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Gaza photographer relates ‘unjust suffering’ to students

Dead corpses lying in the street, screaming children covered with blood, demolished houses, fear and terror are what silenced the crowd that came to see how people live in the land of troubles.

Skip Schiel, a professional filmmaker and photographer, allowed the university’s population to be eyewitnesses to the Gaza region through the lenses of his camera.

He presented his experiences from his last trip to Gaza in January 2008 on a visit to campus Feb. 13 by way of a dynamic PowerPoint presentation consisting of lively images and actual dialogues between he and his Palestinian friends.

While in Gaza, Schiel took thousands of pictures, from which the most meaningful are being shown on his tour.

The Muslim Student Association at UNF and the Council on American-Islamic Relations worked together to bring Schiel’s presentation to UNF.

Umair Hussain, Akbar Alam and Bilal Hussain who are all members of the MSA, agree that the “media skew things” and their attempt is to bring an insight into what is really going on in Palestine. They agreed there is no right or wrong answer.

The current situation in Gaza can be summarized in two words: unjust suffering. It is very important to take action through visiting the sites, joining the boycott, paying attention and especially trying to understand the situation, Schiel said.

“It is a disproportionate ratio of one Israeli to a hundred Palestinians killed – decide for yourself [who is suffering unjustly],” he said.

Schiel offered time for the audience to share their thoughts and impressions once the presentation was over. He brought back the idea with which he started the exhibit: What would the international court say if this issue went in front of it?

Some members of the audience attempted to answer the question, however, only one side appeared to be represented. Arabs – many who fled Gaza – were now sitting in the audience and reminiscing about their homeland that is now nothing but a pile of shattered glass and concrete.

“Radical supporters of Israel usually turn around right away,” Schiel said.

He explained his experience is that these people have “either never been to Gaza or never been to Palestine.”

Bombed Palestinian ambulances, schools, kindergartens, hospitals and other health facilities is an everyday reality for the Palestinians living in Gaza.

Part of the post-exhibit discussion pertained to the support the U.S. is offering to Israel while Palestinians are asking: “Do other U.S. citizens know their government supplies Israel with weapons without

Among others, Schiel also visited the apparent site of the 2003 killing of American citizen Rachel Corrie, a young woman working in the city of Rafah who lost her life while trying to block an Israeli bulldozer from destroying a family home in Gaza.

“Try to stay not political,” Hussain said, “and be as unbiased as possible. [It’s the] only way you can really know what is happening in Palestine.”

E-mail Andrea Farah at [email protected].

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