Mourners of Juliano Mer-Khamis - Kaminsky - April 5, 2011
Mourners at Haifa’s Al-Midan Theater, April 5, 2011. Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
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The shooting death of actor and director Juliano Mer-Khamis will become a "symbol of political freedom" even if it was intended to silence the Nazareth-born founder of The Freedom Theater in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, Israeli Arab singer and journalist Amal Murkus said yesterday.

"Juliano died because they tried to kill his dream, but it hasn't died," said Murkus, who studied acting with Mer-Khamis at the Beit Zvi School of the Performing Arts in Ramat Gan. "This political assassination will become a symbol of political freedom. The Freedom Theatre will become a model for generations."

The half-Jewish and half-Arab Mer-Khamis "was not a provocateur, but a revolutionary who went with his principles," she said outside Mer-Khamis' childhood home in Haifa, where his family was mourning his death.

"In this place, Israel and Palestine, we need revolutionaries like him, the kind who believe that art will lead to social change."

Mer-Khamis was shot to death Monday afternoon in Jenin, as he was driving away from his theater with his infant son, who was not hurt in the attack, and a babysitter, who was lightly wounded.

His coffin will be on display today at Al-Midan, an Arabic-language theater in Haifa where he has acted and directed.

Mourners will be forming a convoy from the theater to the Jalameh crossing at the entrance to Jenin, where his Palestinian friends will be able to pay their respects.

Mer-Khamis will be buried in Kibbutz Ramot Menashe in the lower Galilee, where his mother is buried.

In addition to founding the Freedom Theater, Mer-Khamis also set up an acting school in Jenin and discovered that some of the children there have "amazing talent," said actress Clara Khoury, who was in the show "Death and the Maiden," which Mer-Khamis directed at Al-Midan last year.

"The war he fought was to liberate women and to encourage the freedom of expression and political awareness," she said.

She also speculated that perhaps those goals generated so much antagonism in the West Bank that they resulted in his death.