Slices of 2022-Part One: Nakba and Extinction Rebellion

Inspired by traditional end-of-year letters from others, never having written one myself, I’m motivated to try now. But with a twist: save for last (if ever) what tends to come first in most letters—family and travels, possibly health but usually not—and begin with what’s for me juiciest. So, here’s what I’ve been up to, what I attempt to make. My letter will be heavy on graphics, befitting a visual person. With very few smiles.


nakba portraits

Nakba survivors, first thru fourth generation

My Ongoing and Relentless Nakba photographic project is going into its fifth year, from summer 2018 to now. With help from Palestinian colleagues in the West Bank, I locate, interview, and photograph Palestinians forcibly expelled by Israel during what’s called the Nakba, or Catastrophe. This was simultaneous with the War for Independence by Israel that established the state in 1948. The refugees now live in the West Bank and Gaza—the “internally expelled.” I learn where their homelands are, now partially erased by Israel, and with the privilege of my American passport cross the Green Line (internationally understood to be the border between Israel and the Occupied Territories) to return to their ancestral homes (usually not accessible by them or their descendants) to photograph. I include photos of where and how they live currently in internal diaspora, and eventually will add archival photos of their original regions during and before the expulsion.

During 2018 and 2019 I made two 2-month-long trips. Then the pandemic crept into my life—or cascaded in. I needed to postpone trips planned for 2020 and then 2021 and then spring 2022. The latter because of health—more later on this.

I believe I have done sufficient fieldwork photographing about forty survivors of the Nakba, first-generation thru fourth. That may be enough people to give a sense of the roughly 750,000 human beings who lost their homes, livelihoods, often their families, and sometimes their lives. I could use a few more destroyed homeland sites but this seems unlikely because I’ve failed to find Palestinian guides who could lead me to shrines, graves, building ruins, and other indicators of earlier Palestinian life.

Destroyed or appropriated homelands

Currently, I’m at the long and extremely difficult wrap-up phase. Which means first to complete a comprehensive slide show which I’ll convert into a movie and distribute. Here’s the first section, intended as an introduction to my project.

I’ll renew my efforts to find exhibition venues (mostly closed during the pandemic, now opening; I did show photos over the web.) and magazines that might use my materials. Ultimately a book. The slideshow, when completed, can also be the first sketched design for my book. (If any reader has leads for venues, either magazines or exhibit spaces, please email me.)

Hundreds of refugees and migrants aboard a fishing boat moments before being rescued by the Italian Navy as part of their Mare Nostrum operation in June 2014. Photo by The Italian Coastguard/Massimo Sestini

Political domination, climate, war and other forms of violence, and economic conditions, especially gentrification, forcibly, frequently violently, displace more and more people worldwide. This affects many of us directly or indirectly; we’re either personally uprooted from our homes, or experience population pressure because of newly arrived people. This problem is especially vicious for Palestinians.

Major questions: how do the Nakba survivors and their descendants look now, thru my lens? How do people forced from their homelands presently live compared with Israelis in those former Palestinian homelands? What happened during the expulsions? What were the lives of the refugees before the Nakba? How did people travel to sites of refuge, what could they bring with them, have they ever returned to visit? How are the stories transmitted thru the generations? Do people wish to return, under what conditions? Generally, how might the right of return for Palestinians work?



Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a vibrant international nonviolent movement for climate justice. We use street theater, parades and die-ins and skits, posters and flags and buttons and signage of all sorts, chants and songs and brass bands and dancing, and direct action civil disobedience, often occupying bank lobbies and airports serving private jets and strategically blocking traffic. The Boston Red Rebel Brigade is one highlight of working with XR.

Boston Red Rebel Brigade

Since photographing the opening event of the Boston chapter in April 2019, in the lobby of the main office of Boston’s leading newspaper, The Boston Globe, I’ve photographed and filmed numerous occupations, road blockages, holiday caroling with climate justice lyrics, mock UN climate meetings, a banner presence at the recent gubernatorial Massachusetts inauguration, and other events, sometimes involving civil disobedience, often public art.

I work with other climate justice organizations as well, such as 350Boston, Climate Courage, and Alternatives for Community and the Environment.

I contributed stills and movie clips to this video.

An interview with Skip Schiel about his photography and work with Extinction Rebellion by Liah Adina at Northeastern University in Boston—2021
During a climate-driven massive fire, a kangaroo rushes past a burning house in Lake Conjola, New South Wales, Australia Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

NEXT: Movie making, including how YouTube/Google unfairly and unjustly canceled my channel and what I did about it.

4 thoughts on “Slices of 2022-Part One: Nakba and Extinction Rebellion

  1. Thank you, Skip Schiel, I just finished watching Part 1 and looking forward to Part 2! Glad you are finishing your project, maybe not as thoroughly as you had planned but the story is powerful concentrating on fewer people. You have captured their souls with your camera and your calm words.


    1. mares, thanks so much for reading, staying in touch with me—and with the Palestinians in their struggles for freedom, human rights, and sovereignty.



      *Skip Schiel *(a.k.a. Ein El Nour—عين النور)

      9 Sacramento St, Cambridge MA, 02138-1843, USA 617-441-7756 (landline)—617-230-6314 (mobile)—+1-617-230-6314 (WhatsApp)

      Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

      —Carl Sagan

      Website – *Blog *- *Video (Vimeo) *- Video (YouTube) Subscribe


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