I was very sorry to learn of the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis, 52, an actor who famously described himself as “100 percent Palestinian and 100 percent Jewish.”
Born in Nazareth to a Jewish mother and Arab-Israeli father (making him halachically Jewish), Mer-Khamis, a onetime paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, co-created and ran The Freedom Theatre, a company for Palestinian children and youth from the refugee camp of Jenin.
A political activist who was apparently outspoken in his opposition to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, he was shot on Monday by a Palestinian terrorist (reportedly a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade). The theater, which is co-ed and currently staging George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” had previously drawn threats and vandalism from Islamic fundamentalists.
In addition to his work with the Freedom Theatre, Mer-Khamis appeared in a variety of Israeli and American films, including Julian Schnabel’s “Miral.”
My former colleague Liel Leibovitz, now at Tablet, has published an appreciation that, while a bit politicized for my taste, offers a well-written, thoughtful tribute to Mer-Khamis.
Adding to the tragedy and brutality of the murder (and reminding me of the recent massacre in Itamar, which apparently one-third of Palestinians polled support) is that Mer-Khamis was shot in the presence of his 8-month-old son. His wife, not present at the shooting, is pregnant with twins.
He was buried on a kibbutz in northern Israel.
May his memory be a blessing.
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