Mer-Khamis’s widow speaks to ‘Haaretz’

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Juliano Mer Khamis
Juliano Mer Khamis

This is disturbing, an interview with Jenny Nyman, widow of Juliano Mer Khamis, right, the actor/director who was murdered outside his theater in Jenin last April. In Haaretz. The interviewer is Gili Izikovich:

“He was murdered because of the values of tradition and conservatism. It’s a traditional society. And I think there are some people who have a big interest in preserving the status quo – the very patriarchal, conservative status quo. And the theater was threatened. When we staged ‘Animal Farm’ they tried to burn it down, on two occasions. We always walked a very thin line, and we worked hard to get the community on board and to explain to them. We tried to show that it is a means of expression that can be useful to children, to learn how to stand up for themselves and to speak. The theater was becoming more and more successful, and I think somehow the success was what brought it down.”

Are you still active in it?

“Now I don’t have any connection, I can’t have any connection with the theater or with Jenin – so long as nobody’s cooperating with the investigation, or speaking out. There was no public outrage in Jenin against this act, no condemnation was voiced. People should have the courage to stand up in public and say this is wrong. If that were the situation, I wouldn’t have a problem to be in touch or to help them … But what I saw was people who bowed their heads even lower, [went] down on their knees, and said, ‘Okay, just don’t kill me. I will say what you want me to say, just don’t shoot me.’

“It’s like saying, it’s okay to kill somebody for their ideas, we’ll just modify the discourse a little bit if you let us carry on. For me, this is a very big disappointment. It feels like a failure. If you asked Jul [what he would feel] in a similar situation, he would say: ‘Screw them, we’ll close the doors and go work somewhere else where people want us.’

“One of his favorite expressions was, ‘It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.’ And that is what he did, and if they forced him down on his knees he would have left. So he died on his feet, but at least he wasn’t a hypocrite. And I’m not going to be either.

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