Voices of the Middle East and North Africa

Voices of the Middle East and North Africa – May 4, 2011

In this week’s program, we hear a conversation with Juliano Mer Khamis, leading Palestinian rights activist, actor, filmmaker and Artistic Director of Freedom Theater in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West bank. He was shot to death in Jenin last month as he was leaving the theatre. In this interview that was recorded six years prior to his tragic death, Juliano Mer Khamis talks about his award-winning film, Arna’s Children, which he and Danniel Danniel co-directed.

 The interview captures many moving details that are not contained in this important and powerful documentary that follows the lives of several Palestinian children in the Jenin refugee camp from their childhood years in the early 1990’s to the second Intifada.

These children join a theater group established by Juliano’s mother, Arna Mer Khamis, a progressive Jewish Israeli activist and a sculptor. Years later, when they become teens, they are lined up again, this time as posters on a wall showing the pictures of Palestinian fighters who died around the time of the Battle for Jenin in 2002. Why did Yousif commit a suicide attack in Hadera? How did Ala become the leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin? What happened to the other children?  In his conversation with U.C. Berkeley History Professor Beshara Doumani, Juliano Mer Khamis discusses many new and very moving details not contained in his film.

During the program, we will also hear selections from the music CD The Collection by Lena Chamamyan, a young Syrian artist of Armenian descent who has captured the hearts of audiences in the region with her amazing voice.

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