Family, Friends Say Goodbye to Juliano Mer-Khamis

It is only fitting that the actor who strove for peace between Arabs and Jews was honored in both Haifa and in Jenin, in Hebrew and in Arabic.

'Dad wanted peace between Arabs and Jews'

In life, Juliano Mer-Khamis was both Jew and Arab, so it was fitting that in his last act, mourners honored the slain actor and director yesterday in Haifa and in Jenin, in Hebrew and in Arabic.

Juliano Mer-Khamis

Mer-Khamis, who was shot dead in Jenin on Monday on his way home from the theater that he founded, was buried yesterday in Kibbutz Ramot Menashe, where his mother, Arna, is also buried.

Some 2,000 people participated in the funeral procession, which began at Haifa's Arabic-language Al-Midan Theater, where Mer-Khamis' coffin was displayed on the very stage on which he had performed.

"Dad loved peace," his daughter Milay said from the stage. "He wanted freedom for Jenin, he was against the separation fence and he was a person who encompassed everybody. He wanted peace between Arabs and Jews."

Amid a sea of Palestinian flags, Israeli singer Miri Aloni sang "Shir Lashalom" ("Song for Peace" ) in an Arabic translation, to raucous applause.

From the Haifa theater, the procession moved to Jenin, where Mer-Khamis' friends held a modest farewell ceremony on the other side of the Jalameh crossing, condemning the murder and promising to capture those responsible.

"We will not forgive whoever pulled the trigger," said Zakaria Zubeidi, a former leader of Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and co-director of the Freedom Theater that Mer-Khamis' had founded.

Palestinian Authority security forces arrested a Palestinian militant this week suspected of involvement in the shooting.

At Kibbutz Ramot Menashe, among the green thickets, Mer-Khamis' students pledged to continue their teacher's path.

"We will continue to celebrate your path until we die," chanted his students from Jenin, who were granted permission to attend the funeral.

"You were a sole sane voice in this insane place," said director Udi Aloni, who taught cinema at the Freedom Theater.

One of Mer-Khamis' relatives, Noa Mer, said he paid little heed to geopolitical borders, saying: "You were a border unto yourself."

Or as his daughter Milay put it, "You were 100 percent Arab and 100 percent Jewish."