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As part of my two continuing journeys to Detroit and Palestine-Israel, during this 3 week trip to the Detroit area to photograph Detroit Down & Up, I will give photo presentations in Ohio. If you live in this area I hope you can attend one of my shows. Or if you know people living in the region of Toledo and slightly south of there, perhaps you can circulate this information. Thank you and special gratitude to local hosts and organizers.

—Skip

March 22, Sat, Hope Lutheran church, 430 pm, Bethlehem slide show

March 23, Sun, University of Toledo, 1 pm, Eyewitness Gaza slide show
maybe meet informally with Quakers that evening

March 24, Mon, 8 am, Tiffin University, Timeline slide show, to a class
12:30, Tiffin University, Hydropolitics slide show, to a class
6:30 pm, Fremont, Eyewitness Gaza,

March 25, Tues, 9:30 am, video interview about Gaza
11-11:50 am, Heidelberg University, Eyewitness Gaza slide show, to the student body
12:30, lunch with Catholic sisters, my choice of program, probably Gaza

Toledo Ohio area

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The caravan of stars
Proceeds without a whisper or a sound;
Mountain, forest, river,
All in lull;
Nature seems lost in contemplation.
O heart, you too be still.
Hold thy grief to thy bosom, and sleep!

—Mhammad Iqbal

Excerpts from my journal during a fall 1012 West Coast tour about Israel & Palestine 

PHOTOS

Ferry: Juneau to Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska

September 21, 2012, Friday, on the fast ferry to Sitka from Juneau

 Cool, probably in the 40s, foggy.

The Sitka trip offers soft time, time between the presentations I make. The ferry ride is about 4 hours, nothing much to do other than write this journal entry, photograph from the ship thru the fog and as the fog lifts (which presents opportunities for light-based photography), finish the first set of Alaska photos (flight), revise shows, read mail, etc. And then when I can connect with the internet, post the first photo set and do more Israel-Palestine research.

Currently we are in and out of fog. The early morning fog was so thick Elaine worried the ferry might be postponed. Flights are often cancelled. The region is highly weather-dependent, one of its many gifts. I so enjoy Alaska—short term, dropping in to be more directly earth-connected, and then returning to my much-loved city life in the east.

As I entered Alaska after a 12-hour series of flights from my home in Cambridge I slowed down. As I entered the Schroeder home where I will live for 2 weeks I slowed down further (except to revise slide shows). As I boarded the ferry I slowed down even further, and then with the delay to Sitka I am nearly at a standstill. Very calm, tranquil, unworried.

Except for 2 factors: the shows themselves, their quality, how audiences will respond, and T, what I mean to her, she to me.

About one hour ago, the ship shook and shuddered, nearly bounced in the water. Elaine, in the women’s bathroom, emerged to check. She looked shocked. Others stopped their reading and eating. I was standing and instinctively ducked when the ship shook.

We had hit submerged debris that has now stuck in one of the 4 water jets. Trying different maneuvers such as reversing direction, blowing the water forward, the captain attempts to eject the debris. So far, no luck. A long ride made longer. At least he gives us up-to-date and I hope honest information.

September 22, 2012, Saturday, home of L, Sitka

Cool, probably in the low 50s, fog in the mountains, half clear in the town.

I sit at a long wooden table in the spacious second story living space (living-dining-cooking combined) of an elegant 2 story home built high on a hill overlooking the water and mountains. The high plateau was first inhabited by Russian pioneers—white inhabitants, not sure if natives lived here—since the early 1700s.

Our host, L, is a short demure woman, probably Jewish (her mother from Russia), who works as a clinical director, former teacher (so Elaine and L have much in common). Her husband, in Arizona to be qualified for a municipal job, is a company executive. She sculpts, he paints, their house is a model of fine artistry, the building itself and what’s on the walls and shelves.

The ferry was about one hour late because the captain never succeeded to eject the debris that clogged one of the water jets. Subsequently several Sitka residents complained about these new fast ferries, beset with numerous problems, a law suit pending from the state of Alaska against the German company who designed and built the ships.

Last evening we attended a dinner, maybe generated by my presence, altho no one asked me to speak to the group, and one fellow, Don the ACLU lawyer, had no idea who I was or why I was at the dinner. For me the most engaging conversation—all were, it was a politically savvy group as far as I could determine, hovering around a rather dormant peace and justice group that Don and Cindy, our 2 hosts and local organizers—was about the human-non human animal connection. A young woman sitting next to me with an engaging giggle, married to a dour fellow, Beth’s son (one year in Nablus might do that to anyone) works with what she calls “sustainable ag,” meaning good practices agriculture, related how important bonding is to humane slaughter. An odd combo of feelings and actions indeed. I told the Lakota story of White Buffalo Calf Woman as an illustration of human-animal interaction.

Previously Don had escorted us on a walk thru Totem Park, which I’d explored in 1988 as part of my camping-biking excursion during my first Alaskan exploit. Don, Elaine, and I observed spawning salmon, laboring upstream to deposit their eggs in cavities they’d shaped in the sand and gravel, then to die. Males fertilize the eggs and also die. We heard eagles, observed very tall magnificent hemlock and spruce trees with exposed upper roots (they grow on “nurse trees,” fallen trees that provide nutrients while they rot away), smelled the decomposing salmon, and I imagined being an Indian long ago—or just a few days ago.

September 23, 2012, Sunday, home of L, Sitka, Alaska

Cool, probably in the low 50s, fog in the mountains, overcast with altocumulus in the town, rain last evening.

One dream in a period of paucity: I watched a movie which might also have been reality. The filmmaker or protagonist was about to torture a man to death. He used a portable circular saw, AKA buzz saw, and planned—I’m not sure how the audience or I knew his intention, maybe he announced it as part of the torture regime—to begin at feet and slowly move up. He would saw or buzz off the victim’s genitals. I knew also the response of the victim: to absorb it, not be terrified by it. I was both victim and torturer.

Yesterday Don and Cindy took Elaine and me hiking in the Beaver Lake area, driving past the old pulp mill site (which Don helped close down by his revelations about the pollution the mill generated) to reach the trailhead. We hiked into thick forest, trees taller than any in the northeast, up grade to Beaver Lake, around the lake, passing thru a landslide area created one year ago and that was recently cleared using dynamite, into a muskeg plateau where we joked about the word suggesting a beverage, and back. Hard work, hard on my arthritic knees, a few photos.

Don and I reminisced about our Cambodia pilgrimage in 1995. He remembered one of the international walkers railing against the noise in the wats [temples]. He returns regularly and plans a long solo bike ride next year thru much of Cambodia. Re-meeting Don after nearly 20 years is one of the big pluses of this journey. Also connecting with activists. Elaine and Cindy discussed meeting in Juneau to coordinate actions. Another plus of this journey.

Along with what I learn about where I visit. Instance: Sitka is among the 5 most active ports in the entire country, commercial and sport fishing mostly.

In the evening we attended a benefit dinner for RESULTS-The Power to End Poverty, a lobbying organization for progressive causes like micro lending. The keynote speaker was the founder of FINCA, a micro-lending group that postdated the Grameen bank by about 8 years. We ate Moroccan food catered by Ludvig’s, said by some to be the best restaurant in all of the States. I was not impressed with the cuisine, might have made better myself.

I learned that L’s father had been a Jewish army photographer who was part of the liberation of the Nazi death camps. Traumatized and tortured by what he saw and showed, he became obsessed about his experience, put his photos all around the house, and said repeatedly, we can’t let this holocaust happen again.

I asked her what her turning points were, how even tho raised Jewish, she became an activist for Palestinian rights. She admitted to an early fondness for Israel, but as she learned more about its policies, slowly ended her unqualified support. She’s never visited. As Elaine noticed, 2 of the 3 most politically active people we’ve met so far in Sitka are Jewish, L and Cindy. Contrasting with Juneau where none of the activists Elaine knows are Jewish.

One major snag: inexplicably (but this is the way of computers), my Dreamweaver [software for website design and maintenance] won’t work. So presently I have no access to my website, can’t update the itinerary, or post photos. Yesterday I downloaded a copy and hope to successfully install it this morning. All will work out I’m sure.

LINKS

Results, The Power to End Poverty

Alaska Marine Highway System

Tour itinerary

With an Open Heart, Israel & Palestine—Report of a west coast tour, fall 2012

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Qattan Center for the Child, Gaza City, Occupied Palestine, November 2010

Pulverizing salvaged stone and concrete for new building materials,
Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestine, December 2010

Gaza is Home to 1.5 Million Human Beings: How Do They Live? a photographic exhibition

June 22-July 20, 2011

Weston Priory
58 Priory Hill Road, Weston, VT 05161-6400
802-824-5409

The Benedictine Monks of Weston Priory, VT

Jean Carr
jecarr2 (at) tds.net

Eyewitness Gaza, a slide show

June 23, 2011 6:30 pm dinner
7:30 show

Cleveland Friends Meeting House
10916 Magnolia Dr.
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Cleveland Peace Action

Details of the programs

Elizzabeth Schiros
216-231-4245
clevelandpeaceaction (at) gmail.com

Informal program about Palestine-Israel (tentative)

June 26, Sunday morning (contact for details)

Cleveland Friends Meeting House
10916 Magnolia Dr.
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Cleveland Friends Meeting (Religious Society of Friends, aka Quakers)

Elizzabeth Schiros
216-231-4245
clevelandpeaceaction (at) gmail.com

Eyewitness Gaza, a slide show

July 31, 2011

First Parish of Sudbury
327 Concord Road, Sudbury, MA 01776
978-443-2043

First Parish of Sudbury, Unitiarian Universaliist

Tom Arnold
978-697-8255
tba1959 (at) comcast.net

Eyewitness Gaza, a slide show

December 5, 2011, Monday, 7-9 pm

St. Susanna Parish
262 Needham St., Dedham MA
781-329-9575

St Susanna Parish
Peace and Justice Committee

Pat Ferrone
PatFerrone (at) rcn.com

FALL SOUTHERN TOUR, OCTOBER 9 – NOVEMBER 11, 2011—seeking venues

SUN Oct 9th- SAT Oct 15th North Carolina
SUN Oct 16th-SAT Oct 22nd South Carolina/Georgia
SUN Oct 23rd-SAT Oct 29th Georgia/Alabama/Florida
SUN Oct 30th-SAT Nov 5th Florida
SUN Nov 6th-FRI Nov 11th Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, New Orleans

David Matos (in South Carolina)
skipschieltour (at) gmail.com
803-215-3263

WINTER WEST COAST TOUR, JANUARY & FEBRUARY 2012 (tentative)—seeking venues

California to Alaska

skipschiel (at) gmail.com

RETURN TO PALESTINE & ISRAEL, MARCH – MAY 2012 (tentative)

In early January 2011 I returned from my 5th journey to Gaza. I have new shows to present to audiences. If interested in organizing a show or for information about content and availability, please contact me at schiel (at) ccae.org. For a catalog of my current shows.

In early summer (June 14 – 30, 2011) I’ll tour the Midwest including Chicago, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Cleveland. For a prospectus. And I tour the south in the fall of 2011. Prospectus here. Please look here for details as I learn them.

Hosting agreement

Fuse Visual Arts Review: “Gaza in Photographs—Up Close and Personal” (by Sarah Correia)

Thanks for your concern.

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The Rising of the Light:

Photography by Skip Schiel from Israel and the Occupied Territories of Palestine

October 11 – November 1, 2010

We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

—Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Apsara Warrior, by Ouk Chim Vichet, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Art Museum _6437.jpg

Apsara Warrior, by Ouk Chim Vichet, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Art Museum

I am very grateful to all who organized and hosted for me on this tour. Without them and many others I’d not be able to do the little I’ve accomplished. I am immeasurably grateful. Unfortunately, a few who promised venues did not follow thru—usually for unexplained but I’m sure understandable reasons. Maybe next time.

—Skip

The journey—intentions, problems, meaning, and achievements?

Three weeks in the Midwest, the hinterland, mostly Cleveland, Detroit, Ann Arbor Michigan, Tiffin Ohio, and Chicago and suburbs. At 2 conferences, 1 mosque, 1 Islamic high school, 2 public high schools, 1 neighborhood center, and 2 Friends meetings. Details here.  Showing Dismantling the Matrix of Control, Gaza Steadfast, and The Hydropolitics of Israel-Palestine, also with the photo exhibitions, Gaza is Home to 1.5 Million Human Beings: How Do They Live? and Living Female in a Zone of Conflict. To approximately 600 people in live audiences, including children as young as 7 years and elders older than me—and an unknown number at former, current and future exhibitions.

AFSC_Schiel_6551.jpg

Gaza and Living Female exhibits at AFSC Chicago

My tour organizer and I found fewer venues than we’d anticipated, perhaps our lack of Midwest contacts or the economy or poor timing. At some venues, notably in Cleveland, the audiences were small (10-15 people) and relatively quiet. While in others, the 2 conferences and the Friends meeting, audiences were larger (100-200) and seemed more engaged. People frequently encouraged me to return.

The audiences were mostly welcoming, with a few exceptions—someone at a mosque misinterpreted my Gaza slide show to be siding with Israel, propounding its point of view. A man shut down that show. Later several participants from the mosque apologized and told me this man did not speak for their community. In addition a Jewish adversary from the Boston area, long critical of me, sent a letter to key leaders of a suburban community claiming I was partisan against Israel and worse. The high school at which I was to appear canceled my presentation. Local organizers felt this was not in response to the letter, but to what they thought were my slanted views displayed without sufficient context. No easy road—threading thru a tortured terrain.

I’ve lost friends and supporters as I’ve photographically engaged with Palestine/Israel. And I’ve gained many new ones, especially on this last tour.

Not to take sides is to effectively weigh in on the side of the stronger.

—William Sloan Coffin, Credo

I connected with various people in the progressive Jewish movement who are in the forefront of Jewish activism about Palestine/Israel. I co-presented with Mark Braverman (author of Fatal Embrace, Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land, highly recommended) in Tiffin OH, Rabbi Michael Davis in Downers Grove IL, and Rabbi Brant Rosen (co-founder of Fast for Gaza and the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace) of the Evanston Illinois Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation. The Chicago regional office of the American Friends Service Committee’s Mideast program honored Rabbi Rosen, Shirien Damra (a Muslim American graduate student organizer for Palestinian rights), and me with their annual Inspiration for Hope award.

Zionism always was, despite strategically motivated denials and brief flirtations with other objectives [e.g., bi-nationalism], an attempt to establish Jewish sovereignty over Palestine. This project was illegitimate. Neither history nor religion, nor the sufferings of Jews in the Nazi era, sufficed to justify it. It posed a mortal threat to the Palestinians, and it left no room for meaningful compromise. Given that the Palestinians had no way to overcome Zionism peacefully, it also justified some form of violent resistance.

—Neumann, Michael: The Case Against Israel

The Muslim and Arab communities are on the rise, organizing and participating in events like mine, and boldly speaking out against injustices in Palestine/Israel. Potentially they form a funding and political bloc which could influence the course of events in the Mideast.

IMG_6568.jpg

Various activists housed and fed me, treating me to tours of their regions. Hospitality seemed limitless, as did love, commitment, and appreciation. Hosts and organizers taught me about issues local to their region, and what’s being done. For example, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor I attended what I call The Red Shirt Affair, a dramatic opposition to a campaign by Israel to rebrand itself by sending current and former soldiers to campuses to propound views supportive of Israel. (Photos here, included in part 1 and part 2 of a 2 part series of my photos from the trip. )

Israel soldier protest, U of Michigan, Ann Arbor_6502.jpg

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

As if riding thru neighborhoods and homes on a railroad train, I sampled lives as I tunneled thru.

A highlight was exploring my hometown of Chicago—childhood on the Southside and high school years in the northwest suburb of Arlington Heights. Roots and influences. A rich heritage. I hope to return soon to this vibrant and often overlooked sector of the nation.

Cabrini_Green_.jpg

Security officer, Cabrini Green, Chicago

Confirming the observations of others in the United States, I’ve noticed a shift in perception about Palestine/Israel. People are more willing to criticize Israel, demand the application of international law, understand the complicity of the United States government in fostering the oppression, and most importantly (thanks in large part to Mark Braverman) realize that the silence of the Christian church community enables Mideast horrors to continue. As evidenced by the people I’ve mentioned, Jews and Muslims and Arabs play a major role in this perceptual and activist shift, standing up for human rights despite the opprobrium this generates in their own communities.

Detroit_6472.jpg

Prison, Detroit

Detroit_6545.jpg

My temporary neighborhood in Detroit

My main hope for this journey was to broadcast as widely as possible my images and stories collected over the past 7 years, enhancing the struggle for Palestinian dignity, human rights, and justice, while acknowledging the suffering and rights of Jews and others in that region. And to do this by concentrating on international law, holding accountable all parties in the conflict.

Both Israel and Hamas have failed to meet their obligations under international law to conduct credible and independent investigations [into the assault on Gaza by Israel named Operation Cast Lead from late 2008 to early 2009]. “The Human Rights Council must therefore assess these domestic proceedings and report accordingly to the UN General Assembly and Security Council,” said [Wilder Tayler, Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists]. “The Security Council must take concrete and robust measures to ensure accountability for the perpetrators and justice for victims, and to this end consider the options at its disposal to break the cycle of impunity prevalent in this conflict, including by referring the situation in Gaza to the International Criminal Court,” concluded Tayler.

—International Commission of Jurists, September 2010

Now I bear down on plans for another trip: Gaza for 6 weeks, mainly to teach photography thru the AFSC and to make photos, in the context of a movie being made about Gaza and my photographic work there.

I’ll be blogging and posting photos on my website, so please consider signing up for the Levant list below if you’ve not already.

Levant email list: please write skipschiel (at) gmail (dot) com with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

Website: teeskaphoto.org

Articles:

Conference seeks to clarify Israeli, Palestinian hostilities, by MaryAnn Kromer

Cleveland Report: Space for Everyone… “New Jim Crow & 4 Apartheids” by Kim Hall

Video: Students stage intense, silent, nonviolent protest as IDF soldier appears at University of Michigan in PR campaign (“The Red Shirt Affair”)

Article about “The Red Shirt Affair” in the Arab American News, Ann Arbor M

Tour Prospectus

The prophets do not offer reflections about ideas in general. Their words are onslaughts, scuttling illusions of false security, challenging evasions, calling faith to account, questioning prudence and impartiality.

—Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets

Morton_Arboretum_Downers_Grove_6570.jpg

Morton Arboretum, Downers Grove IL

All we want is to be ordinary.

—Mohmoud Darwish, the late Palestinian poet

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What
When
Where
Venue
More information
Dismantling the Matrix of Control, a slide show about Palestine-Israel
Oct 13, Wed, 7 PM
2728 Lancashire Road
216-932-1898 Cleveland Hts, OH
Space for Everyone: Examining Four Apartheids
Unitarian Unversalist Society of Cleveland
email.donbryant@gmail.com
don@immigrantsupportnetwork.org
617-441-7756 (home)/617-230-6314 (mobile)
schiel (at) ccae.org
Dismantling the Matrix of Control, a slide show about Palestine-Israel
Oct 14, Thurs, 7 PM
4427 Franklin Blvd
216- 651-6250
Cleveland, OH
Space for Everyone: Examining Four Apartheids
St. Paul’s Community Church
email.donbryant@gmail.com
don@immigrantsupportnetwork.org
617-441-7756 (home)/617-230-6314 (mobile)
schiel (at) ccae.org
Opening photo presentation: Dismantling the Matrix of Control
Workshop: The Hydropolitics of Palestine-Israel
Oct 23, Sat, 9 AM- 4:30
Tiffin, Ohio
Israel/Palestine: Pathways to Peace conference
Jo Hollingsworth, wjh@filmtecinc.com
Photo exhibit, Gaza is Home to 1.5 Million Human Beings-How do They Live?
Thru mid October
Fostoria, OH
Fostoria Community Arts Council gallery
Photo exhibit, Gaza is Home to 1.5 Million Human Beings-How do They Live?Gaza Steadfast & a slide show,
Oct 24, Sun, 1-4 PM
The Irish American Heritage Center 4626 N Knox Ave Chicago, IL See map: Google Maps
The American Friends Service Committee’s Middle East Program Fundraiser
Miryam Rashid (mrashid@afsc.org), Jennifer Bing-Canar (jbing-canar@afsc.org) or Karen Light (klight@afsc.org) with any questions.
Invitation (PDF)
Slide show about Palestine & Israel
Oct 25, Mon
Chicago area
Private Muslim girls’ school
Not open to the public
Photo exhibit, Gaza is Home to 1.5 Million Human Beings-How do They Live?Gaza Steadfast & a slide show,
Oct 26, Tues
6:30 View photo exhibit and mingle (Bring a pot-luck snack to share, if you wish.)
7:15 Program begins
8:15 Questions and discussion
Downers Grove Friends Meeting House
(same location, NEW Meeting House!)
5710 Lomond Avenue
Downers Grove, IL
Windows Into Gaza: Two Voices United for Peace
Lillian Moats, 630-852-9741
Daniel Kaplan, kapland88@gmail.com
Flyer
Various slide shows with background information
Oct 27, Wed
Oak Park, IL
Oak Park High School, Middle East classes
Not open to the public
Photo exhibit, Gaza is Home to 1.5 Million Human Beings-How do They Live?
Nov 6 – 22
Milwaukee WI
Marguette University student union gallery
Photo exhibit, Gaza is Home to 1.5 Million Human Beings-How do They Live?
December, exact dates TBD
600 S. Michigan Ave
Chicago
Columbia College Chicago
Prospectus
617-441-7756
schiel (at) ccae.org

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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

MULTIMEDIA PRESENTATIONS

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

SLIDE SHOWS

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

MORE ABOUT SKIP SCHIEL

Website

Blog

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

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Excerpts from my journal while touring the southern United States with new photographs and stories. The main shows are Gaza Steadfast, Bethlehem the Holy, The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, and Quakers in Palestine/Israel. (I’ve completed the tour and I’m now happily at home in Cambridge Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.)

PHOTOS

VIDEO: Feet, Shoes & Boots, Winter Holiday Vacation, 2009

November 24, 2009, Tuesday, Cambridge:

Home at last, god almighty, I’m home at last. The day after. Feeling good.

These dreams to celebrate: watching Y—very clearly Y for a change, not some stand in—walking thru a park, maybe Dana, on her regular morning solo walk. Tempted to join her since we’d not seen each other for some long time, I resisted, knowing she’d rather be alone. I’ll greet her later.

And a 2nd dream, about my home, one room in a 2-room home. A new couple was moving in, I met them, along with the couple moving out. I did not relish the thought of sharing a home—would I have privacy? I noticed the man moving in was in a wheel chair and considered his difficulty getting to his portion of the house. Up a landing and thru my room.

My home is familiar to me, for a short while pleasingly familiar: the paths I use to reach different parts of my small home (700 sq ft), where I store things, my various routines such as the one I used this morning to make an omelet, how the bed feels, where I meditate, when and how I exchange clothes between hot and cold seasons, where I bathe, and endless other paths and routines I use to exist day to day. All familiar to me. Whereas I’ve just returned from daily encounters with novelty.

The train ride yesterday [November 23, 2009] felt long, 24 hours roughly, Atlanta to Boston. The train on time, a private seat so I could spread out during the day, as opposed to the night when I shared my seat with a woman I learned later came from Liberia. She and I were instantly friendly, especially when I announced yesterday morning early as she was stretching awake, you can have both seats now. And there in the café car I sat for most of the morning, until noon and DC. She brought me my reading glasses which I’d left at the seat.

I found an Internet connection at the Corner Café in the DC Amtrak station as I awaited my train to Boston, ate a muffin (banana and not my favored chocolate), sipped strong coffee (my 2nd or 3rd cup), and did some email. I avoided going outside, not wishing to carry my heavy black equipment bag. And the weather was cold and wet, as it was all the way between Atlanta and Boston. E wrote asking when I was returning, which led to a fantasy about her then writing to ask if I needed a ride from the train station, to which I’d reply, sure, and that would eventually and ineluctably lead to an intimate experience.

I made my way home from South Station alone, lugging all my gear thru the wet drizzle, and eventually mounting the stairs, shedding my clothing, firing up my erotic imagination, and settling in.

How would I assess the tour overall? Splendid, a qualified success. Decent shows, reasonably large audiences, warm response, equipment held up, Dave did a passable job, and the tour ended brilliantly at SOA Watch, with the Gaza Steadfast show to a large enthusiastic group. This bodes well not only for my photo work but for the topics I try to illuminate—for this trip, mainly Gaza. I should report this to my friends back home in Gaza. The main problem was finding venues in Louisiana and Mississippi, many open dates. We’ll try again next year, do better.

Tuned to Y: thru our mutual South African friend, SF, who wrote me recently; thru the SOA Watch which she in turn tuned to; thru the Nipponzan Myohoji theology and practice and people we share; thru activism (she wrote recently about joining a demo at University of California Berkeley over tuition increases and brutal treatment by the administration); thru Ella and family generally; on and on. One wonders, aren’t we meant to be couple? Answer: guess not.

Today: slowly unpack, relishing every second of it, slowly check off the various duties I now have ranging from replacing my Boston public transport (T) elder pass (which I lost) to editing more slide shows from last summer’s photos. I might call Katy to see about meeting her and Ella at school today, assuming school is in session (it’s Thanksgiving week).

November 26, 2009, Thursday, Cambridge:

One major dream to start us off: after some event requiring lots of folding chairs, I offered to help fold and store them. This required acrobatics—we had to fling ourselves out into space, grabbing the hand of a new partner, holding on for life itself; crawl thru constricted spaces; climb up and down narrow stairs; while a couple sitting to one side, not participating, asked us inanely, how are you?

I was impressed with my abilities, my agility, strength, perseverance. The older me strode gaily with the youngest and strongest.

Which is what happened on the pilgrimage I attended capping my southern tour, and how I felt in comparison with the young ones who tended to unexpectedly fail from various physical problems. I’d worried about my legs, that they might ache, be weak, not carry me long walking distances. They not only succeeded but seemed to heal. After walking, resting, sitting, sleeping, they felt back to normal—I can live up to my earlier moniker, earned walking the Auschwitz to Hiroshima pilgrimage in 1995, Iron Man.

The weather has been dark, cool, misty. Neither winter nor autumn, an in-between time. And today is Thanksgiving, snow not anticipated, far from it. The leaves have mostly fallen, revealing new patterns of vegetation (the weed growing amidst my rose bush for instance). Garden hoses in the community garden are stashed, which probably also means the city turned off the water. I missed gardening this summer because of my Israel-Palestine journey. And I look forward to the garden for next season, realizing that I might be able to persuade grandkids to help with it and learn.

Next summer I will be 69 yrs old, 4 years my own father’s senior when he died, 6 years my mother’s, assuming I survive past my birthday which is coming in about one week.

Being home and beginning again has been unadulterated joy: no deadline, virtually no schedule, fit in the tasks I love doing, one at a time, like opening mail, while making way for more onerous tasks like cleaning the house that demand doing, all the while relishing truly precious tasks like shifting my computer setup and beginning editing slide shows. This is sheer spontaneity, when the muses are at their best. They have free rein. They are happy.

I’ve begun a report of the tour, sketching out ideas first, and these I based on yesterday’s lunch conversation with Ken when he seemed genuinely interested in hearing from me. Main points, such as audience response, venues, etc (unlike many who say, oh Skip, you’re home, I can’t wait to hear all about your trip, and then either try to listen but slip away to other topics, or never find the time even to try.). As usual, asking him about himself, his response was, oh, about the same, nothing new, same old stuff. Which means lots of reading about the holocaust, plus attending some Israel-Palestine events.

I also updated my itinerary to more accurately reflect what happened. This will be a good public record of my tour, the details.

I nearly didn’t arrive home by train when I’d hoped. In New Haven CT I made the serious mistake of misinterpreting the train-boarding announcement. I was standing on the platform, enjoying the air and the space, when a woman’s voice called, all aboard, last call. I assumed this was meant for folks in the waiting room, not on the platform. A conductor walked by and I asked him a question I’ve now forgotten, when I noticed the train doors closing and the train moving. Holy shit, I yelled, it’s leaving without me! Can you stop the train? He called on his radio, the train slowed, I ran after it, it stopped. The door didn’t open, I pounded on the door, and then I saw a conductor about 4 cars ahead waiting for me. I ran, apologized, found my car, my seat, all my gear. What a disaster that would have been. What if the conductor had not happened by when he did? I’d be stuck in New Haven, most of my luggage on the train—all by itself.

All because I’d misheard—again—and wrongly assumed—again. These 2 factors seem present in most mistakes I make. I concluded that my mischievous tricksters were at it again, playing with me. They are probably my muses with a playful nature. They know how easily misled I am. They play games with me. I never seem to learn.

End with a perplexing thought about love: suppose B and I were to become a couple, suppose she wished to live and work somewhere else, Germany, Oregon, Gaza. What would I decide? Would I be willing to leave my entire life in Cambridge and New England to be with the one I loved?

Or suppose I insisted on staying here while she wished to move elsewhere? What might she decide?

Is this sort of thinking useful, does it accomplish anything? Two answers: it is pure fantasy, compulsion, sickness of the heart, longing, yearning, disgusting, a waste of time. Or it is productive, a thought experiment, useful for engaging the imagination and supposing what if, stretching the mind, preparing for a possibility.

As I imagine another in bed with me, cuddling, or with my family, eating turkey with dressing, or on tour with me in the south or with me in Israel-Palestine, or me with her in let us imagine Bosnia, photographing together. Why not? Such imagination is free and fun. Or even in a photographic workshop I teach, maybe Winter Light to the far reaches of the Blue Hills in the cold and snow, stranded. Why not imagine it?

Free and fun.

LINKS:

Video: Viva Palestina Convoy Arrives in Gaza

On the Road: a report of the southern photographic tour, October 17 – November 23, 2009

Detailed itinerary of southern tour

Seeking venues: Upcoming New England tour with recent photos from Palestine & Israel

Slide show Gaza Steadfast screens February 7, 2010 in Cambridge MA

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