Juliano Meir-Khamis, a well-known Israeli actor and co-director of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, was shot to death in his car Monday, just outside his theatre in Jenin refugee camp, in the northern part of the West Bank. Meir-Khamis, the son of a Palestinian father and a Jewish-Israeli mother, lived in Jenin with his family for the last seven years.Meir-Khamis is known for his anti-Occupation and anti-Zionist stance, and has in the past received death threats due to his peace activism and his work in Jenin. After the original Freedom Theatre, founded by his mother, was destroyed by Israeli forces in 2002, Meir-Khamis worked to rebuild the theatre, which re-opened in 2005 under the dual management of Meir-Khamis and Zakariya Zubeidi, a former leader of the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades in Jenin.
In a 2004 interview, Juliano Meir-Khamis said, “We have a dream to have a theatre…we hope that this theatre will generate the political, artistic movement of artists who want to raise their voice against discrimination of women, discrimination of children, unnecessary violence against civilians.”
He also directed the movie ‘Arna’s Children’ in Israel, which is about the stories of ten children from Jenin who attended the Freedom Theatre that Juliano and his mother founded and operated in Jenin refugee camp. The movie tells the story of the Israeli invasion of Jenin camp in 2002, when Israel leveled hundreds of homes and killed over 100 Palestinians. Some of the children featured in the film grew up to be resistance fighters, and some were killed by Israeli forces in the years since the film’s release.
Juliano’s father, Salibeh Khamis, was a political leader in the Israeli Communist party and a prominent leftist. His mother, Arna Meir, is a leftist Jewish Israeli who is well-known in Israel for her anti-Zionist political position, and her work against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
The governor of the Jenin district, Qaddoura Mouseh, said that the Palestinian security forces have initiated an investigation into the attack. Mouseh said that it is unlikely that the assailant did not know Juliano, who is a well-known and well-regarded member of the peace movement in Palestine. He added that this assassination is a conspiracy against the peaceful aspirations of the Palestinian people.
In addition, the appointed Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, strongly condemned the attack, saying, ‘We cannot stand silent in the face of this ugly crime. It constitutes a grave violation that goes beyond all principles and human values and it contravenes with the customs and ethics of co-existence.’