International photographer speaks at NIU

By Robert Baird

International photojournalist Gil Cohen-Magen came to NIU Wednesday to share his experiences covering conflicts in the Middle East.

Cohen-Magen exclusively covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and worked for the multinational news agency Reuters from 2000 to 2010. His presentation, “Shooting Under Fire,” covered several photos taken by Cohen-Magen and a brief National Geographic video called “Shooting Under Fire,” which featured Cohen-Magen and his photographical work in the Middle East.

“This is my fourth time visiting the United States,” Cohen-Magen said. “After I published my book, they [NIU] invited me here.”

Cohen-Magen published his book “Hassidic Courts” in late 2011.

“In 2010, I left Reuters to do something different,” he said. “I wanted to publish my book.”

His book features images of the Hassidic (a specific branch of Orthodox Judaism) communities of Israel, a private project he began in 2001. It compiles 10 years of his work.

Daniel Gethner, NIU’s Israel Education Center intern and a sophomore finance major, helped coordinated the event with the assistance of the Israel Education Center, the Hillel Jewish Youth Group and the Jewish United Fund.

“Each semester we typically host two to four events,” Gethner said. “I coordinate with the Israeli Education Center to host different speakers on campus.”

The National Geographic video that was shown featured frontline journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including suicide bombing and coverage of soldiers’ deaths. The height of the conflict was primarily between 2000 and 2004, and it was followed by the Jerusalem disengagement.

“My supervisors send me different speakers to feature on campus,” Cohen-Magen said. “They offered Gil, and I accepted.”

Following the brief video, Cohen-Magen continued his presentation, projecting several photos that showed his experiences: rockets launching, soldiers, riots and protests.

Laura Cusack is a program associate at the Jerusalem United Fund of Chicago and attended Wednesday’s event.

“Part of the Israel Education Center’s goals is to bring Israeli speakers to campus,” Cusack said. “We work with anywhere from [Israeli] film makers, professionals in business, politicians and people in the culture of arts. Danny’s job is to coordinate these events on campus, by talking and making relationships, and encourage students to travel there.”

For more information about upcoming events hosted by the Israel Education Center, email