Jul, one year later
(29 May 1958 – 4 April 2011)
Image: Untitled woodcut by Abdel Nasser Amer, Gaza, 2002. Two-thousand two was also the year the Freedom Theatre (founded by Arna Mer-Khamis, and at that time called the Stone Theatre) was razed to the ground when the Israeli Army sent bulldozers into Jenin Refugee Camp. (This post first appeared at The New Inquiry.)
Juliano Mer-Khamis was killed one year ago today when a masked gunman shot him five times—some accounts say seven—as he sat in his red Citroën. He died in view of his one-year old son and babysitter (his wife, pregnant with twins, was out of range). At this writing his killer has not been apprehended, and likely never will be. Even if it were so, the mighty sting of losing Jul has not worn off.
I interviewed Juliano about his directing, acting, and political organizing when he toured with his film Arna’s Children (full text of the interview here.). I had bought a cheap tape recorder from a nearby pharmacy with two triple A batteries and some fresh tapes. (After transcribing the interview the tape recorder promptly and mysteriously broke, literally falling to pieces.)
Our interview took place at Boston’s South Station on 4 April 2006, five years to the day of Juliano’s death. This is the kind of unsettling coincidence that still gives me goosebumps because of its intensity. Intensity, I wager, is how anyone who ever met or knew Jul would describe him.
Meanwhile, the young Palestinian who collaborated with him are continuing their efforts at the Freedom Theatre.
We came very close to collapsing amid all the confusion and fear but we have managed to ride through the storm.
Requiescat in pace.
◊ ◊ ◊
Today the Palestinian rap and hip-hop group DAM posted ‘Juliano’s Way,’ a musical track in remembrance of Juliano featuring his students. It is a moving tribute, and frankly, it proves difficult viewing as his coffin is carried atop waves of friends, comrades, and collaborators, a Palestinian flag flying high and undaunted above it.
From this day on we aren’t just revolutionaries, we are artists.