Juliano Mer Khamis: His Legacy Will Live On
On April 4th, peace activist Juliano Mer Khamis, actor, director and founder of the Jenin Freedom Theatre in Jenin’s Palestinian refugee camp was murdered. The targeting of the 52-year-old artist sparked grief and outrage among both Israelis and Palestinians, most prominently in the Jenin refugee camp, where he had lived for the last seven years.
We don’t yet know who was behind the assassination, but the action represents forces who wished to vanquish his fight for freedom of expression, his unwavering support of Palestinian rights, his solidarity with womens’ liberation, and his stances against all forms of fundamentalism. At a time when funding for artistic expression is besieged in this country, we are humbled to see a brave artist die in pursuit of activities we often take for granted. Juliano’s murder is a wakeup call to all of us, a reminder of the true value of committed artists to our lives. This crime is a direct assault on art and artists, peacekeepers, freedom lovers, and the imaginative minds of children living under the ongoing peril of violence.
Juliano Mer Khamis was murdered by masked gunmen at the entrance of the Freedom Theatre. He was in his car with his toddler son. He was a caring and nurturing father to Keshet, Milay and Jay and a loving husband to Jenny, six month pregnant with twins.
Mer Khamis’ murder is an attack on all who strive for justice in Palestine. The son of an Israeli-Jewish mother and a Palestinian-Arab father, he lived his life in a way that inspires hope of freedom for Palestine and an end to racism, discrimination, and all forms of oppression. He said to an interviewer in 2009, he was “100% Palestinian and 100% Jewish”. He represented the emotions and aspirations of all people wishing to live with peace, equality, and justice. It appears he was killed for this very same reason.
The Arab Film Festival was proud to feature Juliano’s documentary film, Arna’s Children, about his mother’s life. His message found a warm and appreciative audience and he was welcomed as a guest filmmaker at the 8th Arab Film Festival in 2004. His work and his life’s legacy advance the values we hold dear: bridging cultures and helping unleash the potential of the next generation to advance the cause of universal freedom. We condemn the attempt to silence this important voice and redouble our own commitment to advance Arab arts and culture in the pursuit of liberty and justice for all.
–The Arab Film Festival