ICAHD mourns the tragic slaying by masked gunmen of our friend and comrade Juliano Mer-Khamis in Jenin. Juliano was a major figure in the struggle for a just peace and the forging of a new multi-cultural society in Palestine/Israel based on human rights, freedom, equality and, not least, creative, critical expression.
Juliano, filmmaker, actor and the co-founder and director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, supported the work of ICAHD and frequently attended our summer rebuilding camps in the West Bank, showing his films to our activists and sharing his thoughts and vision. That vision was of a bi-national society, although Juliano was far too critical to confine himself to “Jewish-Israeli-Palestinian” dichotomies. As a man of the theatre as well as a political figure driven to forge a better society against sectarian forces who sought only to divide and dominate, he opened issues of equality, gender, religion and individual expression, bringing young people – his “actors” – into experiential encounters with them. This may have cost him his life; in both the societies in which he lived, Israeli and Palestinian, the conflict has not only suffocated equal rights and individualism by group-think sectarianism, but has legitimized the use of violence against anyone envisioning unfettered pluralism. Juliano did not allow fear or pressures to shut him up, but it is having its effects on all of us. Liberals and even those of the critical left are hunkering down; many of Israel and Palestine’s brightest young people are fleeing.
The ones that envision and work for a just society are decreasing among us. The loss of one of the bravest, one of the most energetic, articulate and creative among us, the symbol of what might be, is a cruel blow, not only to his family, to whom our condolences go, but to the rest of us who must struggle on without him. No, not “without him,” since Juliano will always inspire and guide us. Someone of his presence, like Rachel Corrie, cannot be easily removed from the scene.
Juliano, we will miss you but we will continue your struggle.
Jeff Halper, ICAHD