Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Israeli Special Forces Attack Jenin's Freedom Theatre

There is Only One Response to this Outrage - Step Up the Boycott of Israeli 'Culture'

Like thieves in the night, Israeli special forces launched an attack against the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, whose Director Juliano-Meir Hamis was murdered earlier this year.

This is not the first such attack. In May 2009 Israeli police closed the Palestinian Festival of Literature because it was ‘political’. Israel’s supporters in the West froth at the mouth when mention is made of a cultural boycott. None more so than Jonathan Freedland who sees in a Boycott shades of the armed SA siege of Jewish shops in Nazi Germany on April 1 1933.

However when it comes to the incessant attacks by Israeli military forces and police on Palestinian cultural phenomenon, not the peaceful picketting and persuasion of Palestinian supporters but armed physical attacks, then Freedland and others remain shtum, silent, look the other way.

The attack last night on Jenin’s famous Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp is an outrage, as is the arrest of 2 of its workers. No doubt some excuse or other will be dredged up, as is normally the case when Israel justifies its most recent barbarity. They will no doubt he found to have been a ‘terrorist theatre’ ‘inciting’ the occupied Palestinians to do something they wouldn’t normally do, i.e. resist the occupation.

And the Jewish Chronicle, were it to mention the above outrage, would no doubt be brimming over with special pleading.

But we should take full advantage of this attack to expose the utter hypocrisy of those who oppose a Boycott of Israel and all its works. Those who launch armed attacks against the theatres and cultural festivals of an oppressed people cannot then claim that culture and politics have nothing to do with each other or even more grotesquely to claim that there is any similarity between BDS and the Nazi ‘Boycott’ in fact siege of Jews in Germany. In fact, the Nazi attitude to Jewish culture exactly mirrored that of the Israeli state today.

Tony Greenstein

Israeli Special Forces Attack and Damage Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 07:41 Freedom Theatre Foundation

Special forces of the Israeli army attacked the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp at approximately 03:30 this morning (27 July).

Ahmad Nasser Matahen, a night guard and technician student at the theatre, was awakened by heavy blocks of stone being hurled at the theatre by soldiers; several windows were shattered. As he opened the door he found masked and heavily armed Israeli soldiers around the theatre.

Ahmed says that the army threw heavy blocks of stone at the theatre, “they told me to open the door to the theatre. They told me to raise my hands and forced me to take my pants down. I thought my time had come, that they would kill me. My brother that was with me was handcuffed.“

The location manager of The Freedom Theatre, Adnan Naghnaghiye, was arrested and taken away to an unknown location together with Bilal Saadi, a member of the board of The Freedom Theatre. When the general manager of the theatre Jacob Gough from the UK and the co-founder of the theatre Jonatan Stanczak from Sweden arrived to the scene, they were forced at gunpoint to squat next to a family with four small children surrounded by approximately 50 heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

Jonatan says: “Whenever we tried to tell them that they are attacking a cultural venue and arresting members of the theatre we were told to shut up and they threatened to kick us. I tried to contact the civil administration of the army to clarify the matter but the person in charge hung up on me.“

For more information please contact:

Jacob Gough at +972 (0)59 534 83 91

By ETHAN BRONNER Published: July 27, 2011

JERUSALEM — Israeli commandos stormed a famous Palestinian theater in the West Bank early Wednesday, arresting two men associated with it and damaging the building, a witness said.

The Freedom Theater in Jenin, in the northern West Bank, had been an oasis of so-called cultural resistance for decades although it was in the news for a darker reason in April when its director, Juliano Mer Khamis, was shot dead by masked gunmen just outside it.

An army spokeswoman would confirm only that two men were arrested near the theater but gave no details on why the arrests took place or whether they were related to Mr. Mer Khamis’s killing, which remains unsolved.

The witness, Jacob Gough, who has been managing the theater on an interim basis, said he was called there about 3 a.m. Wednesday and saw several dozen Israeli soldiers throwing rocks at the windows and then arresting Adnan Naghnaghiye, a technician and site director for the theater. Other troops went nearby to the house of Bilal Saadi, the chairman of the theater’s board, and arrested him after destroying the windows of his house, Mr. Gough added.

“I have been at the theater for three years and I have never seen anything like this,” he said by telephone from Jenin. “We’ve never had this kind of treatment.”

The soldiers, he said, ordered the two men to remove their trousers and lift their shirts. When he asked what was happening, Mr. Gough said, he was told to be quiet in harsh terms and at gunpoint.

He said the men arrested were taken to separate prisons and a lawyer had been hired to work on their cases.

Mr. Mer Khamis, 52, was a world-renowned actor and director who was born to an Israeli Jewish mother and a Palestinian Christian father. An Israeli citizen, he had lived for seven years in Jenin. His mother, a peace activist, founded the theater. A film Mr. Mer Khamis made about her work, “Arna’s Children,” received wide international praise.

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