years, however, it has been clearly documented that the leaders of the various Jewish guerrilla groups engaged in a systematic campaign of terror and intimidation meant to expel Palestinians from their villages, and to expand Jewish land holdings in the run-up to the announcement of the United Nations (UN) partition plan. The intention of these paramilitary groups was to cleanse the new Israeli state of non-Jews and to expand control over valuable water and other resources. It is a myth that Palestinians simply "left" their homes, as Wafiq Faour's experience demonstrates.
The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan, elucidates this whole period beautifully through the interwoven lives of two real people - one Arab, and one Jewish - who reside in the same home and struggle together to reconcile their tragic histories.
Until the issue of the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands is acknowledged by all parties, and justice for these victims is achieved as outlined in UN resolution 194, there will be no peace in the region.
Bordonaro is a member of Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel.
Change the name on the front door? Not yet ["Would Fletcher Allen by Another Name Remain the Same?" October 10]. A couple of weeks back, I called their office about billing and got a brush-off. "Write to CEO [Melinda] Estes if you don't like it," I was told.
I have no medical training, so my vocabulary is about zero in that respect. Trying to understand their statement is a major task, but with Medicare and supplemental insurance involved, it needs to be looked at very carefully before paying any balance due. The major problem is their statement lists a supplemental insurance that I have not had in years. So how do I know if my current carrier has been billed? A couple of years ago, I called for the same reason and got the same dumb-ass response: "Not currently working on it, and probably won't."
So change the name on our statement from Prudential to American Association of Retired Persons/United Health Care. Is that so difficult? They just can't seem to keep any records for their patient/customers, or the operating auditors.
* In a recent story, Seven Days misidentified the sculptor of "Sense of Wonder" ["Garden of Stone," October 3]. The sculptor is Allison Warren of Illinois.
* Mark Montalban is a coordinator at the Lake Champlain Men's Resource Center. His title was incorrect in a recent story ["Vermont Psychological Association Under Fire for 'Misogynist' Speaker," October 10].
* In a story that ran last week ["Smoking Ban Irritates Puffers," October 17], Seven Days incorrectly identified the name of the Holy Cross Senior Housing facility.