Remembering Juliano Mer-Khamis

Ismail Khalidi and Jen Marlowe in The Nation:

Mer%20Khamis In 2006, the new Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp held an art competition.

“Don’t just go for the tanks,” Juliano Mer-Khamis, the co-founder of the theater, told the children-artists. “Hope. Where is the hope?”

A 12-year-old girl named Wafaa painted a mother pulling her son out of the ruins of a demolished home. Juliano gently admonished the young student, reminding her that the painting should represent hope.

“But there’s this red flower,” the girl said, pointing to a splash of color next to the rubble. “There.”

“I almost cried,” Juliano recounted. “So…hope is there. We have to pour water, pour water, pour water. And that’s what we do here.”

That hope was badly shattered on Monday, April 4, when Juliano was shot dead by a masked gunman outside the Freedom Theatre.

Juliano, the child of a Jewish Israeli mother and Palestinian Christian father, both communists, co-founded the Freedom Theatre as an outgrowth of his 2004 documentary film, Arna’s Children. The film depicts the art and theater program that his mother, Arna, established for children in the Jenin Refugee Camp during the first intifada. Juliano returns to the camp after the massive Israeli invasion of 2002, during the second intifada, when large swaths of it were bulldozed by the Israeli army. He wants to know: what became of the children from his mother’s program? Nearly all of them, he discovers, are dead.

More here. The Jenin Freedom Theatre Today:

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