Archive for the ‘Palestine & Israel workshops’ Category

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In Eyewitness Gaza, Skip conveys his personal observations on events in Gaza, the complexities and consequences of action and reaction at the military and governmental level and its affects on real people. The video graphically depicts the emotional as well as physical affects of violence and offers hope in statements from young people about their commitment to non-violence. Sadly, it also describes how opponents of a peaceful approach discourage such actions. It is a compelling insight into the situation in Gaza.

—Joan Raducha, American Friends Service Committee, Madison Wisconsin

Detail For Show: Eyewitness Gaza


Eyewitness Gaza shows an accurate view of current life in Gaza, through the lens of photographer Skip Schiel. His photographs and reflections on many trips to Gaza show the unique position Gazans are in: under siege, under occupation, constantly threatened by attacks from Israel and their own political factions, with little awareness or concern by the rest of the world.

Central to “Eyewitness Gaza” are Gazan youth. How do they survive a siege and marginalizing by the world community? Through events in Palestine such as the Gaza Youth Break Out movement, and to the most recent manifestations of violent and nonviolent transformation of “Arab Spring”, Schiel and his camera chronicle a community trying to rebuild itself.

Type of Show: Specials

Target Viewing Market: National (US)

State of Production and/or Target State or Province: New Hampshire

Frequency of Episodes: One time show

Producer: Joe Public Films

More information about Eyewitness Gaza

What is PEG Media?

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The stations who use PegMedia for content cover tens of millions of cabled homes and represent more than 50% of the total cable viewership in the US, giving producers a very large potential audience.

We welcome producers who are PEG stations, independent producers, musicians, and documentary and film makers, in a wide variety of genre.

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Excerpts from my journal while in Detroit, moving backwards (not always), last to first.

About deindustrialization, depopulation, residential and commercial vacancy, corruption of capitalism—and the rise of urban gardens, local resistance and activist organizations—ending with news about the US Social Forum, Allied Media Conference, and the first public national gathering of anti-Zionist Jews in the United States.

In several parts, with periodic photos and videos.

A photographer is not a soldier nor a refugee, he is a spectator who tries to show a situation and if possible, also show how it feels. (emphasis added)

—Bill Burke

June 22, 2010, Tuesday, Detroit, home of KD

As I wrote Y yesterday, responding to her long letter:

The big news today at the assembly of Jews confronting racism and Israeli occupation—you’ve heard about this no doubt on Amy Goodman and Democracy Now and thru my emails today—was the Oakland picket that at least temporarily prevented the offloading of an Israeli ship. Whether it will offload somewhere else or later in Oakland is a question. Observing the growing solidarity between Palestine and workers around the world (including South Africa) is heartening. The Assembly [of Anti Zionist Jews] gave the bearer of the news a standing ovation.

Big news indeed, generating the most vociferous acclamation during of the entire Assembly, so far. I read later that the ship would probably be allowed to offload within 24 hours, which seems a huge mistake of the organizers, maybe result of negotiation, or simply caving in. I posted to my Levant list and others 2 items about this, hearing back from Sahar and Ellen C almost immediately.

Being with so many anti Zionist Jews fills me with hope. Yesterday I wore my Refuser Solidarity Network t-shirt to the Assembly realizing, this is about the only place I know of where I can wear this shirt and shirts like it among communities of Jews where I won’t get yelled and spat at, ostracized, threatened with arrest, or stoned. No one commented on it, which I thought slightly odd.

I missed all the workshops of the Assembly, not by intention, more by sloppiness and laggardliness. I’d intended to enter the spiritual and cultural reclamation workshop but I was late by 1 hour, which would mean missing 1/2, and the room was packed. So later I sat in with a group formed to discuss questions raised by the workshop. I thought this might be an ideal moment to dip into Judaism, learn more.

Initial questions were about definitions of spiritual, cultural, and reclamation, moving to the question of whether appearing spiritual can be a strategic decision, whether being spiritual is necessary to be an effective anti Zionist, and whether we should attempt a reclamation or “clamation.” I.e., claim to be the real or true Jews.

All very rich and informative. My contributions were to suggest the notion that spirituality is the adherence in practice to ancient wisdoms, teachings, principles. I admitted to not being a Jew (could anyone guess?), that I attended mainly to learn, and my spirituality is attempting to ground myself by listening to that still small voice inside. Furthermore, explaining that I make photo presentations about Palestine/Israel to my Quaker community, I believe appearing to be spiritual can widen the audience, that I’ve been criticized for not being sufficiently spiritual, not a real Quaker. When we closed by each expressing what stood out from the discussion, I said one word: parallels.

We’d opened by stating our name and then the pronoun by which we’d prefer used to refer to us. What, I asked, is that second question? Are you a he, she, or it? Oh, sexuality identification. You can call me a he/him. One woman wished to be referred to as it. Is this not a mark of radicalism and youth?

Along with this self-referential question is that of the toilets: maintain gender separation or blur it? Initially blur was the decision so one day I walked into what I thought was the men’s room and found 2 women waiting for the stall. Would I embarrass anyone is if use the urinal? Not at all, go right ahead. Then, due to opposition from the management, the organizers removed the use any signs to reveal the older his and hers. We were encouraged, however, to do what we wished regarding toilet choice.

2 serendipitous occurrences, as often happens at such events: 1st, meeting a young man on duty as peacekeeper. Wearing a large hoop in one ear, sporting a short black beard, himself short, I learned he will graduate from Hampshire College next year, is part of the divestment movement there, and with his group ponders how to meet the challenge of transience—students leaving the schools that had been the sites of their organizing. No answers, he said, and I suggested that he and they look at other student movements with the same problems, like the civil rights and anti Vietnam War movements. I gave him one of my handbills announcing next fall’s tour, hoping he could arrange a presentation at Hampshire.

The 2nd occurrence was meeting Tova Purlmutter at the Unitarian Universalist church as I tried to visit the Nakba photo exhibit, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace. She got me in, shared to some small extent my thrill when I saw about 6 of my photos in the exhibit, and as we were parting asked me to contribute something to the auction her organization, The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, is mounting in November. A photo from the Gaza series that I’ll exhibit at the US Social Forum. I noticed that Rula Halawani also contributed many photos to the exhibit, my once-colleague from my ill-fated Birzeit University experience.

The curators hope to tour the show, I offered to help find a site in Boston, Alice Rothchild will give a short presentation, Voices Across the Divide, on Thursday using her video interviews with Nakba survivors. Tova informed me that Alice’s mother had done a similar project about holocaust survivors. This is emblematic—a generational difference, a transition of attention, who is spotlighted?

Everywhere I turn I pick up aspects of the new day dawning: Jews and others opening of their eyes to the truths of Palestine/Israel. I can feel the buzz at the Assembly expressing a belief that they are part of an unstoppable movement.

However—and there is always a however—forces on the other side are strengthening and becoming more active. Karen told me about a group with the name of something like Huras, orchestrating defense of Israel. This might relate to the Re-brand Israel campaign that promotes ways of talking to counter Palestinian rights claims. As Tova said, this is a generational phenomenon, the olders being more supportive of Israel than the youngers. As others have asked, what is left if Israel is dismantled as a Jewish-only state, if anti-anti-Semitism in discredited?

Our research shows that Israel’s brand is essentially the conflict, said Ido Aharoni, the ministry official in charge of the program. Even those who recognize that Israel is in the right are not attracted to it, because they see it as a supplier of bad news. The conclusion is that it is more important for Israel to be attractive than to be right. (Anshel Pfeffer writing in Ha’aretz, October 6, 2008)

I am hopeful, not optimistic.

Walking up to the International Institute around lunchtime, I noticed a large “sub assembly” outside finishing their lunches. This, thought I, might make a good video. I’ll just meander thru the various groupings and show the variety of attendees. I did this but 3 times was gently stopped and reminded about many not wishing to be identified as a participant, not quoted, not recorded in anyway that would identify them. Yes, I know about this policy, that those wishing anonymity are wearing orange tags, I said, and agree with it, and I’m trying hard to split my attention between the video making and the needs of others.

Now, I wonder, what do I do to conceal identities but maintain the continuity of a single take? Learn how to blur selected portions of the frame; it’s done all the time. Maybe Tom can help me.

The reasons for the concealment range but are mostly wishing not to suffer should anyone connect them with the Assembly. People could lose jobs, sever from families, maybe destroy relationships. An indication of the power of the Israel lobby and Zionism generally. [I plan to post this once I’ve blurred certain faces.]

A few observations about Detroit: the word does not mean by the water as I’d thought, but by the strait, it is on the water link between 2 of the Great Lakes, Erie and Huron. In all my Detroit traveling so far, we’ve not passed one supermarket, nowhere to buy more than the rudiments except at liquor stores, a sure sign of desolation. Ditto for parks, Karen confirming my impression that Detroit seems to lack parks, despite the gobs of open space and the legacy of French urban planning.

Rick attended a Bury the Hummer event organized by the intrepid women of Code Pink. They bought a burned out abandoned Hummer in a junkyard, towed it to the Heidelberg art installation, hired a backhoe, dug a pit, dumped the Hummer in it. They did not fully cover it so it will remain a testament to the folly of that insane vehicle, poke jabs at local Blacks who might prefer Hummers, and footnote “the Detroit miracle” generally when Hummers probably were birthed. Now they die, or will soon.

Similarly, cultural jamming. Dunya gave another presentation that went over very well with the Assembly. They cheered at most instances of jamming—subway ads, bus shelter ads, slide projection, etc. [Recently, September 2010, she sent information about cultural jamming in Emeryville CA alerting people to Hewlett Packard supplying Israel with electronic surveillance equipment used at the checkpoints [including a video that seems to have temporarily disappeared from YouTube.]

Joey phoned, Y wrote, Lynn wrote on my wall, all wishing me happy dad’s day, but nothing so far from Katy. Which doesn’t alarm me, I trust her love remains firm despite a slight oversight. I will not de-home her.

As I sat in front of the Detroit Institute for the Arts, just outside the International Institute where the Assembly is based, I wrote Y, pleased she’d written me such a long loving letter, and eager to reply. She is house-sitting for me while I am here in Detroit. Yesterday also I land-mailed the card I’d written with well wishes as she travels west, a minor twist on our old tradition of offering to each other a short message of inspiration as one sets off on a journey. Collecting these might provide a cross section of our relationship.

I wrote about the bus ride, quoting my journal, then added:

I think you would have appreciated the tour I took a few days ago via the Allied Media Conference, the east side of Detroit, beginning with an abandoned auto factory, moving to a controversial new industrial site which displaced many residents and was billed as providing many jobs (not yet appearing), and ending at an urban garden named Freedom Freedom (I’m not sure why the doubling), built cleverly on abandoned land. Nearby we visited a scrap art installation that has been 2 times destroyed by the city and remains opposed by many in the community. Later I’ll send photos and video from this tour.

She’d written:

Happy Dad’s day, dear Skip

I remain happily here in your home–a hot thundery day today with high humidity–so I have the big fan on exhausting all the indoor hot air. did some watering to supplement the showers that came with the passing storm and will tie up tomatoes.

And besides writing about the Buddhist day of mindfulness, she added:

One more special thing–quite by chance I crossed paths with George C while walking to Sparks St. We had a little chat (not much time) and i told him–as it seemed overwhelmingly true in that moment–that he is looking more and more like Gandhi (the nose, the mustache). He was touched. And I noted that there was a speck of orange dust on his nose, which I asked his permission to dust off while we were talking (granted). I said George–this looked like pollen, have you been walking up this street smelling the flowers? He admitted to having stuck his nose into a lily and we both laughed at the delight of it. The little orange speck was quite becoming, like the touch of red people wear on their foreheads at Divali. So that was a very good encounter–so appropriate. he is such a lovely guy.

[George is one of the few in my primary community sharing my passion and activism for Palestinian rights, a tight bond.]

And now I’m back to work on my papers for Tufts–in your lovely workspace. thank you skip–and blessings on your journey.

If there is any “shopping bag” (like the one from Atlanta) at this SF [Social Forum—we’d attended that together], please get me one if you can.

We continue to feel the love that is part of friendship, committed by not being committed—filial rather than erotic, romantic, “in love,” or partnered.  Perhaps something more enduring. Agapic, magnanimous—for the other, rather than primarily for the self.

Karen and I are getting along well, she a distinct blessing to my experience. We dined together again last night at the Cass Café, continuing to flow naturally together. We wrote on one email to Anne, me asking Anne to guess who I’m with. She seems deeply interested in what I’ve been doing and thinking, asks many questions about the immediate and the historic. Outside the International Institute she introduced me to a tall young man who turned out to be the man assisting me with participation in the Palestine tent, Andrew. Last night we were lost together in Detroit, trying to get home after the fireworks, which we watched from the top of a parking garage at Wayne State University. I feel in a couple with her and that she shares this. We make decisions together, laugh together, are a compatible team.


If only, if only…

Rick, very astute on these matters, always loving to hear me expound on my latest heartthrob, suggested we might make a couple. I shook my head, no Rick, my buddy, I don’t think so.


“Cost-Cutting Detroit Will Close 77 Parks,” June 25, 2010

Assembly of Anti Zionist Jews

Allied Media Conference

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Excerpts from my journal while in Detroit, moving backwards (not always), last to first.

About deindustrialization, depopulation, residential and commercial vacancy, corruption of capitalism—and the rise of urban gardens, local resistance and activist organizations—ending with news about the US Social Forum, Allied Media Conference, and the first public national gathering of anti-Zionist Jews in the United States.

In several parts, with periodic photos and videos.


…Detroit’s notorious devastation is not a natural disaster but a man-made Katrina, the inevitable result of illusions and contradictions in our insane 20th century pursuit of unlimited economic growth. [In a new documentary, Requiem for Detroit?] we witness autoworkers reduced to robots producing Henry Ford’s Model Ts—and then struggling to reclaim their humanity through sit-down strikes or battling Ford’s goons at the overpass. We meet Southern blacks who relish the “freedom” of Northern cities but also experience the racial tensions that exploded here in 1943 and 1967. Cars that grow the profits of the auto industry speed by on freeways which destroy neighborhoods to provide escape routes to the suburbs. Neighborhoods are turned into war zones as the drug trade replaces jobs that have been exported overseas.

…The new American Dream emerging in Detroit is a deeply-rooted spiritual and practical response to the devastation and dehumanization created by the old dream. We yearn to live more simply  so that all of us and the Earth can simply live. This more human dream began with African American elders, calling themselves the Gardening Angels. Detroit’s vacant lots, they decided, were not signs of urban blight but heaven-sent spaces to plant community gardens, both to grow our own food and to give urban youth the sense of process, self-reliance, and evolution that everyone needs to be human.

That’s why growing numbers of artists and young people are coming to Detroit. They want to be part of building a City of Hope that grows our souls rather than our cars.

—Grace Lee Boggs

June 24, 2010, Thursday, Detroit, home of KD

Yesterday at the first full day of the Forum, I attended a morning workshop whose leader had written me in the spring with a specific invitation to join a conversation about arts and activism. At that earlier point they were contemplating using the panel format but yesterday’s workshop was entirely and blessedly different: very interactive. We first walked slowly and then hurriedly in the group tightly packed, loosening up, avoiding bumping while making some contact. Then stop and reach out to someone nearby, touch their shoulder, say who you are and what you are bringing, doing, hoping, etc. Then in a circle one person begins a game by saying, all my people who are photographers doing social justice work, or the like, prompts all who are doing this to scoot across the circle to exchange places. We stood shoulder to shoulder. One is left out who then announced, all my people who are making murals. Etc.

Small groups, large group, and other devices brought us together as artists or near artists working for transformation of systems. In my small group I met 3 young black people working in their Chicago high school to foster deeper food awareness. Beginning on Earth Day and lasting an entire week, they focused on food—buying and eating healthfully, and tending the earth. The themes of the small groups were stories of success, lessons learned, and challenges faced. Our group spoke about breaking the quotidian trap, finding a wider audience, generating media attention, making the work more collaborative, and using the values of a group we’d like to penetrate, like the Tea Partyers, and then subverting or transforming those values, as one in our group did about single payer health coverage.

Rather than attend the first of 2 afternoon workshop sessions I wandered around the huge hall housing table displays. Each stop I made of about 6 was a mini workshop, tailored precisely to my needs, one on one, and highly engaging. I met a representative of Friends of the Earth US, the Palestine center from Chicago where I remet Jeff from the International Solidarity Movement who I’d first met in Palestine 3 years ago, an online Palestine store, an anti-racist org, a group fostering awareness of democracy in college age people, the Christian Peacemaker Teams, and the American Friends Service Committee where I learned about a program on later that week that they sponsor about Palestine, and many others.

Gaza, August 2009

I’ve not found yet a space to hang my Gaza photos. Checking the tent area early morning with Rick, Grove, and meeting Dave Matos, my tour organizer, we all were disturbed by the tent’s distance from the main events, and that they had no walls. There is an emigration from this area, nearly 1 mile away, which is not a scenic walk, to Cobo Hall where most events will be held.

The final workshop, attended with Ridgeley from Waltham, a gutsy feisty woman on the Israel-Palestine topic, was about journalism in Israel-Palestine with representatives from the Electronic Intifada. Departing from the popular education model favored at the Forum, 2 young women, one a writer, one an editor, spoke mostly about the work of Electronic Intifada, and principles of good journalism. They began by having us brainstorm topics for stories, I suggested comparing Wounded Knee and the Nakba. I thought then we might work one thru but instead we examined selected stories Electronic Intifada had published.

Not bad, but most of the material I knew and felt confident many others did as well. Yet, the 2 hours were useful.

We took the evening off; I missed the 95th birthday party for the preeminent Detroit based political organizer, Grace Lee Boggs. Y is tuned to the Forum thru Democracy Now, wrote me to not miss the Boggs’ party. It started at 9 PM, Rick and I wished to be home to rest and plan our workshops for today. I also wanted to do my laundry.

James Boggs & Grace Lee Boggs

On the way home we shopped for food in our neighborhood, more than an ordinary event. To locate a major food source is a chore here; we’ve seen nothing in all our driving around Detroit. We heard about one, some 1-mile north of home on Wyoming St. It is adequate. We are now well stocked with food, including some of my necessities like peanut butter, yogurt (no large containers, only the small heavily sweetened portions), bananas, cottage cheese, cheese, bread, etc.

I worked on my Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel workshop plan last evening, tuning it to the Forum workshop context. Awakening around 2 am, I had a rough time falling back to sleep. Once again, the Hour of the Wolf syndrome kept me awake while flooding me with new ideas. Among them, mentioning to my upcoming Hydropolitics workshop Detroit’s founding along the strait between 2 major rivers, the name Detroit itself expressing this idea in French—along the strait.

Another storm hit us last night, with wind, lightning, and thunder, plus driving rain. Much like the storm I suffered while busing back home last week. For this entertainment we’d assembled on the front porch, mostly out of the rain, exclaiming our joy at the fireworks.

In the first of 2 dreams last night I was tending a little girl, whether Katy, my daughter, or Eleanor, her daughter, is not clear. We’d been at some sort of gathering, talked as adults together, ate lunch provided by others, and then headed off on a walk. We came to a median strip, took a break, when I noticed P, Katy’s mother, moving toward us. Guess who’s coming to meet us? I said, with much excitement. Eleanor turned her head, saw grandma, began running toward her when Eleanor fell down and furiously vomited. P and I were alarmed. The dream ended.


In the second I was with a woman with whom I’d established cordial relations. She did not resemble any of the women I know. She was pleasant, moderately attractive, without much frisson but possessed enough to generate my interest. We sat near each other at a table with others, found ourselves peering deeply into each other’s eyes as a signal of recognition that we had become a couple. We also rubbed knees together, another sign known only to us. The dream ended. Both dreams ended inconclusively, as the majority of my dreams do.

These 2 dreams represent two points of my passions: grand parenting and adult love. Also the two themes mix—my relationship with a little girl as another type of love.



Electronic Intifada

US Social Forum

Grace Lee Boggs, Living change: A collection of writing by the Detroit activist and educator at Yes Magazine

Grace Lee Boggs interviewed on Democracy Now by Amy Goodman

Joanna Macy writing about tar sands oil (May 25, 2009)

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Excerpts from my journal while in Detroit, moving backwards (not always), last to first.

About deindustrialization, depopulation, residential and commercial vacancy, corruption of capitalism—and the rise of urban gardens, local resistance and activist organizations—ending with news about the US Social Forum, Allied Media Conference, and the first public national gathering of anti-Zionist Jews in the United States.

In several parts, with periodic photos and videos.


Ultimately photography is about who you are. It’s the seeking of truth in relation to yourself. And seeking truth becomes a habit.

—Leonard Freed, 1929 – 2006

June 25, 2010, Friday, Detroit, home of KD

Another short sleep night, 1 AM to 6:15, mainly because of miscommunication with Karen about the jazz club, how long that would continue.

But first, how the day went. Searching for the United Auto Workers’ building to check out my workshop venue, dropped off at the wrong building by Karen’s boyfriend, Michael, the healer, the 2 women in front of the city building that he thought was the UAW not knowing where the building was, a man walked by who knew. Ron turned out to be the leader of a Social Forum walking tour. We walked together to the correct building and he talked me into joining the downtown Detroit protest-oriented walk.

Locating what I thought was my room, I met 2 women with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF, and verified that the organization has a strong interest in water issues. I’d been trying to connect with them for years and now I had stronger leads. Meeting Ron, meeting these 2 women, were both providential. Later I discovered this was not the room, it had been changed and I barely located the correct room on time.

My workshop, The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, I thought, given my inexperience with this sort of workshop format—highly interactive—went well enough, even possibly very well, but I’m not sure that is the assessment of others, especially Karen who seemed tepid about it. 20 or more showed up, which itself is an achievement for me since prior workshops in Atlanta at the first US Social Forum had not drawn more than a handful. I tailored this presentation of my Hydropolitics show to the format, selecting portions that seemed most relevant and helpful, interjecting questions and leading discussions periodically thru the show. Since one main emphasis of the forum is on finding solutions and working together, I highlighted that theme.

Detroit River (from the Detroit side, Winsor Ontario, Canada on left),
photo courtesy of the Internet

One brainstorm I had while checking out space was to invite the participants to view the Detroit River [connecting Lakes Erie and Huron, via Lake St Clair] from one of the windows, asking them, where do you see hydropolitics here? Which indeed led to a fruitful opening discussion. Then to instances of hydropolitics in the States, then the world. And now let’s turn to successes over water rights, where do we find that? More discussion. All this before the show itself.

I could have rehearsed better, I could have chosen episodes better, I can and will simplify the statistics, but with what I have and who I am I am guardedly pleased with the result. Karen added a great deal of insights, knowledge, experience, and passion. Reviewing this now I realize I’d forgotten to ask people to introduce themselves, even tho I’d prepared by considering how other leaders do that vital opening. Chock this up to how rattled I was by initially setting up in the wrong room. I’d not printed out my lesson plan either and then couldn’t easily access it on my computer during the show. I might have used the white paper in the room to outline the agenda, forgot to do that as well. Many slips between full success and partial. This was partial. Next time will be improved.

The walking tour began at the UAW building near Cobo Hall, headed up Woodward Ave, the route of the march Dr King led on June 23, 1963—he gave an early iteration of his famous dream speech then—, entered Cadillac Square, stopped in a few parks, and more or less returned to central area. Since the theme was protest and political organizing generally, we learned about Detroit labor history, a little too much detail about local politics for me but the group seemed to appreciate it. Also urban renewal, some solutions working well, others bringing more misery.

The problem last night that brought me home so late was a combination of miscommunication and mismatched expectations. Sure, the jazz club, but how about returning home at a decent hour? Karen is a night person, I a day, and never the 2 shall mix. She became awake, I went to sleep. As much as I love raucous jazz, the sound was piercingly loud, nearly painful, and sitting around listening or waiting to listen is to me just boring. Beginning at 9 PM—we’d eaten at Niki’s in Greektown—I thought we’d leave around 10 like we did the week before. Instead, we sat thru 2 sets, the raffle at midnight, and then awaited David Lippman’s decision about whether to play or not. He played and it was grand—and time to leave. Karen reminded me that she’d picked me up at 7:30 AM, extremely early for her, from the bus-train station, suggesting it is now my obligation to return the favor and accommodate her wish to stay late.

Surprisingly I gained new energy after initially nearly falling asleep at the table. And if not for this morning’s duties, might have wished to remain alive all night for the jazz.

Yesterday I met Anne R, my comrade on Quaker Palestine/Israel issues. Also ran into Carol Urner who I last was with 11years ago in Lesotho, Africa. She used a walker. I recognized her by her braids. Sad that her husband Jack died in an auto accident in Lesotho, and that she was so badly injured. Despite her disabilities she plods on, a model of endurance.



Water Apartheid Fact Sheet by Skip Schiel

“They Need It. We Waste It. The powers that control the Great Lakes are fortifying the ramparts for the day the west runs out of water,” by Michael Miner

“How labor won its day” by Patricia K. Zacharias / The Detroit News

“Black history, labor history intertwined in Detroit” by John Rummel

“47 Years Ago in Detroit: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Delivers First ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech” (interview with Grace Lee Boggs)

Dr. King’s Speech at the Great March on Detroit

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Midwest Photographic
Presentation Tour

(October 12 – November 7, 2010)

The Rising of the Light:
Photographs by Skip Schiel from Israel and the Occupied Territories of Palestine

To bring Skip Schiel and his photographs to your church, school or civic group/For more information

Contact: David Matos

Email: skipschieltour@gmail.com

Phone: 803-215-3263

Rafah, Gaza Strip, 2008 c.

Skip Schiel has been documenting the Palestinian and Israeli reality through photographs and journal postings since 2003 – work with a better feel for the detailed texture of life in Gaza and the West Bank than any appearing in US media. Schiel spends time where most journalists dare not tread, amidst ordinary Palestinians, sharing in the dangers and frustrations of their lives.

His work has been invaluable for my own. As a writer for a Buddhist publication whose parents were victims of the Holocaust, I try to convey a view of the conflict that differs from the US media’s, which obfuscates the injustices and sufferings inflicted on the Palestinians by Israel. Through his portraits of Palestinian men, women, and children striving to maintain ordinary routines despite harassment and attacks by Israel’s military, Skip reveals to us the true face of Palestinians.

—Annette Herskovits, Consulting Editor, Turning Wheel, the Journal of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Jenin, July 2009


Slideshows and print exhibits featuring photos, audio & thoughtful narration by Skip Schiel, updated from his 3 month trip during the summer of 2009

Ramallah, fresh fruit drink stand, July 2009


Gaza Steadfast

Skip Schiel, a frequent visitor to Gaza, was there in January 2008 and the summer of 2009, before and after the devastation of Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009. While there, he was witness to the effects of the Israeli siege on Gaza as well as the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead. In Gaza, Schiel worked with the American Friends Service Committee youth program teaching and photographing, also at Al Aqsa University where he led a photographic workshop. The theme of this show is hope and hopelessness. How do residents of Gaza survive psychologically?

Gaza fish market, El Mina, the old port, August 2009

Tracing the Jordan River

A slide show about traveling from one of the headwaters of the Jordan, the Banias River flowing from Mt Hermon in the Galilee, to where the much-abused river disappears before Jericho. With an examination of the Sea of Galilee, especially the region of the major share of Christ’s ministry, and the kibbutzim, Israeli settlements originally intended to reclaim land and define the contours of the forthcoming Israeli nation.

The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel

Israel-Palestine has scant water resources, but now with the current strife water is a dramatic mirror of power relationships. Through an examination of water in various settings—small Palestinian villages & the Gaza strip—along with large cities shared by Israeli Jews & Arabs—Haifa & Jerusalem—Schiel portrays a very difficult to visualize topic. Updated with new photos from summer 2009.

Bethlehem the Holy, the Struggle for an Ancient City

Bethlehem is rapidly becoming Imprisoned Bethlehem, surrounded on all sides by an 8-meter (23 foot) high concrete wall, with checkpoint access restricted. Thus, Christians (the population shrinking from some 30% 40 years ago to 2%) and Muslims within Palestine can rarely leave or enter Bethlehem. Nearby Israeli settlements confiscate Palestinian lands while the local economy, heavily reliant on tourism, languishes under ghetto-like restrictions. Schiel explored this situation from November through Christmas 2008 as well as during the summer of 2009 while he lived in the Aida refugee camp. Updated with new photos from summer 2009.

Quaker Play Center, Amari refugee camp, Ramallah, 2008 c.

Quakers in Palestine & Israel (Or John Woolman in the Land of Troubles)

What do Quakers, the Religious Society of Friends, have to do with Israel-Palestine? By following some of the activities in the Ramallah Friends School & the American Friends Service Committee’s work in Gaza & the West Bank (& with references to its efforts in Israel), Schiel shows how this numerically small but often effective group has made a difference in this land of troubles.

The Matrix of Control

A work in progress, an examination, based on the brilliant analysis of Jeff Halper, of the mechanisms Israel uses to maintain the occupation: checkpoints, separation or annexation wall/fence, permit system, road blocks, Israeli-only roads, military court system, closed military zones, and closures and incursions.

Occupation thru a Velvet Glove

Another work in progress, Haifa—a little known story is that of the Arabs in Israel. Comprising 20% of Israelis, they are second-class citizens with rights surpassing those of their sisters & brothers in the West Bank & Gaza, yet an overwhelming force besieges them.

Other Presentations Available

PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITS Available for Exhibition

Gaza is Home to One & One-half Million Human Beings: How Do They Live?

Photos of possibilities: how people live, suffer, stay strong and determined—sumud, in Arabic, steadfast.

The Living Waters of Israel-Palestine

A print version of the Hydropolitics slide show

Photo by Ban Al Ghussain, 2009




Gaza City from the window of the Quaker Palestine Youth Program, 2007 c.

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Excerpts from my journal while in Detroit, moving backwards (not always), last to first.

About deindustrialization, depopulation, residential and commercial vacancy, corruption of capitalism—and the rise of urban gardens, local resistance and activist organizations—ending with news about the US Social Forum, Allied Media Conference, and the first public national gathering of anti-Zionist Jews in the United States.

In several parts, with periodic photos and videos.

INVITATION: host a photographic presentation about Palestine-Israel by Skip Schiel, fall 2010


The uncompromising attempt to live one’s highest ideals openly and consistently is… the most effective social action one can take.

— Jim Corbett, Goatwalking

June 26, 2010, Saturday, Detroit, home of KD

A batch of dreams last night, perhaps because I slept on the floor rather than the bed—due to Rick’s loud snoring.

Among them: renting or loaning my home to a group of men. They might have expected me to cook for them, I didn’t cook, when I returned I saw they’d cooked and left dishes unwashed. They also left chicken that I ate. As they packed up, they said nothing to me, obviously aggrieved at my lack of services.

In the second I was biking along a narrow road, passing in the opposite direction a group of lovely young women. A loud motorcycle passed me and I considered how attractive the driver might be to the women compared to my attractiveness. I rode an old bike, the seat not adjusted high enough. I tottered a bit trying to start.

Ah, there were so many others, contemplated as I lay awake, and now vanished into some space that I cannot access.

My main event yesterday was the workshop I led at the Social Forum, Photography as a Tool for Political Transformation. [Syllabus and information] It drew some 30 people, surprising me. I expected between 5 and 15. Mostly young, some with much experience in the topic, a somewhat tired group—late afternoon session, hot and muggy in the room, little ventilation, tight quarters—requiring me to shift pedagogy to attune to their condition. Which meant small groups, large group reports and participating in designing a timeline, watching examples of the photography, listening to stories, asking questions.

The relative success of this session prompts me to consider expanding it to a full 8-week or so series at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education or elsewhere. I used about 1/10 the material I had accumulated, expecting this. I always stuff my cannon with more fodder than I can possibly shoot.

One young man, Spike, especially engaging, suggested after the session ended that next time I offer an agenda. He wasn’t sure how long each section would last, and he grew tired, as I’m sure some others did, creating the timeline. He also had advice about how to approach Jewish venues by being careful with who cosponsors my offering. He is Jewish as I’m sure several others were. I spoke frequently about my work and displayed photos from my current Gaza series. This, by the way, and my other workshop, Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, were the only times I displayed the photos, even tho scheduled to present at the Palestine tent. The tent was finally dismantled, individual tables moved to the main Cobo Hall display area.

Now that I’ve completed my main assignments at the Forum I feel relaxed and celebratory. The celebration came in 2 phases, attending a full moon ceremony led by Starhawk along the river, and making use of my relatively private sleeping space to imagine what if. Starhawk, matronly, plump, with a soft graceful voice, led us thru the ceremony. We formed a circle, relaxing and meditating (led first by Grove then guided by Starhawk), standing and relating to the 4 earth elements, fire, water, earth, air, by stepping forward when Starhawk called one, moving slightly in a dance-like manner, calling into the circle something related to our element that moves us or that we like, each element in turn. I stepped forward for water and earth, photography and garden.

Starhawk, photo courtesy of the internet

Next to me was one of the most attractive older women I’ve met in months, if not years, a radiant, long haired, blond woman, wearing a long, brightly colored dress, barefoot for this ceremony, wearing no jewelry or makeup. When we introduced each other, me mentioning my Israel-Palestine work, she said we have something in common. I’ve been to Gaza 4 times this year. I work with Codepink, bringing in delegations. My name is [I’ll call her KK.] I first noticed her at the earlier dinner in the Eastern Market, at the Ethiopian restaurant, as Codepinkers and friends all sat outside galloping down our buffet. There is something very special about her; I probably will never meet her again.

At the ceremony we next formed a spiral dance line, holding hands with Karen on my left and KK on my right, weaving and chanting what we’d learned earlier: we take the dream and make it real. I swayed and reveled, remembering our summer solstice celebrations along the Charles River, organized by JVB, Minga, and me.

This was the perfect culmination of the Social Forum—and of my 3 back-to-back conferences: river, moon, circle, dance, chant, meditate, meet people, stand on grass, little head work, much heart work. Later in my floor fantasy I continued the experience in ecstasy and abandon, not with KK, nor with K, but with a young dark-skinned beauty at the ceremony with the most ideally formed limbs, long black hair, flowing white dress. She and I somehow linked and agreed to coitus along the river—blessed by the full moon, our private full moon ceremony. This also is in line with a key ingredient of my former solstice design: orgy.

Another hit of the day was staffing the Itisapartheid table for Rick. This was an opportunity to sit on the back side of the table. Rather than asking, I was asked; rather than submit to solicitation, I solicited. And met, since we were back to back with the American Friends Service Committee table, someone from that agency. Alice Rothschild stopped by to greet. I met a young woman disenchanted with Quakers because she found at her Brooklyn meeting little political activism. We commiserated and agreed on many points. She mentioned hearing about racial incidents at some Quaker meetings, and was aware of the newly published book that pinpoints the historic—and continuing—gap between Quaker word and act, Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship. We agreed, that despite our best efforts to end racism among Friends, problems remain. As with Sandwich meeting on Cape Cod declaring that they are not racist, some, maybe many in New England Yearly Meeting, reject the accusation of being by definition white racist.

Such spontaneous encounters are the lifeblood of these gatherings.

In trying to understand the logic of the Forum organizers, why they chose such disparately located venues, Grove and I thought maybe it was for political reasons. Cobo Hall was large enough to hold all events, but perhaps to spread the wealth and prestige organizers distributed the sites. Which doesn’t explain why the tent cluster site was so inaccessible, or why the residential tents weren’t put along the river, a much more accessible and earth-connected place than where the sleeping tents were located.

Click image for enlargement

While riding the radial train, called the People Mover [see video placed above], while videoing much of the route, I met a friendly plump woman who told me the local media has extensively covered the Forum, usually with a positive tone. She asked me, you’re not a political group are you, like the Tea Partyers? Well, we are very political but not in the direction of the Tea Party. I was then tempted to mention communists, socialists, anarchists, gay rights advocates and the like attending our Forum, but held back, no, we are not the mainstream political parties, you might call us progressive or the radical left.

Trying to locate the site of my afternoon workshop, Woodward Academy, I ran aground in the labyrinth of downtown Detroit. With its origin in French urban planning, the center is radial, called Cadillac Square (or a newer name), near Comerica Park. Which creates much confusion about direction. I asked 3 local people how to reach Woodward Academy, intersection of I-75 and Lafayette. All were perplexed; one suggested looking at a Google map. He found someone with a compatible phone, looked up directions, and then asked an assistant in his café to write them down. She tried, then, exasperated, said, just go down Monroe, thru Greektown, across I-75 and you’ll be there. It worked, but I learned that even resident Detroiters are confused by some sections of the city.

Grove toured Detroit’s southwest region, near the Detroit River, heavily polluted by plants that process the discharge of sand tar oil mining [my earlier blog] in Canada. She related health facts, the disastrous connection between pollution and health. I hope to visit this area in my free time, an example of the desperation of Detroit. I’d also like to visit Arab Detroit, near Dearborn, and the sites of the auto industry.

Reading Amy’s interview on Democracy Now with one of the Social Forum organizers I realize I’m not precisely cross sectioning the Forum experience. One element missing from my knowledge is the People’s Movement Assemblies, when organizers can coalesce around their issues. This is one of the main purposes of the US Social Forum and I’ve missed it. Mainly because I am not an organizer.


A 63-foot steel arch, “Transcending,” depicts labor history, workers’ occupations and labor’s vision for the future on a grand scale. Sculpted by David Barr and Sergio DeGiust.


Exercises to learn photojournalism by Skip Schiel

“Thousands Converge in People’s Movement Assemblies to Launch National Action Agenda:”



People’s Movement Assemblies at the US Social Forum, Detroit and Octavia Butler, interview on Democracy Now

One of Starhawk’s blogs about the Social Forum: “US Social Forum: Resilience

COMING THIS FALL: Second Popular Palestinian conference, October 29-31, 2010, Chicago

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Dear friends and colleagues in the struggle,

I hope you can attend or might circulate my schedule of the four events I’m presenting at the US Social Forum in Detroit, June 22 – 26. General information here

The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, a slide show

Gaza City outflow pipe debris

A slide show-workshop using water as a dramatic mirror of power relationships in Palestine/Israel, while exploring connections with the global water crisis and suggested responses.

Jun 24 2010 – 3:30pm

UAW Building: 1032

Photography as a tool for political transformation, a workshop

Teaching photography in Gaza

Using examples, we’ll examine principles for making and using photographs intended to foster political transformation.

Jun 25 2010 – 3:30pm

Woodward Academy: C-1

Tracing the Jordan River, a slide show

Jordan River valley at Beit Shean

About exploring from one of the headwaters of the Jordan, the Banias River flowing from Mt Hermon in the Galilee, to where the much-abused river disappears before Jericho. With an examination of the Sea of Galilee, especially the region of the major share of Christ’s ministry, and the kibbutzim, Israeli settlements intended to reclaim land and define the contours of the future Israeli nation.

Time & place to be announced, check the US Social Forum website

Gaza is Home to One & One-half Million Human Beings: How Do They Live? a photo exhibition

Gaza City, 2009

Photos from the most recent journey, August 2009, and earlier visits, featuring ordinary life lived under extraordinary conditions, with some relevant history.

Time & place to be announced, check the US Social Forum website

Thanks and I hope to see some of you there.

PS, I’ll also be attending the preceding Allied Media Conference and The First National Jewish Anti Zionist Gathering.

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