Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Israeli activist, director, actor is assassinated in Jenin Refugee Camp

From the Guardian:
An Israeli actor and peace activist who ran a drama project in a Palestinian refugee camp has been shot dead by masked men, metres from the theatre he founded.

Juliano Mer Khamis, 52, had received threats for his work in Jenin in the northern West Bank but continued to divide his time between Jenin and Haifa in the north of Israel. Witnesses said he was shot five times.
[...]
He was born to a Jewish mother and an Arab Christian father. His mother, Arna, was renowned for setting up a theatre group in Jenin during the first Intifada which started in 1987. Mer Khamis directed the film Arna's Children, which celebrated her work, which he continued after her death in 1994. His wife, Jenny, a Finn, is pregnant with twins. She heard of his death from Israeli radio.
Dimi Reider, of +972 magazine, writes about his fondest memory of Juliano Mer Khamis:
There will be so much said. I would just like to share this memory. It’s seven years ago, 2004. The Student Coalition at Tel Aviv University, an organization I co-founded, is staging a massive teach-out on the university square, trying to disrupt the normalcy of dozy lectures as the streets were burning.
At the end of a long, long day with lectures and arguments and songs and chants, as darkness fell on plush northern Tel Aviv, we screened Juliano’s film, “Arna’s children” – still, to my mind, the best documentary ever done about the Occupation. We, some five hundred students, sat in the outdoor auditorium, stunned. Before us, the “Palestinian gunmen” of the newscasts we knew since childhood – these footnotes in the reports, usually afforded no visuals, just “three Palestinian gunmen were shot in the West Bank today, IDF spokesman said. In other news…” – were coming to life as human beings, speaking about their childhood dreams, their slain comrades, their hopes or lack of hope for a future; sometimes as children, sometimes as grown, gun-wielding men, with children just like they used to be clustered around their knees. After the credits rolled and passed, the plaza was completely silent. One girl, a moderate centre-leftist from the campus chapter of Meretz, raised her hand. Juliano called her out. She got up and asked: “What can we do to help?”
Watch this video that gives a glimpse into Mer Khamis' Freedom Theatre, including some of his own thoughts.


Mer Khamis' film, Arna's Children, can be seen in its entirety on YouTube.

Update: Arna's Children, has been taken down. Go rent it or purchase it. 

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