Exactly one year ago on 4 April, revolutionary activist, director, and actor, Juliano Mer-Khamis, was shot dead by masked gunmen outside the Freedom Theatre in Jenin that he founded and nurtured. His work there positively impacted the lives of many Palestinian children mostly from Jenin’s refugee camp, and his killing was a shock.
Now, Palestinian hip hop group, DAM, has released a new single and commemorating Juliano’s life and calling for those responsible for the murder to be found and prosecuted. It is titled “Juliano’s Way.”
The song features Juliano’s students speaking phrases remembering their mentor. It consists of three main rap parts each sung by DAM’s members Suheil Nafar, Tamer Nafar, and Mahmood Jreiri; besides the rap, the song features sampled parts from Benny Mardone’s classic song “Into the Night.”
I got in touch with DAM member Tamer Nafar to get a deeper idea about their song and their relationship with Juliano. “The message is find the killers,” told me. He added that the video intended to highlight Juliano’s ordinary life, his work, and funeral to show that the person who shot him is just one, but those who believed in Juliano’s work are thousands.
Tamer said that Juliano’s legacy isn’t necessarily in his specific work in Jenin; it also lies in his passion and vision as he worked in Jenin. “We don’t need someone that follows Jul as Jul, but you need someone that will have that same vision,” Tamer explained, “I have it in Hip Hop, others in drawings and we need someone that has that same passion for Jenin and theater.”
Juliano Mer-Khamis was a man who put his words and beliefs into action, in Tamer’s view. He gave the example of DAM’s 2004 song “Born Here” which was directed by Juliano and resembles the idea of rap lyrics turning into action.
Tamer also recalled that Juliano’s most well-known film, Arna’s Children “was made in the middle of the 2002 massacre.”
“Jul didn’t use the cliché ‘My art is my weapon,’” Tamer observed, “he was surrounded by weapons during his film, he left the luxuries of life, left Haifa, left the Israeli cinema and went to a place that you would want to leave. He was a man of action, he showed that there isn’t a line between writing, filming, drawing it and living it.”
The song can also be downloaded for free from here.