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Jenin Freedom Theatre: MPT Saddened at Murder, Arrests

MPT teams have visited The Freedom Theater (a theatre and cultural centre in Jenin Refugee Camp) many times, and enjoyed meeting with Artistic Director Nabil Al-Raee, a respected artist and community member.

We are saddened to learn that today Mr. Al-Raee was taken from his home by Israeli military, and his family cannot find out his whereabouts.

To learn more about MPT's visits to the TFT, you can read previous team reports at:

According to a release by the Theater today (June 6th 2012), Nabil Al-Raee's family is very concerned for his well being and whereabouts.  The TFT news release quotes Micaele Miranda, Nabil's wife:

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.

The release goes on to say:

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. 

MPT is particularly saddened to hear that this strong community leadership program, education program, and children's center is facing so many challenges.  We know that 2011 was also an incredibly difficult year for The Freedom Theatre.  Juliano Mer Khamis, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre, was murdered in April 2011.  A statement on the organization's website today says, "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.  [The Freedome Theater] will carry on his message to promote freedom--not only for the Palestinian people but for all human beings.  As Juliano would say: The Revolution must go on!"

Read more about the months following Juliano's death from the Palestinian Monitor.

You can read more on both events, and the programs available at TFT at: http://thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=238.


Reports from IFPB & MPT Team in Training

While MPT works on always improving our programs, and readies the next team of our own to Palestine, we thought our readers would be interested to hear some first-hand stories of internationals in Palestine during the month of May 2012.

Here is an except:

In Sderot we listened to an Israeli woman, Nomika Zion, who has lived in Sderot for 25 years in the collective community of which she is an original member. She spoke of the "Safe Room" in her house that is a bomb shelter, and said the State requires all homes built in Israel to have one. Given the way the state has chosen to live with its neighbors, it probably makes sense. The idea of all Jewish Israelis having a "safe room", when Palestinians are the ones under rather constant bombardment is ironic beyond bearing. What privilege and what fear-mongering.

She seemed a good woman, and certainly is a brave woman, for she has always spoken out against Israel's attacks on Gaza. She spoke for a long time about what it is like there, how they had good Palestinian friends from Gaza for many years, and how people on both sides of the border crossed regularly to shop and visit in each other's towns.

She was honest about Israel breaking various cease fires, and of her conflict as Summer Rains 2006 and Cast Lead 2009/10 happened. She said she had to support her army even though she was against the attacks. She called them wars, but in fact, they were not - only one side had weapons.... 

For more of these reports, visit: http://www.ifpb.org/del40/report3.html.

To learn more about the amazing organization Interfaith Peace-Builders, who send regular delegations to Israel/Palestine, visit: www.ifpb.org.