Post-dated post: IDF arrests Jenin Freedom Theatre acting student, 3rd arrest within 10 days, no explanation given

Rami Awni Hwayel, a third-year acting student at the Jenin Freedom Theatre, aged 20, was seized at the Shavei Shomron checkpoint (“roadblock”) between Nablus and Jenin, on August 6. He was on his way back from Ramallah — where he has been in rehearsals for the leading role in the Freedom Theatre’s production of “Waiting for Godot” — and heading for a Ramadan visit with his family.

He is the third person connected to the Freedom Theater, located in the Jenin refugee camp, to be taken into Israeli custody. During a traumatic pre-dawn raid on 27 July, two officials were taken into custody after some 50 or so IDF soldiers, who arrived in jeeps, reportedly hurled rocks and pieces of concrete at the theater building.

The Freedom Theatre’s Juliano Mer-Khamis — an Israeli citizen born to a Jewish mother and an Israeli-Arab-Palestinian father from Nazareth, both members of the Israeli Communist Party — was assassinated by an expert marksman outside the Theatre some three months ago. Juliano lived part of the time in Haifa, and the rest of the time in a house near the Jenin Refugee Camp that was being leased to him by Palestinian ex-militant Zakaria Zubeideh.

The Palestinian Authority has been put in charge of the investigation into Juliano’s murder [with some assistance from Israeli investigations], but no progress has yet been reported. [See our most recent earlier post on this here].

In an email received from the Freedom Theatre this morning, and via Israeli journalists on Twitter, it was mentioned that the IDF had put a “gag order” on Hwayal’s arrest.

Continue reading Post-dated post: IDF arrests Jenin Freedom Theatre acting student, 3rd arrest within 10 days, no explanation given

Why no progress in investigation of murder in Jenin of Juliano Mer-Khamis?

Amira Hass has written a new article reporting that Jenin Camp residents — and PA care not to antagonize some of them — are partly responsible for blocking the investigation in the assassination of Juliano Mer-Khamis in Jenin Refugee Camp two months ago. Her reportage, in Haaretz, is posted here.

But, she wrote, there appear to be other forces of inertia at work as well.

Hass wrote: “Of the four law enforcement agencies investigating the case – the Palestinian police, the Israel Police, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service – none seems to be working particularly hard to solve it, says Abeer Baker, the attorney for the family”…

Continue reading Why no progress in investigation of murder in Jenin of Juliano Mer-Khamis?

More insights – Juliano Mer Khamis, self-explained

In these days of deep morning — and there is so much to mourn here these days — here are two interviews with Juliano Mer Khamis, assassinated last Tuesday in Jenin refugee camp, buried last Thursday on a hilltop plateau in the Israeli Galilee, next to his mother in Ramot Menashe.

The first was done in the U.S by the Detroit-based Mideast Broadcast Network, MBN [Youtube posting caption: Jenin Freedom Theater director Juliano Mer-Khamis interviewed by Detroit Palestinian activist, Hasan Newash on MBN-TV – Mideast Broadcasting Network – April 4, 2005] – h/t and thanks to @imuthaffar via Twitter:

It’s interesting — you here how much he sounds like an Israeli — from his way of speaking English, the deeper and full baritone pitch of his voice, to many of his expressions, his ways of thinking.

As a Palestinian he sounds like … a Palestinian from here, from inside, who didn’t really know what it was like to be a a refugee living in very precarious and dangerous exile, who has no idea of the trauma experienced by (and also created by) the PLO in its years “outside”. “At least 150,000 Palestinians were dropped on us from Tunis … they were busy making money…”

Not totally fair — he blames these people for not preparing the Palestinians for the Israeli crack-down and reinvasion of Palestinian cities after the outbreak of the second Intifada (with snipers firing with rifles whose range could not reach the target from the edge of Bethlehem to the Israeli settlement of Gilo, and with Palestinian suicide-bombing attacks in Israeli cities)… The Tunis crowd believed that the Oslo Accords would succeed, would have to succeed, that there was no other choice — though they didn’t argue this very well. And no one ever predicted what was to follow… Though it is true that no preparations were made for such an eventuality.

Continue reading More insights – Juliano Mer Khamis, self-explained

Assassinated director and actor Juliano Mer Khamis, shot dead outside his Freedom Theatre in Jenin, buried today in Israel's Galilee

Juliano Mer Khamis was buried today in Kibbutz Ramot Menashe, in sudden sunshine after days of rain, on a plateau at the top of a hill in the Galilee region of Israel, two days after he was assassinated by one or more masked gunmen in front of the Freedom Theatre he directed and operated in the Jenin Refugee Camp.

The funeral was completely secular — there was no religious figure officiating, there were no religious symbols or references, and there were no prayers — but it was in a Jewish cemetery, where Juliano was buried near his mother, Arna (Orna) Mer. who was described in an article published on Israel’s YNet website tonight as a “relentless idealist”.

His father, a Christian Arab, Saliba Khamis — described in the same article as an “intellectual” – is buried in a cemetery in Haifa.

The YNet article, posted here, noted that “Nothing was ever conventional in the lives of the Mer-Khamis brothers, from their dual identity to their unique names”.

Both parents were activists in the communist party, which is the only political grouping in Israel to have both Jewish and Arab members.

Juliano once said in an interview — and this has been widely quoted since his assassination — that he was “100 percent Jewish, and 100 percent Palestinian”.

In today’s funeral, Israeli film director Udi Aloni, who had agreed to work with Juliano in the Freedom Theatre, remembered Juliano’s words: “I am from here, and I am who I am”.

Arna founded the Freedom Theater in Jenin Refugee Camp in 1988 during the first Palestinian Intifada. [CORR: she apparently called her theater the Stone Theatre.] It was destroyed in the second Palestinian Intifada, during the 2002 Israeli invasion of the Jenin Refugee Camp to eradicate suicide bomb cells.

Juliano, who had previously worked with his mother, re-built it as the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp in 2006. Juliano made former Aqsa Brigades fighter Zakaria Zubeidi (a former theater student of Arna’s) the Freedom Theatre’s co-director, apparently in part because of the political protection Zubeidi could provide in a tense and tumultuous environment.

Continue reading Assassinated director and actor Juliano Mer Khamis, shot dead outside his Freedom Theatre in Jenin, buried today in Israel's Galilee

Jenin Palestinian Refugee Camp and the Holocaust

On Israel’s Independence Day, according to the Jewish calendar, today, there was a total closure of the West Bank, with certain exceptions, including journalists.

Despite the 45-minute wait just to enter the Qalandia checkpoint from Jerusalem, caused by extra “security” measures — and tightened restrictions at several checkpoints along the way — I went along with a group of colleagues who were filming interviews first in the Jenin (Palestinian) Refugee Camp, in the West Bank, and then in Wadi Ara, a Palestinian-Arab city in Israel’s Galilee region.

The purpose of the trip was to follow up on an interesting human dilemma caused by a complete collapse of mutual comprehension.

A month earlier, some 13 kids from Jenin Refugee Camp taken by their music teacher, Wafaa Younis from Wadi Ara, to sing and play violin for an Israeli audience of about 30 mostly-elderly people at the Holocaust Survivor’s Center in the city of Holon, south of Tel Aviv. 

Neither the music students nor their parents were informed in advance that the audience would
include aging Israeli survivors of the Holocaust — the World War Two genocidal “program” that
deliberately, methodically, and bureaucratically first dehumanized, then exterminated some six million Jews in Nazi-run concentration camps in several European countries then occupied by German troops under orders from Adolph Hitler and his henchmen. There were reports that Wafaa Younis had tried to explain on the way to the performance, but that the message did not get through due to chaos on the bus. [Well, but why wait until they are on the bus? If the intention was really to get the message through, this could have been done…]

Anyway, nor were the Israeli audience informed in advance that the performance would be by Palestinian kids from the West Bank — “a rare sight in Israel these days”, as Haaretz newspaper later wrote, wryly, here .

Continue reading Jenin Palestinian Refugee Camp and the Holocaust