In a recent Crossing the Line podcast, Seth Porcello interviewed Juliano Mer-Khamis, a director of the Freedom Theater in the Jenin refugee camp, a theater for children. Mer-Khamis gives us these solemn words of wisdom:
The Palestinian people are going to be cut into fragments, which has already been done. They are gonna be surrounded by walls and fences, electric ones, with tanks around, and a lot of missiles from Apaches, like happening in Gaza. There are gonna be massacres in the future because people are not going to sit quit, they are going to march to the fence and try to break down the checkpoints…I see no future, I see no hope, I see no even bits of light in the coming, I believe, three, four, five years. What I see is bloodshed of suicide bombers and massacres like happening in Gaza and much worse.
There’s two ways to deal with this conflict: either you surrender or you struggle. Struggling is not something that you can discuss upon the results or make speculation how it will come out, you just struggle. Because if you don’t struggle you surrender…I think, the Palestinians, one of the main phenomena, they are still struggling and not surrendering and I want to be part of this struggle, in my tools. There struggle is my struggle. I’m not a good person who is going to help the “poor Arabs” or the “poor kids.” I’m joining them hand by hand, because Zionism is also my enemy, my dream is to live together, Arab, Jews, in one free democratic country and Zionism is exactly the opposite. Zionism is all about ghettoing people into walls, it is about separation, it is about ethnic racism.
What happen in Jenin, in Palestine, which does not happen elsewhere is a culture of death which is growing. And what is culture of death? Because of the imbalance of powers between the Israelis and the Palestinians the main tool of the Palestinians against the Israelis…is their ability to die. Now this is a very dangerous thing, to build a resistance on the ability to die creates a very hopeless perspective…We have a whole generation who wants to be shahids, not because they are incited or because they are brainwashed, no, no, no, this is the Western interpretation. Because they know that if they want to resist the occupation they will face death. And this imbalance between the Israelis and the Palestinians everyone who will resist the occupation will die and either he suicide inside Israel or either he suicide outside Israel.
Any kind of resistance, today, the name of the game in this region; as long as the Palestinian puts a gun on his neck, hangs a gun, even if this gun doesn’t shoot, the Israelis have the OK to kill him. This is the concerns within Israel, this is the concerns within the world. They call it “militants, armed people were killed.” Once you are armed you are a terrorist once you are a terrorist it is OK to kill you.
I do believe in guerrilla fighting. I don’t think the pen and the camera and the stage can replace the gun. They are both legitimate tools against the occupation…Guns has no value against Apaches and tanks. Guns has value when they shoot at the right targets and this can be only where those fighters and where those guns are backed withe knowledge, with culture, with discourse, with free discourse, with theater, with music, with revolutionary songs as we saw in different places in the world. And Israel knows that and Israel is working very hard to eliminate any kind of different resistance: destroying networks, computers, libraries, has one purpose, one purpose, to push those people into only the guns and the mosques because it is very easy to fight this kind of enemy…And that’s why I think the culture resistance or the struggle for culture for basic humanelements of life are very important today.