Gaza Resurrected

Now, I can hear the bombings, shelling and air strikes every where in Gaza. Where is the situation is going?

—Dr. Mustafa El Hawi, Gaza City, August 19, 2014

Recently at a large gathering of New England Quakers, to a small group, a woman outlined her visionary response to the recurring violence in Gaza and Israel. Essentially: a group of Israeli Jews, spontaneously, recognize the desperate needs of their Gazan neighbors—and their government’s role in causing those needs. Addressing only the merciful side of the problem, not yet the justice side, they gather building materials, food, water, medicines, and other needed supplies and personnel intending to bring it to Gaza personally, an aid mission, not blessed by their government, nor by the majority of their fellow Israelis who overwhelming support the assault on Gaza.

Of course their government will not allow this citizen group to enter the Gaza Strip so they bring ladders, crowbars, sledgehammers, and a large number of determined people to the wall which imprisons their neighbors. They storm the wall and enter Gaza. This act of chutzpah gains much favorable international publicity, a new form of news from Israel and Gaza. Others from around the world spontaneously organize their own aid missions and successfully land on Gaza’s beaches, push back Egyptian security at the southern border, flood thru the breach in the Israeli wall, and reconstruct the Strip.

The wall between Gaza and Israel from Netiv Ha'asara

Gaza wall, click image for an enlargement

Far fetched? Speculative? A fantasy? Another good idea but is it possible? One small hint of reality occurred several weeks ago when Gershon Baskin, a Jewish Israeli-American activist, discovered a huge amount of potatoes in Israel that for various reasons might need to be abandoned. He organized a crowd-sourced fundraising appeal and hopes to generate some $730,000 to purchase and transport the potatoes to Gaza.


According to the Jerusalem Post he launched “an online Indiegogo campaign aiming to raise the $730,000 necessary to purchase a 5,000-ton surplus of potatoes from the Israel Vegetable Growers Association. Due to union bylaws guaranteeing farmers a fair price for their labor, the association cannot simply donate the potatoes.” And Europe recently experienced a surfeit of potatoes so it is not a market. As of today, he’s raised a little more than one tenth his goal, $78,000, enough to buy and ship some of the surplus potatoes.


 Gershon Baskin

(UPDATE:  After asking the Israeli vegetable growers association to donate some of the potato surplus to Gaza they responded positively and agreed to reduce the price we will pay by 20%!!! That is a sizable amount of money and will enable us to increase the amount of potatoes we will send to Gaza’s neediest people! Spread the word!—Gershon Baskin)

Another precedent is post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans when groups such as the Common Ground Collective and later during Hurricane Isaac elements of the Occupy movement rallied to help reconstruct the city and fight for a fair disposition of resources, an exemplary combination of mercy and justice. Detroit’s problems might be at least partially alleviated by a similar grass-roots movement from outside the city, which is already occurring on a small-scale. The Detroit Water Project locates donors from outside the city to help pay Detroiters’ water bills. As of July 27 it has found 4,000 donors. Inside the city, organizations like the Boggs Center organize residents and visitors in social justice movements.

What a mind shift this could create in the international community. anti-Semitism is rising in Europe, the United States may follow. If such a vision were to be implemented, organized initially by Israeli Jews, the nation of Israel could be viewed differently: from criminal state, becoming a pariah, more and more hated internationally, to a benefactor, a rescuer. As many people rescuing Jews did during the holocaust.

I now extrapolate from the initial vision. Phase two would occur when others, more strategically oriented, realize this is only a partial solution. What prevents Israel from attacking again and maintaining the killing siege, or Gazan militants from firing missiles into Israeli civilian districts and building tunnels into Israel to attack the army and possibly civilians as well? This second phase could either organize appeals to the international court system and finally, finally, the case of Israel and Palestine comes to the International Court of Justice, while other elements of the case go to the International Criminal Court. Or, as in South Africa, organize a truth and reconciliation process, inviting elements from all parties to acknowledge suffering and admit complicity.



In a Gaza hospital, photo by Skip Schiel


Untreated sewage into the Mediterranean Sea, photo by Skip Schiel


Generators to supply electricity when municipal services fail

Once this second adjudication phase has begun, the third phase would be enacted: reparations from the responsible parties. After another Israeli operation, Defensive Shield, ravaged much of the West Bank in 2002, international donors like USAID paid for the repair and reconstruction. Why not the afflicting parties? Why not Israel itself, required to pay for the damage it brought? And perhaps a similar reparation program to compensate those injured, killed, and otherwise destroyed by criminal acts of Palestinian parties? Justice served, finally. Is it possible? A vision for a program?

(Thanks to Liberty G for the initial vision.)

I have a crazy fantasy.

Peace will come and filmmakers will produce movies about this war, too.

One scene: Israeli soldiers discover a tunnel and enter it in order to clear it of enemies. At the same time, Hamas fighters enter the tunnel at the other end, on their way to attack a kibbutz.

The fighters meet in the middle, beneath the fence. They see each other in the dim light. And then, instead of shooting, they shake hands.

A mad idea? Indeed. Sorry.

—Uri Avnery




It was a great feeling to arrive on that boat [one of the first freedom boats sailing to Gaza in 2008], a feeling of freedom that I had never experienced. It was the first time in my life that I had visited home without the humiliation of being questioned or interrogated by the Israelis, without being threatened, having my travel documents thrown in my face, and not knowing whether I would be able to get out or not. It is a sense of liberation I hope every Palestinian will experience one day. I am proud of being one of the first Palestinians from the Occupied Territories to enter Palestine without Israeli permission since 1967.

Musheir El-Farra, the only Palestinian from Gaza sailing on August 21, 2008


“Meeting in a Tunnel,” by Uri Avnery

Norway and Egypt to host donor conference for Gaza

“Anti-Semitism flares in Europe amid Gaza war,” by Janelle Dumalaon, Jennifer Collins and Angela Waters,

Repression against grassroots hurricane relief lingers in New Orleans,” by Jake Olzen, November 9, 2012

Detroit Water Project

Detroit Allows Outsiders to Pay Past Due Water Bills,” by Douglas A. McIntyre, July 27, 2014

$200K expected to fill Detroit water bill fund,” by Darren A. Nichols, August 18, 2014

“Son of Death,” by Uri Avnery


Gaza and the West Bank of Palestine and Israel

Brit Quakers 3

2014-08-04BathYMGBigTop-The Big Top at Yearly Meeting Gathering in Bath. | Photo- Photo- Trish Carn.

Epilogue, Monday 4th August Photo- Fran Lane


The scarf lining the route between Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston and Burghfield | Photo: Photo: Luke Massey.

“Several hundred protesters [from Britain Yearly Meeting] were on hand Saturday, 9 August 2014, for the unfurling of an enormous pink scarf along the seven miles of road between the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield. The protest was intended to show the scale of opposition to Trident replacement in the UK.”

Quaker queries

A letter to my Quaker monthly meeting (and beyond), Friends Meeting at Cambridge, dear Friends,

At this summer’s New England Yearly Meeting sessions with its theme of witness, during the height of violence in Gaza and Israel, numerous Friends expressed deep concern to me personally (who many of you know has been directly connected with that region thru the American Friends Service Committee and other agencies), and in plenaries and interest groups. Yet—a huge yet—not a word that I heard from business meetings. No minutes of concern, no suggested responses, no debate, not even discussion. One possible reason for this silence is the fear of taking sides, or offending people, or diverting attention from proper business, or stepping outside the mandate of “spirituality,” or fostering division. And in our own monthly meeting, Cambridge, speaking out often counters similar resistance.

Martin Luther King Jr stated that silence is betrayal, or, alternately, silence is complicity.

British Friends during their yearly meeting, 2000 people strong, raised its voice. are they not a model for us?

Here’s how they began their bold statement:

Amid faltering ceasefires and talks, Quakers in Britain are calling for urgent action on Gaza. They urge the UK Government to recognise Palestine as a nation state; they call for a comprehensive arms embargo on all sides in the conflict and for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza and occupation of Palestine.

The calls for action come in a statement made by the decision making body of Quakers in Britain, the Yearly Meeting, attended by 2,000 Quakers in Bath.  As part of their commitment to peacemaking, Quakers continue to challenge anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

  • The Yearly Meeting heard essential steps towards full and fair negotiations:
  • Palestine to be recognised as a nation state
  • An end to indiscriminate fire by all sides
  • A comprehensive arms embargo
  • An end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and blockade of Gaza
  • Freeing elected Palestinian leaders now held as political prisoners
  • The use of international law to hold all parties to account for their actions….

For the full statement.

And for general information from a reliable Quaker source: Quaker Palestine Israel Network, and Quakers with a Concern for Palestine and Israel.

And from the American Friends Service Committee.

FMC hs

Friends Meeting at Cambridge meeting house



Meeting for worship outside Textron Industries, manufacturer of war munitions like cluster bombs, held monthly for nearly 6 years by Friends Meeting at Cambridge

British Quakers [in 2012] call for end to use of force in Gaza

Hague court under western pressure not to open Gaza war crimes inquiry” by Julian Borger

Israel bars Amnesty, Human Rights Watch workers from Gaza” by Amira Hass

One Result of the Gaza Conflict: Iran and Hamas Are Back Together” by Kay Armin Serjoie

The conclusion of my attempt to explicate what I attempt to do photographically.


I began when my father gave me a camera, probably a cheap Kodak Brownie, at the age of 7.


Caldwell School playground, Chicago’s Southside, 1950 c.,
photo by Skip Schiel

I lost a good Kodak foldout camera at a train station in Michigan while waiting to return from Boy Scout camp when about 12 years old.

Kodak folding camera


Pearl Schiel, 1954, my mother, photo by Skip Schiel

When I was in high school my father brought out his old high school chemistry notes and perhaps accidentally turned to the section on photographic chemistry. I was immediately entranced and about 5 years later while in college I built my first darkroom in the basement kitchen of the rooming house I shared with other men in Seattle, Washington. They were not happy with the odors.

I hitchhiked around the Midwest during college breaks in the early 1960s to make slide shows and show them to family and neighbors, most of whom fell asleep.

Skip flashed early1960

Self portrait by Skip Schiel, 1960

Iowa Farm

Iowa Farm, 1962, photo by Skip Schiel

Great plains

The Great Plains, 1982 c, believed by many to be too boring to photograph, photo by Skip Schiel

Partly because of the rotten reception to my slide shows I tried to burn most of my early slides in our basement fireplace, my mother stopped me. I have no idea where those slides are now and do not care.

At some point early in my life I learned that my grandfather Ben Schiel had long ago opened a photographic portrait studio in Dubuque, Iowa. It probably quickly failed as did most of his other enterprises.

Ben 1910 Palace Studio

Ben Schiel in front of his Palace Photographic Studio, Dubuque, Iowa, 1910

I am reassured that I might be on a good path by the fact that the Schiel family consists of at least four generations of photographers—my grandfather Ben, my father Frank (a dedicated but talentless amateur), me, and my daughter Joey, full of talent. Who knows, perhaps the illustrious Austrian artist, Egon Schiele, is part of my family lineage. And what will become of my grandchildren, Rex, Cid, and Eleanor?


End suffering and foster enlightenment, traditional Buddhist values.

Do this with my camera, thru participation in struggles for environmental integrity and justice—Charles River, Boston Harbor, and Quabbin Reservoir in 1980s; American Indians begun in 1982; Bread and Puppet Theater, begun in the early 1980s and sporadically continuing; South Africa in 1990 and 1998; working with the Struggles Against Racism photographers’ collective in 1990s; Auschwitz to Hiroshima pilgrimage in 1995; Middle Passage Pilgrimage in 1998; and my 3 current projects, Israel-Palestine beginning in 2003, Detroit which began in 2010, and my new Twilight series, a departure from my politically based work: I explore light, that narrow slice of the 24 hour diurnal cycle known otherwise as the Magic Hour.


I call myself a participatory, socially engaged photographer which means I participate in actions striving for justice and then photographically observe and interpret the actions about human rights. I also show conditions which lead to these actions and provide context.


Skip Schiel in the Dheisheh refugee camp, Bethlehem, 2003, photo by Mark Daoud

I take some risks: I am willing to suffer for the truth. As W. Eugene Smith declared, “I have tried to let truth be my prejudice.”


Demonstration outside Ofer prison for prisoners’ rights, West Bank, Palestine, 2012

If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

—Robert Capa

My Israel-Palestine photo series is at times controversial. As when a few people at my Quaker meeting walked out of my first slide show, Facts on the Ground, but we’ve reconciled—or are reconciling.

An upcoming lecture of [Schiel's at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education] is entitled: The Hydropolitics of Israel and Palestine. What photography course would be complete without a little “evil Israelis are dehydrating the innocent Palestinians”-style propaganda? The lecture is overpriced at $2.

…Schiel has many fine photos as well as a gallery. You must understand what a sad joke this is. Foreigners visit, put themselves under the command of local Arab leaders and involve themselves in provoking and providing cover for those who provoke the Israeli soldiers — soldiers who are far more disciplined than to treat them as they probably deserve. 

solomonia.com, 2007

During my last slide show at Friends Meeting at Cambridge in 2012, Eyewitness Gaza, the pro-Israel organization, Stand with Us, and Kerry Hurwitz picketed outside and later tracked me to Chicago. Writing a letter about me to local Jewish leaders, they may have blocked a high school visit organized by the American Friends Service Committee in 2011. On that same tour, showing at a mosque, someone misread my slide show and angrily shut me down—he thought I was pro-Israel.

In 2011, Tom Jackson, with significant help from Adham Khalil in Gaza, made a film about Gaza and me, Eyewitness Gaza, how I work there and why. I feel it accurately portrays my work in that region and of that style, politically informed and intended. Later with much help from Maria Termini, I published a book of my photos with the same title, Eyewitness Gaza.

Eyewitness Gaza (the movie)

A three minute preview

A ten minute preview of Eyewitness Gaza (made early in the editing process)

The full movie, fifty minutes long

An interview with me by Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine

Eyewitness Gaza (the book)

Aside from the message or content, this is my method: experiment; draw from traditions represented by W. Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, Sabastio Selgado, Magnum photographers, and many others in my lineage; intend to surprise, entertain, and teach. Bathe the audience in beauty, a beauty that treads the thin line between horror and beauty. As Dostoevsky stated in The Idiot—Beauty will save the world.

… it has been publicly [implied] that I am anti-Semitic because of a cartoon I created expressing sad dismay at the plight and suffering of the Palestinians in the recent bombardment of Gaza [November 2012].

As a cartoonist I am not interested in defending the dominant, the powerful, the well-resourced and the well-armed because such groups are usually not in need of advocacy, moral support or sympathetic understanding; they have already organised sufficient publicity for themselves and prosecute their points of view with great efficiency.

The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society. And the cartoonist’s task is not so much to be balanced as to give balance, particularly in situations of disproportionate power relationships such as we see in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a healthy tradition dating back to the court jester and beyond: to be the dissenting protesting voice that speaks when others cannot or will not.

—Michael Leunig, “Just a cartoonist with a moral duty to speak”.


You might find it an interesting exercise to talk about your process as a photographer. Who are you as a person? What draws you to make an image? Who are your influences? One of the points of exhibiting work on the walls of the Friends Center (in Cambridge MA) is to get to know one another better. So we would like you to step back just a bit from photographs as message only. Think of it as a unique opportunity to become known in a way that would not be appropriate to one of your usual presentations. Also the exercise of self-reflection can be quite beneficial for most of us as we all tend to see the world fairly subjectively even when we think we are being very objective and that we are dedicated “truth-tellers.”

—George, one of the curators of the exhibit, Gaza & the West Bank, at Friends Meeting at Cambridge, January 2013


Thanks to Pat Rabby and an African tradition she discovered: everyday honor the ancestors, contemporaries, and successors in one’s lineage. So, I honor W. Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke White, Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Julia Margaret Cameron, Sebastio Salgado, and Henri Cartier-Bresson as ancestors, thanking them for their examples and teaching; photographers I work with or know about as contemporaries, thanking them for covering topics I don’t have time or experience for; and my students and those who might view my photos and learn from them (positive as well as negative lessons) as successors. I pray to offer a vital if small contribution to my lineage. This way I do not have to be intimidated by the achievements of others or compete with peers. I remain grateful for all their contributions to the unending stream of good photography.

As long as I can earn enough to pay my taxes I’ll be happy. I’m not a professional photographer you know, I’m an amateur. “Amateur” is the French word for lover.

— Imogen Cunningham

Julia Margaret Cameron | Tennyson's

Alfred Lord Tennyson, photo by Julia Margaret Cameron

Dorothea Lange- Washington, Yakima Valley, near Wapato. One of Chris Adolf's younger children. Farm Security Administration Rehabilitation clients.

Yakima Valley Washington during the Great Depression, photo by Dorothea Lange

In this 1942 Dorothea Lange photograph from the newly published “Impounded,” a family in Hayward, Calif., awaits an evacuation bus.

From the book, Impounded, a family in Hayward, Calif awaits an evacuation bus to a Japanese American internment camp, 1942, photo by Dorothea Lange

Lange on car-SM

Dorothea Lange

Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion… the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.

—Dorothea Lange

00582706: (00/00/0)

Margaret Bourke White

Weston point lobos CROPPED

Point Lobos, 1939, photo by Edward Weston

Edward Weston, Charis Wilson-SM

Charis Wilson, photo by Edward Weston

Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.

—Edward Weston


Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson


Henri Cartier-Bresson, photo by Jane Brown

To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It’s a way of life.

—Henri Cartier-Bresson

Refugee camp at Benako, Tanzania, 1994. © Sebastião Salgado

Refugee camp at Benako, Tanzania, 1994, photo by Sebastiao Salgado



Margaret Bourke-White’s photo of black South African gold miners, deep beneath Johannesburg, made in 1950. Inspired by this photograph I worked twice in South Africa in 1990 and 1998.


Pete Seeger as pictured at Harvard by Jon Chace in 2000 c, with my photo made in 1996, Pete’s banjo quote: This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender, after Woody’s This machine kills fascists. Seeger combined art and activism in a powerful, emulatable manner.

US navy war photos

My first photo book, US Navy War Photographs, compiled by Captain Edward Steichen, USNR, published around 1947, that I bought in a drug store on Chicago’s South Side around 1951

Coffee for Eniwetok Marine Survivors


From US Navy War Photographs

Photographers mate 2 2

Photographer’s Mate-3,2,1, Chief, published 1961-1964, I studied the entire series assiduously, as if myself preparing to be Chief Photographer’s Mate



An exhibit of W. Eugene Smith’s photos of WW2 that I saw in Kyoto Japan in 1995, wondering,
why would a conquered nation exhibit photos showing its conquest and suffering?

Woolman booklet

John Woolman, the Quaker luminary. With David Morse, I made a booklet which includes many of my photos related to the booklet’s topic, 2000. (Click on the image for a copy.)


Devil’s Slide by Minor White, with whom I informally studied when he taught at MIT. With others we co-founded a school of photography at Project Inc. in Cambridge Massachusetts around 1970.

MLK_mosaic_poster-gabe greenbergMartin Luther King Jr, as shown pensively in a mosaic photo by Gabe Greenberg

…During a recent march in Nabi Saleh village in Palestine, children carried signs that quoted Dr. King. One sign read: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. They held up it up as they marched to get water for their village, only to be rebuffed by tear gas, rubber bullets, and at least one live round. Yet they stood holding another one of King’s admonishments: “If a man has not found something he is willing to die for, then he is not fit to live.”…

—Spare Change News editorial, January 11-24, 2013


Okinawa, Japan, World War 2, photo by W. Eugene Smith

w. eugen smith 2-minimata

From the book, Minimata, about a small Japanese fishing village poisoned by mercury, photo by W. Eugene Smith

From the ground-breaking, world-traveling photography exhibition, The Family of Man, the photo The Way to Paradise Garden by W. Eugene Smith, the final photograph in the series. I read this book when it was published in 1955, in my mind marking a division between hope for a sane world and the later belief that humans are doomed—hopelessness as conveyed by much of subsequent photojournalism.

In 2005 I summarized much of my photographic life in a keynote presentation I made at New England Yearly Meeting sessions (Quaker), “And you will be carried where you do not wish to go, a photographic witness.” (in 8 parts, February 2010)

Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to gird your loins and go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your arms, and someone else will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go. (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he [Peter] would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

—John 21: 18

I ponder how my photography is both mirror and window.


ALERT: difficult to view photos below.

Woe to those who plan iniquity,
to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out
because it is in their power to do it.
They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes,
they rob them of their inheritance.   

Micah 2


Historically, prophets have abounded in the Levant, historic Palestine, among them Abraham, his wife Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Obadiah, Amos, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Uriah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Malachi, Deborah, Esther and Jesus himself. Navi, the Hebrew word for prophet, derives from niv sefatayim, meaning fruit of the lips, a speaker. Conventionally thought of as women and men gifted with predicting the future, their more crucial role is often to confront the power structure—often at the risk of their own lives. Are they all sealed into scripture, long expired, known by texts only? I doubt it.


Yeshayahu Leibowitz

(From the Internet)

Observing Israeli intoxication by power after the lightning victory of the Six Day War in 1967, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, known by some as a “prophet of wrath, harbinger of the future,” spoke against the Israeli occupation of Palestine up to his death in 1994. He stated, “if we maintain the violent repression of people they will revolt and commit terrorist acts. And we will use all means to suppress this…. The moment nationality becomes the highest human value that is fascism.” Altho recognized by Israel for his contributions to chemistry, philosophy and religion, when he spoke against the occupation he was hated, derided, and excoriated by the state and its populace, but not defeated. The tradition of prophets from that region continues.

As I write Gaza suffers one of its worst assaults in the past 10 years, a string including Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, killing 1,500 people, upwards of 80% civilian; Operation Pillar of Fire in 2012,;and most recently “Operation Solid Cliff” (a.k.a. Protective Edge). A limited air assault purported to end rocket fire into Israeli civilian areas and destroy tunnels into Israel has become a major ground assault. Four children innocently playing on the main Gaza City beach were murdered by Israel. Eight members of the Abu Jarads family in Beit Hanoun were killed by Israeli artillery in another attack. The El Wafa Medical Rehabilitation hospital was totally destroyed. The Shejaia district, east of Gaza City, has perhaps suffered the most. Some 72 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed on one day as the Israeli army searched for tunnels.

The UN and various human rights groups estimate some 75% of the casualties are civilian. As of July 30, 2014 (numbers increase daily), according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in collaboration with humanitarian partners, 1,170 Palestinians are dead, including 127 women and 232 children, more than 7,000 injured, at least 215,000 displaced persons are sheltered by UNRWA (United Nation Refugee Works Administration, responsible for Palestinian refugees) schools and other shelters, most of the 1.8 million lack adequate access to water and sanitation services, and nearly all receive electricity 4 hours per day. While 57 Israelis have died, including 54 soldiers, with many injured. Three Israeli civilians have died from Gazan rocket and mortar attacks.

NumbersWashintonPostJuly 29, 2014

SOURCE: U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Israeli Defense Forces. (published in the Washington Post, click image for update)

Israel attacks anything connected with Hamas, which besides constituting a military organization, is the municipality of Gaza, providing all the usual services, mostly civilian. President Obama declares his unwavering support of Israel, saying, “No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory,” I would ask the president, what nation or region would accept a total siege and periodic military attacks that kill civilians, ruin infrastructure, control all entrance into the territory, and label any resistance as terror?

Thru my 11 years of photographic work in the region I’ve made many friends, Palestine and Israeli. This is a blessing and a curse because I feel heart-connected with the violence, in touch with people there—while, on a minor level, suffering with them. I joined the one-day international fast for solidarity with those who suffer, intensifying my connection. I attend and photograph local demonstrations, vigils, and marches. I report nearly daily to my email list of those who’ve expressed interest in my work and the issues. This blog entry is my first attempt to more specifically explain the situation as I view it and my feelings.


Rick Colbeth-Hess and David Nir, the latter a justice advocate from Tel Aviv

In Bil’in, Occupied Palestine (photo by Skip Schiel)

They peaked when David Nir, an Israeli activist and friend living in Jaffa-Tel Aviv forwarded a set of photos allegedly of Gaza. Like him and others who’d circulated the photos I was horrified. They were easily the most disturbing images of violence I had ever viewed. I warn the reader about the following photographs.

Why are “my people” so anxious to create Hell upon Earth?

It is astonishing how the collective field here (i.e. the “Jewish” sector) has so swiftly become totally engulfed in sleep and automatism;  except few, the majority is willingly blind to the ongoing butchery and agony of the Palestinians.

If you find it wholesome, please do as you wish with the photos. (I assume you have similar photos from 2008/9).










Please convert and distribute this message to everyone you know around the world
الرجاء ارسالها الى كل من تعرف حول العالم 
علي السنتريسي ali santrisi
pbc – Palestine TV \ presenter
تلفزيون فلسطين – معد ومقدم برامج
00972599210912 -
امين سر المكتب الحركي للصحفيين في اريحا  



Overlooking Gaza from Sderot (From the Internet)

Another Israeli friend, Nomika Zion, living in Sderot, the small Israeli town built on Arab lands less than one mile from Gaza, asked me if I could verify that these were indeed current Gaza photos.

Dark dark days in Israel and in Palestine in so many ways.

Horrible pictures, horrible reality, and so much violence everywhere. I’m hardly breathing the air around me.

Tnx for sharing, although it’s so painful to look at the mirror.

A few days later:

Question: who took these horrible pictures and how do u know that all of it are coming from the war in Gaza?

I would like to forward it, but I want to make sure that I’m sending accurate and reliable information.

Someone told me that people distribute pics from Syria under the Gaza war title.

Pls, let me know, it’s very important.


About the authenticity of the photos, here’s what I learned:

Using watermark identification on some of the photos and the name of the person who I think initiated the chain I found these links.

Ali Alsntrici, Palestinian journalist based in Jericho

Ain Media, based in Gaza

Belal Mhareb, photographer, Gaza

David Nir is convinced they are authentic and Uri Davis, an Israeli Jewish activist who spread the photos, seems also convinced.


Rana Baker

In Gaza (photo by Skip Schiel)

For further confirmation here’s a portion of an interview by a young Gazan friend, Rana Baker, with her father, a physician working in El Shifa hospital, the main Gaza City hospital. (Rana, an excellent writer and photographer, studied photography with me in Gaza in 2012.) I am convinced that whether these particular photos are recent and from Gaza, they accurately depict the carnage of Gaza.

… My father, Basil Baker, is a neurosurgeon, a Cairo graduate who works at al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip. We live just across the road from this hospital, except that now I live in London….

“Not all wars are the same,” he said. “Incursions in the past were not as bad. This time, most of the injuries fall into one of two categories: first, there are injuries which are the direct result of missiles; these are often very severe, body parts ripped apart. The other category consists of injuries which result from rubble falling down on people: broken ribs and so forth. They [the Israeli army] bombard houses, so there are those who have their walls collapse over their bodies [long silence] and so on.”

I asked him whether there are many women and children in the hospital.

“Yes, a lot,” he said. “I mean, many women, but many more children. They [the Israelis] are probably blind.”

What about amputations?

“A lot. I am sure you’ve seen the pictures. There are so many children whose limbs we had to amputate. There’s a child who came with his belly ripped and legs already gone….”

For the complete blog

—Rana Baker <rana-baker-91@hotmail.com>

Dr. MH writes me from Gaza:

Unfortunately, your people in the USA are still very naive and very little understand what’s going on. The current war is not with Hamas or specific Palestinian party ..it’s with all Palestinian seeking freedom…seeking to live in democracy and have access to borders and free trade just like the rest of the people in the world. Now its time to get rid of the ugly occupation…

Believe me, most of the people in the States are just concerned about how quickly the pizza will arrive home, which club to spend fun time at and where to go with girlfriends……I have been to the States several times and this is most of the lifestyle of the American…of course, your government likes you to be in this form …

sorry for my English, electricity will be off in 3 min.

And again, from my courageous and poetic friend, David Nir, a singular voice (but not the only), from an email:

Israel has now entered the final stage of its nightmarish self-inflicted horrors which it disposes on the Palestinians; it has now very much ripened so as to issue a full scale, NAKBA/genocide. The F16/15’s shower bombs, the heavy guns “work” overtime, day and night from outside Gaza, shredding Gaza to bits. I always sensed “Israel” has it in its blueprint. Now its obsession has been entirely unleashed, and arrogant rhetorics are all over. Time of confusion and doubt, however  dreamtime still dominates. More confusion is present now. Refusal to wake up. However you can, since yesterday, notice it on the face of the leaders and the media presenters: the hero posture has shifted to include some pain and loss, the impeccability is gone. 
With 80-400 nukes ready for instant launch and given its proven rejection of universal humanness principles, and equipped with its Masada-archetype urges in its subconscious darkened cellars, preparing to express themselves fully; who knows what it has in store for humanity?! And now Obama shamefully again prostrates in front of genocidal Israel, excellent timing. 


Four prophets, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, David Nir, Nomika Zion, and Rana Baker, along with Eyad Sarraj, Mahmoud Darwich, Uri Avnery, Gideon Levy, and Amira Hass. And, let’s hope, many others who will elevate the discourse—against suicide diplomacy and for sanity and humanity. May those with ears, hear; and those with eyes, see.

The final word, from my former photography student, Ban Ghussain, in Gaza:

Bomb, attack and kill… but we will never let you kill our children’s hope and smiles… we will always protect them with our love …. we will let them live and laugh despite our pain and fear…
To my beloved son “taym”… you are the most precious thing in my and your dad’s life.. i pray to Allah to give us the strength to give you a safe, peaceful, and happy life..


Ban, Taym, and Islam in Gaza 
Haztor air force base demo
Haztor Air Force Base, Israel (Thanks to David Nir)

Then I said,

“Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel.
Should you not embrace justice,
you who hate good and love evil;
who tear the skin from my people
and the flesh from their bones;
who eat my people’s flesh,
strip off their skin
and break their bones in pieces;
who chop them up like meat for the pan,
like flesh for the pot?”

Then they will cry out to the Lord,
but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
because of the evil they have done.

Micah 3 New International Version (NIV)


“Right-wingers beat Haifa deputy mayor during anti-war protest,” by Roy (Chicky) Arad, July 20, 2014

“The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce,” by Francesca Albanese

VIDEO: Celebrities, artists and activists call for Palestinian freedom in #GazaNames project

PHOTOS: Children in Gaza at the Qattan Center for the Child by Skip Schiel

“Why do you continue to kill people?” by Alan Hart

VIDEO: Free Free Palestine (Boston demonstration) by Skip Schiel

PHOTOS: Outrage Against Israeli Massacre in Gaza: Boston Protest :: Part 1 (of 2) by Skip Schiel

VIDEO: Gaza Emergency 2014

Once and For All, by Uri Avnery

“It’s Not Just About Fear, Bibi, It’s About Hopelessness,” by Nomika Zion

Other Voice

“Fathers and Sons in Gaza,” by Wasseem El Sarraj

“The Massacres at Wounded Knee and Gaza: December 29, 1890 & December 27, 2008,” by Skip Schiel



Excerpts from my journal during a 3 week sojourn in Detroit Michigan, late winter 2014, searching for the seeds of the New Miracle of Detroit


April 6, 2014, Sunday, Detroit

Cool, low 30s, clear, calm.

Leaving early from my meeting at the Boggs Center I drove to Birmingham [on April 5, 2014] , a wealthy suburb north of Detroit, to join a rally and march organized by various United Church of Christ congregations shouting out for proper treatment of pensioners, home owners, people of color, etc. Make the banks pay!


Quotes from Cornell West and Martin Luther King Jr.


This group was slow to form. Nearly 1 hour after what I thought was the declared start time of 2:15, at Shain Park in the center of Birmingham, speeches began, many of them moving, as was true of Rev. Rowe from the Central Methodist church who led with a joke about Methodists always being late, and a young Black minister who rapped his sermon. A former police officer, female, spoke to us about integrating the force. She now advocates for retirement rights for city workers like herself. The last speaker, a woman, Mamie Chalmers, was from Birmingham, Alabama, the real Birmingham, the illustrious, Birmingham, the Birmingham famous for its role during the Freedom Movement. At some length she informed us about the reality of Jim Crow, including how she was forced to order thru a window and move aside to wait for the food, and—a fact I was not aware of—to buy clothes, to be fitted for clothes, one would be measured and was prohibited from trying on the clothing. Wearing the jacket, trying on the shoes, both prohibited.


“Mamie Chalmers personifies the Birmingham, Mich. to Birmingham, Ala. connection in the struggle for human dignity. At age 20, the Alabama native joined the movement and in 1963 was among the demonstrators attacked by police dogs, and eventually losing part of her hearing from the water hose blasts. She was arrested and spent five days in the Birmingham County jail. Yet, she attended the historic March on Washington that year.”

I made a point of standing with Black people, talking with them, gaining trust so I could photograph them, with each other and with White people. It was a hearty mixture of human beings, friendly and welcoming.




Finally, finally, the march. Thru the downtown section of this rich suburb. Many noticed. I tried to show them noticing. To the Chase Bank, one of the many banks seemingly profiting from Detroit’s poor conditions and the bankruptcy. We chanted and sang one song. I wished there were more in the style of the Freedom Movement. As someone noticed later, resurrecting Detroit is good for the burbs, for the state, and probably for the nation. Renewal is in all of our best interests.





April 7, 2014, Monday, east of Erie Pennsylvania, on the train

Cool, low 30s, partly cloudy, calm—all without feeling the weather, merely sensing it thru a train window as I cruise home to Cambridge.

A few stories from last night’s [April 6, 2014] dinner conversation at the Covintrees’s.

Bill Wylie-Kellerman and Denise, recently married, Denise also a minister, were in a serious auto accident, but unharmed. I believe an oncoming car leapt the barrier causing Bill’s car to veer into an embankment. The first driver sped off. This is on Bill’s Facebook page if I can remember to check it later for details. He and Denise had intended to a participate in the Birmingham march and may have been on their way there when the accident occurred. Several at the march wondered where they were, since they were expected. And it was Bill, I believe, who told me about the march.

George and Winkie related a contrasting story about a White man, Steve Utash, who accidentally struck a young Black boy at night with virtually no street lights functioning. A crowd of neighbors, led apparently by 2 young Black men, assaulted the driver who’d stopped to assist the boy he’d struck. They beat him savagely and crushed his head. He may not recover. The driver had done the right thing, the neighborhood was shocked and disagreed with the beating. George and Winkie bemoaned how this incident will cause more Whites to not enter Detroit, an escalation of the great divide. The problem of the Color Line, as described astutely by W.E.B. Du Bois, remains with us.

My comment on the lack of street lighting may have elicited this story. Lights off—crime on. This story directly affects me because of my night travels, either in car or on bike [I later learned the assault occurred not during the night, but at 4 pm.]. Also my willingness to frequent and even live in Black neighborhoods. We agreed that the Dalai Lama’s injunction to carefully consider the consequences of one’s actions before acting is wise. Also using language rather than fists, rocks, and guns to communicate.



Interfaith March for Justice: From Birmingham to Birmingham

Five Plead Guilty to Beating a Motorist in Detroit,”  19, 2014

Reading Rivera, Resurrection and Remembering in Post Industrial Detroit by Bill Wylie-Kellerman

“Resurrection City” by Bill Wylie-Kellerman

Excerpts from my journal during a 3 week sojourn in Detroit Michigan, late winter 2014, searching for the seeds of the New Miracle of Detroit

Hart Plaza

Hart Plaza

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.

―Ernest Hemingway


March 29, 2014, Saturday, Detroit

Cooler, high 30s, overcast, still

Yesterday [March 28, 2014] mainly a 16 mile group bike ride organized by Farmada with the North American Bicycle Week, one of the week’s 5 or so group rides. The westerly wind was strong, tiny water droplets periodically fell on us, the temperature was not too cold, in the 50s. Possibly this curtailed participation because only about 50 at most rode, all but a few young, most seemingly from Detroit or nearby, I might have been the only one from a distance. An array of bikes, some fancy, some plain, mine the only folding. One young Black man asked me, what do they call that type of bike? Suggesting the paucity of folding bikes in Detroit on bike rides.

Our route began at Hart Plaza, progressed to the river, along the river walk, up “the cut” (an old rail line made into a linear park, S would love this) and then circuitously thru an old cemetery where many brewery magnates are buried, across a bridge to Belle Isle Park, to the statue (organizers shortened the route because of the strong winds on the island, blowing down the river), a break for photos and snacks (I peed in the fountain—scandalous!), and reverse the route, stopping at Andrew’s for lunch.


Dequindre Cut, once a rail line


Belle Isle Park

There, eating Cajun fried fish with fries and coleslaw, I sat with a Black man, the one I thought had been with a very attractive young Black woman. I sat with him partly expecting she would join us—she never did. This guy, missing a number of upper front teeth, spoke incessantly about the many rides he’d made in North Carolina up and down mountains, his strategies for winning races, all the while gesticulating wildly with his hands and arms. When I told him about Mt. Washington (in the White Mountains), he exclaimed, jubilantly, I want to climb that mountain! Later I realized this was not the Black man I thought, with the handsome partner, but more a loner. I positively identified the 2 when I examined my video footage.



I made numerous photos, most of them lame, and about 5 video clips, some perhaps useable. I suspect 2 guys I spotted with single lens reflex cameras, able to turn around and photo people from the front rather than the back as I mostly did, produced better results. One guy, dark black, used a Nikon D700, full frame camera. As we rode, we discussed the relative advantages of the D600 which I usually use (not on this bike ride) and the D700. He told me, I no longer worry about high ISO, at 3200 there is no noise. I felt, zooming around Detroit by bike, I’d made a photo buddy. I only wish we could join together later and compare photos—maybe online later [never happened that I found, except for the stupendous one below].


Courtesy of Farmada Free Ride


Indian Village


Leaving the restaurant early, believing the ride effectively over, I pedaled as much as possible along the river back downtown to retrieve my car. I’d parked it in a lot with other cars opposite the Motor City Casino, near the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) headquarters. I worried. Ah, happily, it was still there and intact.

I have to wonder about Detroit as Motor City. Maybe Detroit has lost its earlier distinction and now, with the times, found or is discovering a new one: Detroit as Bicycle City.


At Eastern Market where I expected more bike week activities I found only a group of men huddled beneath large blue blankets conversing. Asking where the bike week activities are, they told me many had been canceled because presenters had cut out, numbers were definitely down, they suspected because of the weather. I thought, what a bunch of wimps.

So I wandered the Market alone, not looking for bike events, but searching for a fine cup of coffee and something sweet. I found precisely what I needed in the large Gratiot Central Market amidst its myriad meat, poultry and fish—a heavily sugared cruller and a large cup of cheap black coffee. After depositing 2 quarters in the hands of “my brother” waiting by the main door for likely benefactors, I sat outside because there was no seating inside. I sat opposite a series of graffiti on a hardware store that might be abandoned. Poor sign.




Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. 

—H. G. Wells




The Wind Blew With Us/Against Us (video)

Farmada Freeride

North American Bicycle Week

Bike Detroit

Detroit Women Bike


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