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Director shot dead outside Jenin theater
Published Monday 04/04/2011 (updated) 05/04/2011 18:21
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Palestinian security inspect the car which Arab-Jewish actor and director Juliano
Mer-Khamis, 52, was driving when he was shot dead by unknown gunmen inside
the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Masked gunmen shot dead the
well-known actor and director in Jenin, Palestinian police and medics said.
[AFP/Saif Dahlah]
JENIN (Ma'an) -- Unknown assailants shot dead the General-Director of the Freedom Theater in Jenin outside the venue on Monday. He had reestablished the theater, founded by his mother, after it fell into disuse during the Second Intifadah.

Juliano Mer-Khamis, 52, was shot five times while leaving the theater, and died at Jenin Hospital, local security sources told a Ma'an correspondent. They said his body was handed to Israeli authorities at the Jalama crossing north of Jenin.

Unknown gunmen inside the city's refugee camp opened fire on his car, Jenin police chief Mohammed Tayim told AFP.

Witnesses in the camp told AFP they saw two masked gunmen open fire on his car before speeding away. However, Jenin governor Qadura Musa told AFP initial reports indicated a lone gunman had carried out the attack.

"He was shot by a masked gunman who fired five bullets into the window of his car," he said. A woman from Bethlehem who was in the car with him was wounded in the hand, he said.

The nanny of Mer-Khamis's son was injured in the attack, police told Ma'an.

Musa said said he was not aware of any threats against Mer-Khamis.

"We have not arrested anyone yet, but we have formed a crisis group from all the Palestinian security forces to investigate this crime and we hope to have some results within the coming hours."

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad strongly condemned the murder. "Such criminal acts will not be tolerated under any circumstances."

He added: "It constitutes a severe violation of our principles and values and goes against our peoples’ morals and beliefs in co-existence."

The premier ordered security services to work round the clock to bring the assailants to justice.

Actor and activist

Mer-Khamis was a well-known film and theater actor and activist. His mother, Arna Mer, was a Jewish Israeli who campaigned for Palestinian rights and established a theater in Jenin refugee camp in the 1980s. His father was a Palestinian Christian, Saliba Khamis. Mer-Khamis, an Israeli citizen, was born in Nazareth.

Mer-Khamis refused to describe himself as an Arab Israeli, telling Israel's army radio in 2009: "I am 100 percent Palestinian and 100 percent Jewish."

Following a well-received documentary on his mother's activities in the camp, which he directed, the actor established the Jenin Freedom Theater in 2006 with former military leader of the Jenin Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Zakaria Zubeidi. Mer-Khamis had lived in the city's camp for seven years.

The theater is a cultural center in the refugee camp which is home to some 16,000 Palestinian refugees, more than half of them minors.

One of Jenin's 'sons'

Governor Qadura Musa condemned the killing of the actor, who he said was "one of the camp's sons."

Mer-Khamis lived in the refugee camp "through sweet and bitter days" and developed the theater to reject oppression, injustice and occupation, the governor said.

He always worked to help Palestinians to achieve their rights, Musa said, adding that all those who knew him in Jenin felt great pain for his loss.

The governor said the Palestinian judiciary would find those responsible and punish them in court.

Theater a refuge from violence

Originally known as as The Stone Theater, Mer-Khamis' mother established the space in 1987 for the children of Jenin to escape the violence of the first intifada which had begun several months earlier.

Fifteen years later, the theater was destroyed during the second intifada when Israeli troops launched a massive operation to root out gunmen from the refugee camp -- then a major militant stronghold.

It was rebuilt and reopened in 2006 by her actor son with the help of Zakaria Zubeidi, who himself was part of the theater project.

Mer-Khamis's 2004 documentary film "Arna's Children" about the theater won first prize at the Canadian International Documentary Festival the same year.

But the theater was not without its critics. In 2009, two arson attacks damaged the Freedom Theater, and a number of threats were reportedly made against the initiative. In one attack, two molotov cocktails were hurled at the building, which was empty at the time, setting the door on fire.

Since then, there have been no reports of attacks or threats against the theater or those running it, locals and officials told AFP.

AFP contributed to this report
1 ) mohamed / somalia
04/04/2011 19:48

2 ) Abban / America
04/04/2011 19:52
Is this what you Palestinians want? Israel is the only thing preventing the Palestinians from ripping each other a part. I know Palestinians aren't schooled in their history - but they should study up on the massacres of Arabs by their own during the revolts, 1948 War, Lebanon War, and first second intifada. It seems when the Arabs aren't killing Jews, they are killing each other. Please stop the violence.

3 ) fadel / nablus
04/04/2011 19:53
this was a very very stupid move, even though this guy is a jew, he is not a settler and HE was not a zionist and he supported strongly very strongly palestinian rights AND he treated palestinians like humans, whoever did this is a stupid idiot bastard AND they are not helping Palestinian rights by doing this.

4 ) Fadel / Nablus
04/04/2011 19:57
I think Zionist did this because this guy was a good guy and he was strongly anti zionist, and i know people who went to the theater. I think it was a settler because no one hated this guy..

5 ) Christopher / USA
04/04/2011 20:03
Settler pogroms escalate.

6 ) Johanna / Sweden
04/04/2011 20:14
Rest in peace, Juliano. You and your mother have done wonderful things for Palestine!

7 ) Tobias / US
04/04/2011 20:17

There are too many activist that inject themselves between military/resistance operations, with some ending-up dead accidentally,
like Ms Corrie, but there are NOT enough activists calling for peace !!

Mr Mer-Khamis may have been killed for being in the car,
with a woman - NOT his wife,
maybe someone in the PA decided, that
his "100 percent Palestinian side was collaborating with
his 100 percent Jewish" side, and
ordered another government sanctioned murder !!!

8 ) John / Jerusalem
04/04/2011 20:28
This is very very sad news. Juliano was a wonderful human being and an inspiration to many young people living in Jenin.

9 ) Ali / Amman
04/04/2011 20:32
Sad...very sad...

10 ) Robert Haymond / Israel/Canada
04/04/2011 20:46
He gave little credit to his Israeli upbringing. That aside, he attempted to educate and entertain Palestinian people but it should be obvious to all the anti Israeli Talkbackers that the real problem is that Arab extremists will go to any length to prevent the growth of a creative and decent Palestinain society. These terrorists care only for their own personal power and the demise of Israel but not a smidgen for the people whom they pretend to represent. This should be an object lesson!

11 ) Friend of the Freedom Theatre / UK
04/04/2011 21:03
My love goes out to his 3 children&his pregnant wife who is expecting twins.He was a great man with tremendous courage&a strong belief in cultural resistance.I pray that his hard work is continued.Today the world has lost a brilliant man with a huge character,who gave up a successful acting career to encourage the young people in Jenin to express themselves in a peaceful context, continuing&expanding what his mother set out to create.He was loved&admired by many people&will be greatly missed

12 ) Ben Alofs / UK/Netherlands
04/04/2011 21:06
I feel outrage at the cowardly murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis. The barbarians destroyed much more than the life of a Palestinian/Jewish actor, who had the courage of his convictions and worked tirelessly for coexistendce.
The murderers stand for intolerance, immorality and primitive hate. I hope the Palestinian authorities will do their utmost to arrest these criminals and throw them in jail. They have lost their right to be part of society.

13 ) Moshe Sharansky / Israel
04/04/2011 21:16
there is word in Israel that a Jewish settler known by the Shin Bet killed this guy because he was producing a daming documentary about the Occupation. This guy was loathed in Jewish Circles because his mother was a jew and his father a Christian Palestinian. The settlers even have a song about how much they hate this guy.

14 ) Chimo / USA
04/04/2011 22:10
So, Fadel from Nablus is trying to blame Jewish Settlers for this guy's death?
What a bunch of garbage, he was most likely killed by one of your terrorist groups like Hamas or I.J. It was obviously some Islamic nutcase who saw his opportunity to kill a Jew and obviously decide that "Allah" only likes dead jews, no matter if they are trying to help Palestinians or not. Get a clue.

15 ) Maureen / Australia
04/04/2011 22:12
10) Robert Haymond. "Mer-Khamis lived in the refugee camp "through sweet and bitter days" and developed the theater to reject oppression, injustice and occupation, the governor said." So who is afraid of a Palestinian Statehood, Robert - Right Wing Zionist nuts!

16 ) DD / US
04/04/2011 22:16
@ Robert. You people and your object lessons. A man's dead, try not to make him a flag-bearer for your cause.

17 ) elias / palestine
04/04/2011 22:32
@10 ) Robert Haymond / Israel/Canada
wish youd know what you talk about..

18 ) Julie / USA
04/04/2011 22:37
#10 - you're absolutely correct, terrorists go to all and any extremes to prevent peace and positive growth...which is exactly why i think an israeli settler did this.

19 ) Abdullah / Palestine
04/04/2011 23:04
SHUT UP FAYYAD! COEXISTENCE?? as if the guy was an israeli...his dad was a Palestinian and his mum was Jewish he was a Palestinian jew..

20 ) Huwaida / Palestine
04/04/2011 23:54
I hear it was disgruntled Thai workers

21 ) Robert Haymond / Israel/Canada
05/04/2011 00:02
Interesting how you Talkbackers have such sympathy for this man but no expression for the five dead from Itamar, throats slit by terrorists. Like I recently wrote, we know the murderers were Palestinian terrorists (see wnd.com), socalled security officers in fact. And now some of you refuse to beieve this killer was Palestinian. You just don't get it, especially those who do not reside here. There is no peace here in the Mideast, not for us, not for Arabs, until Islamists are destroyed.

22 ) Christopher / USA
05/04/2011 00:30
Scroll down the Ma'an headlines. There were Israeli soldiers and intel agents operating just east of Jenin. Coincidence?

23 ) Frida / Norway
05/04/2011 00:31
Juliano Mer-Khamis was a wonderful person and tolerant human being who insisted to be both Palestinian and Israel (which is very rare these days) and a great director of theatre and cinema. Peace be upon his memory - let us all respect this person.

24 ) One of the people / USA
05/04/2011 01:04
The Zionist fascists are trying again to spread their venom and lies by blaming Palestinians for the killing. Who has something to lose and who is afraid of examples of coexistence? Of course it is the Zionist fascists and settler colonialists. The history of Zionism is full of murderous acts not only against Arabs but also against Jews. That is what fascist Zionism is all about: murder.

25 ) Shelisa / USA
05/04/2011 01:21
Words cannot come close to describing how I feel reading this. I want to offer my most sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Mer-Khamis and to the Freedom Theater community.

26 ) Donald Veach / USA
05/04/2011 01:24
It is quite obvious - another Israeli execution.

27 ) Gavi / UK
05/04/2011 01:41
How very sad that Juliano's life's work of peace and intercultural respect leads to disrespectful name-calling and blame game mentality in these comments. There is blood on all sides. Time to end the violence. It is what Juliano would have wanted.

28 ) Britt Louise Tillbom / Sweden
05/04/2011 01:50
As two of the teachers of the Acting School of Jenin, we deepy condemn the brutal murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, the leader of The Freedom Theatre. The Freedom Theatre is - in the refugee camp of Jenin- the most brilliant example of creative,humanistic, peacemaking and artistic places in Palestine, thanks to the work by Juliano Mer Khamis. May he rest in peace. His work will continue. We send our warmest thoughts to his wife Jenny. Love from Britt Louise Tillbom and Jan Tiselius, Sweden

29 ) Deir Yassin / Palestine/FRance
05/04/2011 01:59
I'm devastated by the death of this son of Palestine. His life has been very complicated: as a young man he served in the IDF and used only his mother's name in order to hide his Arab origins. He went through a long personnal journey and became more and more aware of being a Palestinian. Mer-Khamis was the guy that stood up in the middle of a projection of "Avatar" in California last year, yelling "This is a metaphor of Palestine".

30 ) Abban / America
05/04/2011 02:00
And Israeli settler? Kidding me? Israeli settlers can't even enter Jenin, not even soldiers can without cooperation with the PA. The violence between Israel settlers and Palestinian is lower than average. More Palestinians are killed every month in honor killings than by Israeli settlers according to the UN. This was obvious an attack by a Palestinian group. BTW Juliano served in the Israeli Army and was not anti-Zionist by any means.

31 ) De?r Yassin / Palestine/France
05/04/2011 02:06
The film "Arna's Children" by Juliano Mer-Khamis in on youtube (85 minutes). It's one of the best film ever made on life in the OT. Zakaria Zoubeidi is interviewed, and it's a brilliant portrait of Arna Mer, this Israeli Jewish woman who settled down in Jenin, always weared a keffiyeh, and spoke Arabic, though with a heavy accent :-)

32 ) yazan badran / palestine
05/04/2011 02:35
very big lose mentioned in this sad news and so what's hidden in the dark must be reavel very soon.

33 ) Basil / USA
05/04/2011 02:49
Personally, I don't think Khamis was killed because he was "Jewish". His father was an Arab. I think he was killed by an Arab because of his plays. Some people seemed to have objected to his plays. It is kind of like the behavior of people who throw stones at secular Jews for doing things on the Sabbath. If religious Jews got more power, they would do the same to Jews. Muslim fanatics are a problem. Most Palestinians are said this happened and loved the guy.

34 ) Robby / USA
05/04/2011 04:10
4 ) Fadel / Nablus, 5 ) Christopher / USA - do either of you have any proof of who the killer(s) are? I haven't read about any. Maybe you were witnesses?

35 ) Julie Webber / USA
05/04/2011 04:18
When I read Mr. Khames' story, I was so shocked and upset. What a unique family and person! What humanity they have. What a terribble loss to the Palestinian people and to all people of the world. RIP Mr. Khames

36 ) omar / usa
05/04/2011 04:38
end the zionist occupation, but in the mean time someone please give these nasty dirty settlers soap and water to bathe.

37 ) Kazukiyo / Japan
05/04/2011 04:53
Idiots from another planet talks about 'history' that Arabs and Jews are killing 'each other', and victims had been equal. Living in a wonderland.

38 ) Sieglinde Gravenhorst / Deutschland
05/04/2011 05:14
La?t uns B?ses mit Gutem ?berwinden!
Dank, Juliano, f?r alle Liebe!

39 ) Salma / Palestine
05/04/2011 07:47
Words can not describe the horror of the crime, I am very sad, we have lost a great man named Juliano Mer Khamis, a man worked silently to draw a smile on needy faces in Palestine, particularly on the children faces of Jenin refugee camp. Juliano, forgive us for not heping you, May God bless your soul.

40 ) Salma / Palestine
05/04/2011 08:05
Find the murderers and let them get the hardest punishment , nothing less than death penalty.

41 ) Rania / Nablus
05/04/2011 08:36
well, After this tragic loss and ugly crime I agree with no. 2 Abban, let Israel stay here , at least jews do not kill each other. The Truth Must REALLY Hurt! we can not save not just an actor but the best our best friend. we have no shame.

42 ) Eman / Gaza
05/04/2011 08:39
what the hell these monsters want? why did they kill this great man? for how long will we remain at the mercy of this scum-called "Islamic extremists" ?

43 ) Amal / Jenin
05/04/2011 08:47
Juliano Mer-Khamis, you'll always be special to us! You deserve to be treated special. we apologise, we don't deserve you.Woe unto us!

44 ) Hala / Ramallah
05/04/2011 08:48
call Israel to find the killers. PA failed even to save this great man's live!

45 ) Rose / Beit Sahour
05/04/2011 09:00
R.I.P. I feel ashamed, SOME of my people kill our best friend at all, who will or can trust us anymore? i feel ashamed and I feel panicked.

46 ) B. / Germany
05/04/2011 11:11
This man was a real peacemaker. The more I am deeply shocked of such cruelty and about some comments you make here.Both people, not the Israelis, not the Palestinians will never reach any peace,if they do not stop the ciycle of revenge. Both depend on each other and have to create peace with each other. However my impression is they delegate the responsibility for their peace and needs the world, complaining about their desperate situation which they is manifest by each cruel action.

47 ) lirun / israel
05/04/2011 12:14
may his soul rest in peace.. and may his inspiration live forever

48 ) luisa / italy
05/04/2011 12:31
please be silent for a moment and listen to the humanity and love for justice which comes out from Arna and Juliano life.
my deepest sorrow for Juliano and hope the work of Arna and Juliano will continue

49 ) ahmad / gaza
05/04/2011 13:08
Maan is very lazy, i see my comments too late.

50 ) Mazen / Jerusalem
05/04/2011 13:22
Ben Alofs, KOL HAKAVOD. may god bless his soul.

51 ) Victoria / UK
05/04/2011 14:42
Why is it that people automatically blame the Palestinians for everything? Why would they kill him? He was one of their greatest allies. This stinks of a settler attack on him for being a traitor. Extremist settlers and extremist Palestinians: they are the same thing. As bad as each other.

52 ) Ghazal / Ramallah
05/04/2011 16:09
#44 sadly true. let israel find the killers.

53 ) zaki mahayni / germany
05/04/2011 16:32
who else other than mousad would do such a crime ! they have a tradition of murdering who ever speaks the truth about the criminal israeli adminstaration. when will it stop and when would the palastinians live in peace in their own state, which was promissed to them by the entire world since over 25 years ! Istead more and more settlements in occupied palstine!! when will the israeli adminstration understand that a just peace is the only solution for both to live in peace and dignity ?!!

54 ) Doris Friedrichs / Germany
05/04/2011 19:46
I am so sad to hear the news ,let Israel find the killers.

55 ) sharon / Israel
16/04/2011 13:43
I read a few of the comments here. let's summerise it. As usuall it is Israel fault, put the blame on Israel. The "Shabak" is responsible for that.
(cynic way).

And know seriously despite Juliano Mer activity don't forgert, he himself
had identity problems for many years. There was violence in his family between his parents and finally they got split . He desliked his father.In his own life he demonstrated the Tradegy of this place
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