Freedom. The Freedom Theatre — in the Jenin Refugee Camp, the northern West Bank.
Before he was gunned down today in Jenin outside his Freedom Theatre — shot by five bullets, in what was described as a professional assassination — Nazareth-born producer and actor Juliano Mar Khamis lived for most of the last decade in the Jenin Refugee Camp.
[Who else has been assassinated by five bullets? Naim Khader, for example, the former PLO representative to the European Commission in Brussels, shot down outside his house one morning in the spring of 1981. Five bullets, in those days, was iconic… of a whole list of Palestinian assassinations, blamed depending on politics alternatively or simultaneously on renegade Palestinian mercenary Abu Nidal, or on the Israeli Mossad, for which no one has ever been brought to justice.]
Juliano was the founder and Director of the Freedom Theatre, alongside amnestied former Al-Aqsa brigades Zakaria Zubeidi (who eapparently joined the Freedom Theatre in order to protect it).
Juliano explained his goals in this video (h/t to a Tweet from @RachShabi):
“This place never had a theater … Don’t let this view deceive you. We are sitting in the midst of the most attacked and poor refugee camp in Palestine, the refugee camp of Jenin”…
“We are talking about almost 3,000 children under the age of 15 suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It means they pee in their pants when they’re 11, it means they cannot concentrate, they cannot deal with each other without violence … This camp, and look around, is sieged by electric fence all around it, people cannot go out, or in, unless they have a permit. We have two gates, like a big prison, and we are in the midst, trying to serve this population, trying to bring some normality, some sanity, to some people here” …
UPDATE: In a longer version of the film, posted by Yusef Munayyer here. Juliano says “Our duty, as artists, is to rebuild this destruction”.
The film he did about his mother’s work with children in Jenin, Arna’s Children — part of which showed vintage footage of young children in Jenin describing the destruction of their homes, and then participating in theater workshops, before reporting on their later militancy and deaths during the second Intifada — is posted on Youtube here, or in nine parts, starting here.
NOTE: Juliano’s mother, Arna [Orna] Mer, is a Jewish woman born in Rosh Pina now in Israel’s Galilee, who apparently fought in the Palmach for Israel’s independence, then married a Palestinian Christian from Nazareth, Juliano’s father. [They were both communists, Avner Cohen noted in a post on Facebook.] In 1988, during the first Palestinian Intifada, she moved to Jenin (not far from Nazareth, though the “border” is now very difficult to cross) to set up a theater company and work with traumatized Palestinian children. Her theatre was destroyed during the second Palestinian Intifada that broke out in late September 2000. The IDF invaded Jenin Refugee Camp in 2002, looking for suicide bombers. Arna died of cancer. Julian — who fulfilled his obligatory Israeli military service and served with the IDF paratroopers — followed in his mother’s footsteps, moving to the Jenin Refugee Camp during the second Intifada, though he apparently also kept a home base in the Israeli city of Haifa, and rebuilding the Freedom Theatre in 2006…
Dimi Reider wrote, soon after the news arrived of the murder: “There will be so much said and written about Juliano in the coming days. Friends and students will laud his tremendous bravery, his contempt for the walls and barriers – especially barriers of fear – that crisscross our country, his sense of stage, his talent. Enemies will pour mud on him … Comrades will remember a complex and uneasy man, as famous for his rough temper as he was for his devotion to the cause”. This article can be read in full here.