In Memoriam: Juliano Mer-Khamis

Occupied Ramallah, 6 April 2011 — The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) mourns the tragic loss of our comrade, partner, and friend Juliano Mer-Khamis, and strongly condemns the cowardly murder that took his life. Along with all other Palestinians who fight against the grave injustice imposed on our people, Juliano embodied the hopeful and brave spirit of cultural resistance. He proclaimed and shared the spirit of freedom in all senses of the word. He believed in our collective cultural revolution that we fought for together. Through his special, organic blend of art and cultural activism, Juliano personified the spirit of resistance and the promise of liberation and justice. Juliano, born to a Palestinian father and a Jewish mother, followed in his mother’s legacy, to which he beautifully paid tribute in his famous documentary Arna’s Children: Arna Mer Khamis, as Juliano described her, “spent her life fighting against the Occupation, or, as she used to put it, struggling against the Zionist colonization of Palestine.”[1]

A strong and thoughtful supporter of the cultural and academic boycott of Israel, Juliano also worked to construct hope for all Palestinians. From the devastated streets of the Jenin refugee camp, he saw Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), coupled with other forms of peaceful resistance, as the best hope for exercising Palestinian self determination and realizing the refugees’ aspirations to return to their homes of origin.

In August, 2006, a great majority of Palestinian filmmakers and cultural workers issued a call for a cultural boycott of Israel inspired by that imposed on apartheid South Africa. Juliano Mer-Khamis was among the first to endorse the statement, help promote it, and defend it against attempts to misrepresent it. The statement said:

“We, the undersigned Palestinian filmmakers and artists, appeal to all artists and filmmakers of good conscience around the world to cancel all exhibitions and other cultural events that are scheduled to occur in Israel, to mobilize immediately and not allow the continuation of the Israeli offensive to breed complacency. Like the boycott of South African art institutions during apartheid, cultural workers must speak out against the current Israeli war crimes and atrocities. We call upon the International community to join us in the boycott of Israeli film festivals, Israeli public venues, and Israeli institutions supported by the government, and to end all cooperation with these cultural and artistic institutions that to date have refused to take a stand against the Occupation, the root cause for this colonial conflict.”[2]

Juliano’s memory will forever be a part of us and his loss will be mourned by all who struggle for justice and freedom. We shall continue to resist until every town, city and refugee camp in Palestine becomes an open stage for our collective freedom theatre!



One thought on “In Memoriam: Juliano Mer-Khamis

  1. Dear Editor

    The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp on the West Bank was established by Israeli actor, director, filmmaker and activist Juliano Mer-Khamis. He wanted to give young people experiencing the effects of the Israeli occupation: aggression, frustration, hopelessness and trauma on an almost daily basis the means to express themselves. The theatre thus fulfils a vital role in combating symptoms of severe emotional distress, concentration difficulties, aggressive behaviour, sleeplessness, nightmares and a whole host of psychosomatic symptoms. On April 4, 2011 Juliano was assassinated.

    The theatre’s co-founder and co-director, Zakaria Zubeidi, had been the Jenin chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade but, in mid-2007, he renounced violence in favour of artistic cultural resistance and received an amnesty from the Israeli government. Without warning or reason the Israeli government has now revoked his amnesty and, since 29 December, he is being held under arrest inside the Palestinian security headquarters. An appeal by the Freedom Theatre states that his life is in danger. Zakaria’s arrest is only the latest example of long-standing violence and harassment against the theatre by the Israeli Defence Force.

    On January 3 ABC TV’s seven o’clock news carried a story about the Freedom Theatre which included an interview with Zakaria but no mention was made of the continuing Israeli Defence Force harassment against the theatre or of Zakaria’s arrest.

    Those who value peace, justice and artistic freedom are invited to visit the Freedom Theatre’s website and to give the support they request:

    MOB: 0422 298 165

    “The sleep of reason produces monsters” Goya
    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” Voltaire
    “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian Archbishop

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