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Posts Tagged ‘gaza’

Dedicated to Fadia Daibes Murad, award-winning Palestinian hydrologist, activist, personal friend and colleague. In 2009 she died when her car crashed during a heavy rain storm as she returned from an international water conference in Turkey.

Fadia-slideshow

And to Monica Lewis-Patrick, Detroit Water Warrior, co-founder and co-director of We the People of Detroit who fortunately and providentially I now work with.

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Wade in the water
Wade in the water
Children, wade in the water
God’s gonna trouble the water
Who’s that young girl dressed in red
Wade in the water
Must be the children that Moses led
God’s gonna trouble the water

What precisely are the links, and how can I portray them?

water-justice-pal-mich-page-1-sm.jpgClick here for an enlarged version, easier to read.

The sources of these claims:Water Justice-Pal-Mich-page 2

Click here for an enlargement.

How did this theme evolve for me, comparing water rights in the two regions?

Probably while in the West Bank of occupied Palestine on one of my many journeys there since 2003. On that first visit I observed a luxurious swimming pool in the huge Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adummin, near Jerusalem. I visited Palestinian villages in the West Bank, some within a stone’s throw of Ma’ale Adummin, such as Bil’in, and Palestinian cities like Ramallah, and heard stories and observed details about water deprivation. A hydrologist with the Palestinian Hydrology Group showed and explained limits on well depths, cistern construction, and water harvesting from green houses in the West Bank. He introduced me to Palestinians who needed to buy water from Israel at four times the rate Israelis pay, consuming on average about one-quarter what Israelis consume. The clincher in the West Bank: Israel exploits 80% of the water in the mountain aquifer which is mostly under the West Bank.

Swimming pool, Ma'ale Adummim, Israeli settlement, Oct 03

Swimming Pool, Ma’ale Adummim, 2003, photo by Skip Schiel

In Gaza where I also visit regularly (when I can enter, which is more and more difficult because of Israeli restrictions), I photographed for a UN study about the hydrology, touring the small region with experts and interviewing officials. We visited fragile sewage storage ponds in the northern section of Gaza. Designed to be temporary until Israel granted permission to expand the sewage ponds, one later broke and flooded a nearby village.

Sewage pond, Rafah, Gaza, 2006

Sewage pond, Rafah, Gaza, 2005 c, photo by Skip Schiel

Over my nine explorations to Palestine-Israel I traced the entire Jordan River system from headwaters on Mt Hermon to its miserable terminus in the dying Dead Sea, much of it thru the West Bank. Here the lower Jordan (shrinking and filled with sewage) is inaccessible to Palestinians. Some 50% of the western shore of the Dead Sea is in the West Bank but controlled entirely by Israel.

Dead_Sea-IMG_4876

Dead Sea, stranded pier because of rapidly decreasing sea level—this section of the Sea is in the West Bank and most Palestinians are not allowed on this beach.

Wade in the water
Wade in the water
Children, wade in the water
God’s gonna trouble the water
Who’s that young girl dressed in red
Wade in the water
Must be the children that Moses led
God’s gonna trouble the water

Detroit drew me for many reasons—the presence of the Great Lakes with their abundant water, refineries that pollute air and possibly water, the Detroit River, and declining access to water by people struggling with high water rates while water bills of corporations are endlessly disputed or are ignored. There are health risks to water shut-offs, including sickening bacteria that linger after water restoration. On my most recent trip in June 2017 I discovered that more than 100,000 Detroit households had suffered water deprivation. Shut-offs often meant families lost custody of their children because lack of water affected sanitation, cooking, and drinking.

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United State Steel Corporation in Detroit from Windsor Ontario Canada, 2017, photo by Skip Schiel

In 2014 Flint generated international attention when, because of emergency managers attempting to save money, the city switched to Flint River water, leading to lead poisoning. As of early 2016 Flint has the highest water rates in the nation. Because of the widespread attention on Detroit and Flint, the Detroit city government has finally instituted an installment plan for avoiding cutoffs, easing the burden on low-income households. Many activists criticize this plan as being inadequate. Flint has returned to the comparatively cleaner Detroit water system.

Flint water distribution_DSC5912

Free Water Distribution, Flint Michigan, 2017, photo by Skip Schiel

Most importantly, Detroit and Flint are on the cutting edge of “Water Warriors,” citizens fighting for water justice, similar to activist groups in Palestine and elsewhere, such as the Boston-based Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine. I visited Flint for the first time in June 2017, after learning in detail the conditions, consequences, and struggles of lead-poisoned water at the Second International Gathering on Social Movements on Water. I photographed the contaminated Flint River and, additionally, staff providing free bottled water to residents.

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Free Water Distribution by We the People of Detroit, 2017, photo by Skip Schiel

Who’s that young girl dressed in white
Wade in the water
Must be the children of the Israelite
Oh, God’s gonna trouble the water

Wade in the water, wade in the water children
Wade in the water,
God’s gonna trouble the water

Flint River

Flint River, 2017, photo by Skip Schiel

What’s to be done?

In 2014 activists invited two of the United Nation’s Special Rapporteurs to visit. Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, declared: “I’ve been to rich countries like Japan and Slovenia where basically 99 percent of population have access to water, and I’ve been to poor countries where half the population doesn’t have access to water … but this large-scale retrogression or backwards steps [in Detroit and Flint] is new for me. From a human rights perspective, any retrogression should be seen as a human right violation.”

In advance of their arrival, U.N. Rapporteurs de Albuquerque and Leilani Farha wrote, “Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.”

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UN Special Rapporteur, Leo Heller, by video feed (on the screen in upper right) at the Second International Gathering on Social Movements on Water, 2017, photo by Skip Schiel

In 2010 the UN’s General Assembly declared it “Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

Passed by the General Assembly in 1948, the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stated that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.”

Notably missing: the fundamental human (and other creaturely) right to clean, safe, affordable, accessible water.

On the 60th anniversary of this landmark declaration, Steven Starr, producer of the extraordinary movie, Flow, presented at the United Nations a petition to add Article 31 to the Universal Declaration:

“Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.”

Maude Barlow, in 2008-2009 the UN’s first senior adviser on water issues to the president of the United Nations General Assembly, stated “Water must be seen as a commons that belongs to the Earth and all species alike. It must be declared a public trust that belongs to the people, the ecosystem and the future and preserved for all time and practice in law. Clean water must be delivered as a public service, not a profitable commodity. We need to assert once and for all that access to clean, affordable water is a fundamental human right that must be codified in nation-state law and as a full covenant at the United Nations.”

Maude_Barlow_photo SM

Maude Barlow

Who’s that young girl dressed in blue
Wade in the water
Must be the children that’s coming through,
God’s gonna trouble the water, yeah

Wade in the water, wade in the water children
Wade in the water,
God’s gonna trouble the water

What’s next?

Fight to make and implement law, while continuing to expose conditions. In Fadia Daibes Murad’s personal words to me, “I’m beyond writing about the conditions. I want solutions, and I feel the main route to solutions is thru adjudication by international bodies.”

Water must be:
  • Sufficient. The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise.
  • Safe. The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person’s health. Measures of drinking-water safety are usually defined by national and/or local standards for drinking-water quality. The World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for drinking-water quality provide a basis for the development of national standards that, if properly implemented, will ensure the safety of drinking-water.
  • Acceptable. Water should be of an acceptable colour, odour and taste for each personal or domestic use. […] All water facilities and services must be culturally appropriate and sensitive to gender, life cycle and privacy requirements.
  • Physically accessible. Everyone has the right to a water and sanitation service that is physically accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity of the household, educational institution, workplace or health institution. According to WHO, the water source has to be within 1,000 metres of the home and collection time should not exceed 30 minutes.
  • Affordable. Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) suggests that water costs should not exceed 3 per cent of household income.
 —UN’s Water for Life Decade

You don’t believe I’ve been redeemed,
Wade in the water
Just so the whole lake goes looking for me
God’s gonna trouble the water

Wade in the water, wade in the water children
Wade in the water,
God’s gonna trouble the water

By Willie Mae Thornton

LINKS:

Detroit & Flint

Detroit water board approves 1.7% rate hike” by Christine Ferretti, The Detroit News, June 21, 2017

“Nearly 18K at risk as Detroit water shutoffs begin” by Christine Ferretti, The Detroit News, April 2017

“UN officials ‘shocked’ by Detroit’s mass water shutoffs,” by Laura Gottesdiener (2014)

UN: Detroit: Disconnecting water from people who cannot pay – an affront to human rights, say UN experts (2014)

Flint Water Crisis Fast Facts

Palestine-Israel

“Water apartheid in Gaza and Flint,” by David Cronin (2016)

From the women of Gaza to the women of Flint

World Bank: Water Situation Alarming in Gaza (2016) 

“UNICEF seawater desalination plant helps head off Gaza water crisis,” by Catherine Weibel

Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine

Palestinian Hydrology Group

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The universal door manifests itself
in the voice of the rolling tide.
Hearing and practicing it, we become a child,
born from the heart of a lotus,
fresh, pure, and happy,
capable of speaking and listening
in accord with the universal door.
With only one drop of the water
of compassion
from the branch of the willow,
spring returns to the great Earth.

—Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (as quoted by Thich Nhat Hanh)

BreadPuppetListen

Courtesy of Bread & Puppet Theater

I suffer the perpetual difficulty of pure listening. No distractions, no meanders, no questions or reflections of any sort, the purest form of listening possible. Deep listening as taught by the venerable Zen Buddhist monk, poet, and activist, Thich Nhat Hanh. No visual observations or any other sensory input. Is this even possible? Is listening ever pure? Is the mind ever truly empty? Could the Buddha do it, when in his prime? Could Thich Nhat Hanh himself when healthy? Can anyone teach pure listening? What might be some techniques?

Shifting to my usual tool, photography, I might ask the same questions. Photography without distractions—or are distractions important to expand vision? Photography without…without what? What is the essence of pure mind photography, expanded vision, seeing as if the other senses were detached, the mind itself dormant so that the connection between scene observed and camera is clear, only the retina and camera sensor involved, a direct channel?

Have I ever achieved pure or deep listening? Possibly I do it best when in conversation, not in simply listening. And photography, pure and deep photography, maybe when most attentive to the larger world—including my inner world—I make the purest photos, the most powerful. Where was my mind’s concentration when I met the young men in the Gaza city park and chose one (or did he choose me?) to photograph?

Israel Palestine-Gaza-2193

Gaza City, 2012 c.

What was my thinking? Did I see his eyes thru my viewfinder, my frame, via the inner mechanism of my camera? Did I concentrate better because I was distracted by thoughts about the camera’s settings, position, the scene’s lighting? How pure was this seemingly impure process that may have resulted in what some say is a beautiful, moving, extraordinary photograph?

Then, shifting again, to my life. How can I live a pure life? How does pure listening help, if it does, pure photography, if it does, pure eating, pure sleeping, pure fucking, if any of these are possible?

I pray. That seems to help. I call on and regularly thank my muses, maybe surrogates for what others might name god or higher power or inner light or the divine or spirit.

(Asked of Thich Nhat Hanh in 2001 shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Towers and Pentagon) If you could speak to Osama bin Laden, what would you say to him?…

If I were given the opportunity to be face to face with Osama bin Laden, the first thing I would do is listen. I would try to understand why he had acted in that cruel way. I would try to understand all of the suffering that had led him to violence. It might not be easy to listen in that way, so I would have to remain calm and lucid. I would need several friends with me, who are strong in the practice of deep listening, listening without reacting, without judging and blaming. In this way, an atmosphere of support would be created for this person and those connected so that they could share completely, trust that they are really being heard.

After listening for some time, we might need to take a break to allow what has been said to enter into our consciousness. Only when we felt calm and lucid would we respond. We would respond point by point to what had been said. We would respond gently but firmly in such a way to help them to discover their own misunderstandings so that they will stop violent acts from their own will….

Tu Hieu-final copy 2

Deep Listening Hut, constructed in homage to Thich Nhat Hanh, in his root (first) temple, Tu Hieu, Hue, Vietnam, photo by Skip Schiel (copyright), 1995

(Thanks to Louise Dunlap, Aravinda Ananda, and Joseph Rotella whose workshop on writing and The Work That Reconnects inspired this writing and several more possible blogs to follow.)

LINKS:

Thich Nhat Hanh on Compassionate Listening | Super Soul Sunday | Oprah Winfrey Network (short video)

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Can you suggest venues for my photographic presentations?

In this moment of escalating violence and burgeoning right wing Israeli politics, all my presentations address systemic injustice and some suggest strategies for transformation.

I have firm dates now for the California section of my West Coast tour, March 4 thru March 20 and for Alaska, March 22 thru April 5, 2016.

My most recent productions, all based on my three month spring 2015 trip, are:

Palestine_Israel-Nabi_Salih-Tamimi-Popular_Resistance-6495

Timeline Palestine & Israel, a narrated introduction to the history of the conflict, especially suited to audiences new to the issues

 

Palestine_Israel-Bil_in-Popular_Resistance-7071

The Freedom Bus Ride thru the West Bank, a cross section of oppression and resistance in key sites such as Tuwani, Bil’in, and Nabi Saleh, with special reference to the Freedom Ride in the USA

 

Nomika Zion, author of %22War Diary from Sderot,%22 written during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, the predecessor to the last war-1

Gaza’s Israel Neighbors: Other Voice, a movie in process about Jewish Israelis living within one mile of Gaza, heavily attacked, yet calling for negotiations rather than violence

 

Israeli military surveillance installationHoly Water: the Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea, demonstrating unequal water rights, a slideshow that combines the climate crisis, hydrology, and politics

 

Palestine_Israel-Jerusalem-7115

Palestinian Jerusalem, featuring the controversial March of Flags, this slide show-movie remaps Jerusalem to show the pervading inequalities in that historic city supposedly shared by Christians, Jews, and Muslims

 

So you can learn better what I offer, I’ve posted on YouTube a short (22 minute) video excerpting from my five most recent shows:

 

More photos, writings, and movies.

My full list of offerings for those who might not have seen it, indicating the newest works with an asterisk.

General Tour 2016 Announcement

I plan to put a calendar on line that will facilitate organizing. It will show open dates, and indicate where I expect to be in California at various times. This is in the works. At the moment all dates are open. I am particularly interested in visiting educational institutions, 6th grade and up.

I look forward to hearing from anyone with questions and invitations. Thanks to those considering hosting me and my art.

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Ban-Islam-son

 Ban al Ghussain, Islam Madhoun, and their son, from their Facebook page

After the Israeli assault on Gaza, yet another, probably the most damaging, with Palestinian deaths topping 2,100 and injuries 11,200, most of them civilian, more than 106,000 displaced in UN shelters and with host families, one half million children unable to begin the new school year, restricted electricity and severely threatened water supplies, and with 71 Israeli deaths, 66 of them soldiers, and Israel’s astronomical financial and political costs, after a cease-fire, I wrote some of my friends in or from Gaza. Knowing electricity is often limited to 3 hours daily, I’m even more appreciative for their replies (and for those from my Israeli friends, living in Sderot and Netif Ha’asara within one mile of Gaza and under attack, and another in Jaffa, threatened while protesting the violence):

Thank you very much for your loving wishes and mail …  love you so much. I really hope to see you soon (Ban al Ghussain)

Gaza_Mina_port_Ban

Thank you my friend, miss you. I hope everything going to fine after ceasefire, See u in Gaza closely (Islam Madhoun)

Israel-Palestine-Gaza-

I hate the fact that we reunite only after a devastation hits Gaza. However, it’s always nice to hear from you. You are missing a lot in here my friend. Thus, you should come over as soon as you can. Meanwhile, Keep safe. (Hisham Mhanna)

HishamFather_2499

Hisham with his father, 2012

Hi dude! I hope u r ok. we hope it will lead to a permanent solution. u are mostly welcome…..just tell me when u come to celebrate your coming. stay safe. (Muntaser Abu Kmeil)

Muntaser Facebook
From his Facebook page
 
Mr. Skip, Thanks a lot.. We trust Allah, everything will be okay in shaa Allah We will heal our pain . Thanks for sending me (Suhair Hajjaj)
 
Suhair my secondary school in  copy
Suhair’s secondary school in Shuheya
 
Thank you Skip for your lovely and compassionate support of Palestine. Actually, you are one of the people who made the Palestinian justice work more lively in New England Area and beyond. I hope our paths will cross again soon. (Ayman Nijim)
 
Ayman facebook
 
Here are two other articles offering perspectives, the first from Rana Alshami in Gaza:
 
Whatever was going on in Gaza for the past 51 days has finally ended. People can finally breathe, sleep, live! My family and I lived and experienced the worst of times, but we are still alive. We survived….
 
 
And from Alex Cane, a form of reality check:
 
The cease-fire that ended seven weeks of hell in Gaza is only two days old. But the countdown to the next round began as soon as the ink dried on the agreement between Israel and the Palestinian armed factions….
 
 
This is what I earlier wrote Gazan friends:
 
with you perhaps i celebrate the extended cease-fire. i’m sure you’re relieved that you can now return to a relatively safe location and situation. “relatively” is a tricky word. will the cease-fire lead to the end of the siege, reconstruction of gaza, and freedom and a just peace after so many years of suffering? i pray for all this and for you personally.
 
my most recent blog outlines what might happen, a fantasy which could become a world-shaking reality.
I hope to see you again sometime next year, inshallah.
 
Your enduring friend,

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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.

Potatoes1

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.

Baskin2

 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.

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In a Gaza hospital, photo by Skip Schiel

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Untreated sewage into the Mediterranean Sea, photo by Skip Schiel

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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

Mural2010Gaza_Schiel_7001

Gaza2010DSC_2562

Mother2010Gaza_Schiel_7032

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

LINKS

“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

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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

PHOTOS

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

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.

DAVID NIR

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).

—David

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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  

NOMIKA ZION

NomikaSderotGazaimg_2097

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.

Tnx,

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

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

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-Islam-son

Ban, Taym, and Islam in Gaza 
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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)

LINKS

“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

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If you reside in the Boston Metro area, I’d like to invite you to Cambridge Open Studios, a rich smorgasbord of art displayed in homes and public venues thruout the city of Cambridge Massachusetts. If not in the Boston area, you can find many of my photos on my website.

OpenStudios2014Poster2OpenStudios2014Poster2

 

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