News from the Levant photo project

—Skip Schiel—

August 2005


injured in Gaza by an Israeli sniper

Since summer 2003, when as a photographer I was uncertain about how to travel to Israel and Palestine (IP)—the Levant—I've journeyed there twice and completed several projects and garnered some audience.


First trip with Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) for two weeks in October-November 2003

Second trip volunteering photography for various organizations in IP, September-January 2005

Three completed slide shows, Facts on the Ground, Occupation: Ordinary Life, and Start Young and one anticipated for December 2005, In the Steps of the Magi

One exhibit, Paired Photographs from the Levant, leading to a self published book by the same title

And the use of my photos by organizations in IP such as the Ramallah Friends School, Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, Rabbis for Human Rights, Birzeit University, and the Palestinian National Water Authority, as well as State-side organizations like Fellowship of Reconciliation and several Friends groups like Quaker Life

I travel and produce photos and writings with what I hope is an open heart, open to a wide variety of experiences and viewpoints. Thru photography and writing, I hope to stimulate others to pursue a conversation about the region awash in conflict, alive with potential, and then play a role, however slender, in fostering peace and justice.

Christian Peacemaker assisting shepherds in the south Hebron hills

Light draws me: the physical light, all aglow, produced in large measure by the reflecting limestone so pervasive in the Mediterranean region, and the light of wisdom, millennia of wisdom teachers whose messages so far have failed to open our ears and eyes so that we may quell the violence and stop the injustice.

I plan to return in spring of 2006 for 3-4 months, extending my experience and scope, photographing primarily for the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, Palestinian National Water Authority, American Friends Service Committee in Ramallah and Gaza, Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, and Ramallah Friends School. On my second trip I worked extensively with each organization and they've expressed a desire for me to return. As before I'll lean heavily on FOR, AFSC and Quakers generally for support and guidance. My themes will be the occupation, how it works, fear and its causes, and beneficial responses to these two facts on the ground.

With these photos divided between the sponsoring organizations (I plan again to volunteer, ask only for hospitality and guidance, not money) and my own collection, I hope to aid them and their work and in the States tell and show the story of struggle and hope to a woefully ignorant but influential audience.

Israeli soldier helping harvest Palestinian olives,
organized by Rabbis for Human Rights

…the death of any child means the death of the whole world. "Satan has not yet devised a Vengeance for the death of a young child" said the Jewish poet Bialik, and that is not because Satan has no means to do so, but because after the death of a child there is no more death for there is no more life. The child takes the war and the future of the war into his little grave to rest with his little bones…

—Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, 2001 C.


Exhibits, Slide Showings, &
Publications of Levant materials


(Consisting of the photo exhibit Paired Photographs from the Levant, the slide shows, Facts on the Ground, Occupation: Ordinary Life, Start Young & In the Steps of the Magi, and various publications)


University of Maine, Farmington ME, Paired Photos from the Levant, September 2004

Friends Meeting at Cambridge, Cambridge MA, Paired Photos (3 of olive harvest in group show about food), summer 2005

Bryant College, Smithfield RI, New England Yearly Meeting sessions, Paired Photos (group show), August 2005

Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge MA, Paired Photos, upcoming in December-January 2006


Juneau Peace Committee, Juneau AK, Facts, January 2004

Juneau middle school, Juneau, AK, Facts, January 2004

Friends Meeting at Cambridge, Facts, 2004, Occupation, April 2005

Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Cambridge MA, Facts on the Ground, 2004, Occupation, May 2005

Robeson Social Justice Institute, Social Justice Education, Jamaica Plain MA, Start Young, July 2005

Berkeley Zen Center, Berkeley CA, Start Young, upcoming in September 2005

Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, In the Steps of the Magi, upcoming in December 2005


Paired Photographs from the Levant, self published book, 2004

Birzeit University, Right to Education Campaign, Birzeit Palestine, 2004

Living Another Possibility, by Fellowship of Reconciliation, contributed photographs to the booklet, 2004

Ramallah Friends School, Ramallah Palestine, contributed photos for the annual Christmas card, December 2004

Fellowship magazine (FOR), interview and photos about Mordechai Vanunu, January 2005

Interfaith PeaceBuilders website, by FOR, photos, 2005


New England Yearly Meeting sessions, Bryant College, Smithfield RI, the keynote presentation "And You Will Be Carried Where You Do Not Wish to Go," which incorporated images from Palestine and Israel, August 2005

Extensive development of a website with photos and writing from the two journeys—

 (August 2005)