Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Juliano Mer-Khamis R.I.P

Juliano Mer-Khamis was the son of a Jewish-Israeli father and Christian-Arab mother. He declared himself 100% Israeli and 100% Palestinian. He was a highly successful film actor (see a list of his movies and a bio of his life here) and could be forgiven for sitting back and enjoying the fruits of his success.

Instead, he sought to produce documentaries and films to help each side understand the other. Five years ago, Mer-Khamis  created a team that included Zakaria Zubeidi, a former military leader of the Jenin Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Jonatan Stanczak, Swedish-Israeli activist, and Dror Feiler, Swedish-Israeli artist. Together they established The Freedom Theatre.

The Freedom Theatre remains today a community theater that uses drama to develop skills, self-knowledge and confidence for the children and youth of the Jenin Refugee Camp, through  using the creative process as a model for positive social change.

On April 4th, masked gunmen shot and killed Mer-Khamis in front of The Freedom Theatre. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the killing saying that “We cannot stand silent in the face of this ugly crime, it constitutes a grave violation that goes beyond all principles and human values and it contravenes with the customs and ethics of co-existence.”

There are simply not enough men and women willing to stand up for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The students who I blogged about a month ago that are trying to create a peaceful solution were beaten and had their Tent of Peace burned, all while police watched from the side, only interceding to have the extremists wait for three students to leave the tent before allowing them to set it on fire.

World media barely mentioned it. It barely acknowledged the murder of Mer-Khamis. Until governments and activists around the world show support for the moderate majority in Israel and Palestine, they will not believe they have the support to create a sustainable peace.

Sometimes it takes more than Facebook.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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