A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Juliano Mer-Khamis

The killing yesterday in the West Bank city of Jenin of Israeli-Arab actor and activist Juliano Mer-Khamis seems to have provoked a rare reaction on both sides of the Green Line: shock and anger among both Israelis and Palestinians.

This is in keeping with the man's unusual background and career. Born in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth to an Israeli Jewish mother and an Israeli Christian Arab father, both also Communists, he combined a successful movie career with political activism. Though he had served as a paratrooper in the IDF, he had been spending most of his time in the Palestinian city of Jenin. After a theater built there by his mother was destroyed during the Israeli operation in Jenin in 2002, he rebuilt it and spent much of his time there, working to spread the arts in the Jenin refugee camp.

The Palestinian Authority has reportedly arrested a member of Hamas, but there were several gunmen involved. There seems to be some suspicion an Islamist opposed to the fact that the drama project was coeducational might be behind the attack.

He seems to have been an extraordinary man; the high praise he's receiving from both sides of the Green Line seem to testify to that. And as has happened far too often in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is precisely those who have genuinely built bridges between the two peoples (as he himself personally was such a bridge) who are too often the victims of the violence.

An interview and video about him here.

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