Thursday, 22 August 2013

Zeeva Daveed

Fascinating article by Joel Schalit on the role of a fantasized Israeli identity for certain American right-wingers. Schalit talks about the importance of online commenters who claim to be Israelis bringing the truths of Israel’s unstable situation to an ignorant US left audience, who on examination turn out in fact not to be Israelis or indeed Jews, but traditional American Christian Zionists. A fantasy about Israel as a hard-headed reality serves a particular function in explaining American foreign policy.

Maybe the most sophisticated instance of this is the character of Ziva David on NCIS. Ziva, a former Mossad agent turned NCIS investigator, is an interesting character. She’s able, elegant, and humorous, as well as being somewhat psychologically damaged in the sort of way that makes for appealing TV characters.

But she also functions as an odd metonym for Israel. Her Mossad background is, mainly in her early appearances, brought up through references to her abilities as a murderer and torturer, that is, through her extra-legal callousness. The show is both shocked by and charmed with this ruthlessness – Ziva is frequently reminded by other characters that her methods are not satisfactory in America, with a blend of pride, awe, and regret. Ziva, and thus Israel, is presented here as sublime in Burke’s sense, as inspiring a kind of fear that leads to respect.

Israel, in the person of Ziva, functions as a kind of screen onto which Americans can plan the terrible things America actually does abroad, but which it is ideologically committed to claiming not to do. I wonder if the consent of the assassination of bin Laden is an evident sign that US ideology has changed such that this disavowal is no longer necessary.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The sub­limity of Ziva David

Interesting article by Joel Schalit on the role of a fantasized Israeli identity for certain American right-wingers (which I heard about on Doug Henwood’s Behind the News). Schalit discusses the prominence of online commenters who claim to be Israelis bringing the realities of Israel’s precarious situation to an ignorant US left audience, who on investigation turn out in fact not to be Israelis or indeed Jews, but conservative American Christian Zionists. A fantasy about Israel as a hard-headed reality serves a particular function in justifying American foreign policy.

Maybe the most high-profile example of this is the character of Ziva David on NCIS. Ziva, a former Mossad agent turned NCIS investigator, is an appealing character. She’s competent, smart, and funny, as well as being somewhat psychologically  damaged in the sort of way that makes for endearing TV characters (it also doesn’t hurt that the character is played by Cote de Pablo, who is very pretty although not even slightly Israeli).

But she also functions as a strange metonym for Israel. Her Mossad background is, particularly in her early appearances, brought up through references to her skills as an assassin and torturer, that is, through her extra-legal ruthlessness. The show is both horrified by and enamored with this ruthlessness – Ziva is continually reminded by other characters that her methods are not acceptable in America, with a mixture of pride, awe, and regret. Ziva, and thus Israel, is presented here as sublime in Burke’s sense, as inspiring a kind of fear that leads to admiration. The racist uses to which Burke puts this concept of the sublime (the natural sublimity of Blacks is adduced as a justification for slavery) perhaps points towards the racism underlying Israel’s simultaneous exclusion from and inclusion in Western “civilization” which Schalit notes in right-wing American attachments to Israel.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Ziva David

Ziva David (/ˈziːvə dəˈviːd/; Hebrew: זיוה דויד, pronounced , Ziva: "Brilliance", David: "Beloved"; born November 12, 1982 in Be'er Sheva, Israel) is a fictional character from the NCIS television series by CBS Television, portrayed by Chilean actress Coté de Pablo.

David was introduced in the Season 3 premiere episode "Kill Ari (Part 1)" and became a regular cast member from the episode "Silver War". David replaced Caitlin Todd, who was killed at the hands of Ziva's half-brother, Ari Haswari, in the Season 2 finale.

Ziva was an agent of the Israeli Mossad, originally assigned to NCIS as a liaison officer, a position she held for four years until she returned to Mossad in the Season 6 finale, "Aliyah". After being captured by terrorists in Somalia and presumed dead, she was eventually saved by Gibbs, Tony and McGee who brought her back to America to a reunion with Ducky and Abby.

Having recovered, Ziva later resigned from Mossad in Season 7 and became a probationary NCIS agent.
Upon passing her citizenship exam, Ziva was sworn in as a U.S. citizen with McGee, Ducky, Abby and Palmer being present at her ceremony.

In the Season 9 premiere episode "Nature of the Beast", after being a Probie for nearly two or three years, Ziva finally earned her status as an NCIS Special Agent.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Taxonomy

Grebes are small to medium-large water birds with lobed, rather than webbed, toes. There are several genera, of which the most widespread is Podiceps with nine species, one recently extinct. The Red-necked Grebe's closest relative is the fish-eating Great Crested Grebe of Europe and western Asia. It is possible that the Red-necked Grebe originally evolved in North America and later spread to Europe, where a change of diet to include more insects helped to reduce competition with its larger cousin. Fossils of the species dating to the middle Pleistocene have been found in Italy.

The genus name Podiceps comes from Latin podicis, "vent" or "anus", and pes, "foot", and is a reference to the placement of a grebe's legs towards the rear of its body. The species name grisegena is from Latin griseus (grey) and gena (cheek) and refers to the face pattern of the breeding adult.

The Red-necked Grebe has two subspecies, the nominate subspecies P. g. grisegena in Europe and western Asia, and P. g. holboelii (Holboell's Grebe, named for Danish explorer of Greenlandic birds Carl Peter Holbøll) in North America and eastern Siberia. The east Asian birds have slightly smaller bills than the American form, although the differences are too small to merit separation as a third subspecies.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Red-necked Grebe

The Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) is a migratory aquatic bird found in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Its wintering habitat is largely restricted to calm waters just beyond the waves around ocean coasts, although some birds may winter on large lakes. Grebes prefer shallow bodies of fresh water such as lakes, marshes or fish-ponds as breeding sites.

The Red-necked Grebe is a nondescript dusky-grey bird in winter. During the breeding season, it acquires the distinctive red neck plumage, black cap and contrasting pale grey face from which its name was derived. It also has an elaborate courtship display and a variety of loud mating calls. Once paired, it builds a nest from water plants on top of floating vegetation in a shallow lake or bog.

Like all grebes, the Red-necked is a good swimmer, a particularly swift diver, and responds to danger by diving rather than flying. The feet are positioned far back on the body, near the tail, which makes the bird ungainly on land. It dives for fish or picks insects off vegetation; it also swallows its own feathers, possibly to protect the digestive system. The conservation status of its two subspecies—P. g. grisegena found in Europe and western Asia, and the larger P. g. holboelii in North America and eastern Siberia—is evaluated as Least Concern, and the global population is stable or growing.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Horned Grebe

The Horned Grebe is a small grebe at 31–38 centimetres (12–15 in) long with a 46–55 centimetres (18–22 in) wingspan. Unmistakable in summer, the plumage of both male and female includes a black head with brown puffy earlike tufts along the sides of its face. It shows a deep red neck, scarlet eyes, and a small, straight black bill tipped with white. It rides high in the water.