30 June 2012

The Freedom Theatre in Jenin - Still Under Israel Attack - Silence from the Literary Mafia

The Hypocrites and Prostitutes of Pundits like Jonathan Freedland & Aaronovitch

There are no greater hypocrites than the pundits and prostitutes of the spoken word – the Jonathan Freedlands and David Aaronovitches – who wax lyrical about the terrors of the Cultural Boycott whilst turning a blind eye to the ongoing attacks of Israel’s war machine against all manifestations of Palestinian culture.  The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, whose Director Julian Meir Khamis was murdered last year, is a case in point.

In the words of Stanley Baldwin it is“Power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.” But Boycott the Habima Theatre Production in London or the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in the Albert Hall and civilisation as we know it has all but come to an end.
This is a good example of the racist hypocrisy of western imperialism.  Don’t do to us what we are allowed to do to you.  The same arguments were made over the Cultural Boycott of South Africa and the Freedlands of the day were spouting the same nonsense then as now. 
In fact a Cultural Boycott is one of our strongest weapons.  No one seriously thinks that an economic boycott, at least in the short-term is going to pay dividends.  The backing of the United States will see to that.  But the Cultural Boycott is different.  It undermines the psyche of the coloniser, it affects their morale, just as it did in South Africa.   

That is why Gilad Atzmon and his anti-Semitic rotweiller, Sarah Gillespie, are as fervent in their opposition to the Cultural Boycott as any Zionist.  Gillespie recently wrote on Atzmon’s ‘deLiberation site’  under a picture of Stalin that 'the BDS Cultural and academic boycott ...  is not principled, & it lacks integrity. By refusing to have the argument you have lost the argument.’ 

By the same ticket by boycotting South African Apartheid and disrupting those who came from the laager we had lost the argument!  In reality Atzmon and co. don’t wish to make any sacrifices for the cause they allegedly support unlike people like Miriam Margolyes.

The question I always ask is what would have been your reaction to the tour of Hitler’s apologists – the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra and its world famous director Wilhelm Furtwangler.  Would you have welcomed them too?  Atzmon would, to be sure.  Would the Zionists?  Yes they also would have had no difficulty, double confirmation we are right!

Tony Greenstein

Nabil al-Ree
As reported by Mondoweiss, last night at 3am, Israeli troops entered the home of Nabil Al Raee, Artistic Director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, and arrested him at gunpoint, giving him and his wife no explanation for their actions, and terrifying his three-year old daughter. He is currently being held in a nearby military prison.
Jenin is in Zone A of the West Bank, under Palestinian control and administration, and this arrest by the IDF violates the Oslo Accords.  To be arrested without charge also violates Nabil Al Raee’s human rights.

British Writers in Support of Palestine condemns in unequivocal terms this violent, illegal and repressive act, which is part of a systematic campaign of intimidation clearly directed at the Freedom Theatre itself.   For the last three weeks Freedom Theatre co-founder Zakaria Zubeidi has been held without charge in a prison in Jericho.  The IDF investigation of the murder of founding Artistic Director Juliano Mer Khamis has only ever been directed at Freedom Theatre Staff, and has now been officially closed, ignoring significant forensic evidence.

British Writers in Support of Palestine demands a full and proper investigation into the murder of 
Juliano Mer Khamis, and the immediate release of Nabil Al Raee and Zakaria Zubeidi, neither of whom have been charged with any crime.  We thank our colleagues in the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign for their comprehensive statement placing these recent arrests in the context of the increasing abuse of Palestinian prisoners by Israeli military courts.  With the IPSC we call for the end of Israel’s policy of Administrative Detention and its Unlawful Combatants Law, by means of which Israel interns people without charge; and demand that Israeli courts treat all Palestinian prisoners in accordance with international law, and free all Palestinian political prisoners.

Our thoughts are with Nabil and Zakaria and their families and friends at this dark and uncertain time.
Press Release from The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, northern West Bank June 6, 2012

At approximately 03:15 am the Israeli army entered the home of Nabil Al-Raee, the Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, and took him to an unknown location.

Julian's Students
Nabil’s wife, Micaela Miranda explains what happened: “The dog started barking so I went outside and saw soldiers jumping over the gate and come into the yard of the house. They asked for my husband and I asked what for, that it’s my right to know and it’s my house. The soldiers replied that they were not going to tell me. They then took Nabil, brought him to an army jeep and drove off. We are very worried because we don’t know where they took him and why.”

Jonatan Stanczak, Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre: “I live on the floor above Nabil and when I heard what was happening I tried to go down to talk to the soldiers because I speak Hebrew. The house was surrounded by masked Israeli soldiers and three of them immediately pointed their weapons at me and pushed me back into the house.”

Attempts were immediately made to contact the District Coordination Office of the Israeli army but to no avail. More than half the employees of The Freedom Theatre were recently called to interrogations by the Israeli army, including Nabil Al-Raee. All came to the appointments as scheduled and answered to their best of their knowledge the given questions even though they were intimidated and even threatened.

Jonatan Stanczak continues: “I don’t understand why they do this after they know they could simply have made a phone call to Nabil and he would have come to answer any questions or concerns that they might have. Since this has happened so many times in the past, I can’t interpret it as anything else than an ongoing harassment of the employees of The Freedom Theatre and their families by the Israeli army.”

At this point it is unclear if any other members of The Freedom Theatre have been taken during the night. Several of them have not responded to phone calls.

A Tribute to Juliano

2011 was a devastating year for The Freedom Theatre. In April, Juliano Mer Khamis, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre and its visionary leader, was murdered. We staff and members of The Freedom Theatre, will not forget and we will not cease to demand, unconditionally, that those responsible for Juliano's death be brought to justice. Just as The Freedom Theatre was built on the inspiration and legacy of Arna, Juliano's mother, so will its future work be built on the legacy of Juliano. It will carry on his message to promote freedom-not only for the Palestinian people but for all human beings. We are mourning, but we will continue our resistance through art, continue our struggle, continue to do our better than best. As Juliano would say: The Revolution must go on!
"You don't have to heal the children in Jenin. We are not trying to heal their violence. We try to challenge it into more productive ways. And more productive ways are not an alternative to resistance. What we are doing in the theatre is not trying to be a replacement or an alternative to the resistance of the Palestinians in the struggle for liberation, just the opposite. This must be clear. I know it's not good for fundraising, because I'm not a social worker, I'm not a good Jew going to help the Arabs, and I'm not a philanthropic Palestinian who comes to feed the poor. We are joining, by all means, the struggle for liberation of the Palestinian people, which is our liberation struggle. We're not healers. We're not good Christians. We are freedom fighters."
Juliano Mer Khamis, 1958-2011

"The revolutionary message will not pass away. It will come storming the yellow sands and the mountains covered by almond trees...from here, from the Freedom Theatres stage, where men were and are made to be free and engaged in the cultural revolutionary battle for freedom. In thousands of silences only one voice is raising up; it's the freedom fighters, to whom you taught how to carry the cultural gun on their shoulders. Juliano, your mother's children have passed away, your mother, Arna, has passed away and so did you-but your children are going to stay, following your path on the way to the freedom battle, and we will go on with your revolution's promise, the Jasmine revolution."
Juliano's students

"I think it was 1989, we were in Geneva attending one of the international women conferences, trying to make bridges and common action against Israeli occupation. We were a group of palestinian, israelies and international women, among the israelies there was Arna. I was taken by her love for humanity and by her sharp vision. Not all the israelies liked her, she was too radical for some of them, but i immediately felt she was unique. We talked about our life and she spoke about Juliano, she was proud of her son. I met Juliano many years later, when he presented Arna's film in Jerusalem to the Women in Black International conference. After the film, we all danced and i finded a pipe fo water, we started to throw water to each other and we were jocking like child. He also was unique. The freedom of his thought, the determination to deal with his plurime identity, his frankness that sometime sound rudness, but also his humanity and kindness. A real human, being able to face also his contraddictions. I admired his committment to go back to Jenin and among the ruines to rebuild this time not the Stone Theatre but the Freedom Theatre. I felt so honored, privileged and moved when he ask me to be part of the Freedom Theatre foundation. When he was killed, the pain for his loss was immense and is still there. I thought about the people of the Theatre, about Zakaria and all the people he lost. But we are still here and resist, resist the military occupation, the occupation of the mind and the fanatics who killed Juliano. Art is freedom, culture is freedom. Juliano is with us and the Jenin Freedom Theatre lives."
Luisa Morgantini
former Vice President of the European Parliament
Spokeperson of the Italian Peace Association

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