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Action Request: Jenin / The Freedom Theatre

Jenin Freedom Theatre Under Siege!

In our Tree of Life journeys, we’ve been honored to visit The Jenin Freedom Theatre situated in the northern Palestinian city of Jenin. There we were able to witness first-hand the amazing work they do. While we were there, highly trained Palestinian actors stood on the stage and invited audience members to share stories and personal experiences that had been painful to them, and then with remarkable improvisational skills, the actors acted out what they had heard, allowing the members of the audience to see-themselves-outside-of-themselves, to feel the stories they had shared and perhaps gain some deeper understanding, perhaps even transcendence by virtue of seeing their stories acted out.
Throughout our travels in the West Bank, we’ve seen how important artistic expression is to the Palestinian people. In Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, they have a program called “Beautiful Resistance” in which young people participate in music, dance, fine arts, creative writing and theatre as a way of not only acting out their emotions but also and even more as a way of creatively resisting the forces of occupation in all its ugly manifestations.
Arna Mer KhamisThe Jenin Freedom Theatre, started by Arna Mer Khamis, has been an extraordinary example of the power of theatre, and I think we all can recall our own experience of that power. During Apartheid South Africa, it was the powerful plays of Athol Fugard that I saw at Yale Repertory Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven and the Market Theatre in Johannesburg that first inspired me to be more actively engaged in the struggle against Apartheid. Likewise, it was one line from a production of “King Lear” that we saw in London that inspired me to become involved in Habitat for Humanity. King Lear, having lost his empire and all his belongings regained his longing-to-be,his longing for his deeper humanity, as he stood out in the storm and offered a prayer, thinking of someone else for the first time in his life:
Poor naked wretches wheresoer you are that bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, how shall your houseless heads and unfed sides preserve you from seasons such as these?
I think about this prayer as I hear the news reports of the “pitiless storm” that Israel has perpetrated against the people of Jenin. With its overwhelming military power, countless Palestinians have seen their homes and their places of business demolished, and The Freedom Theatre itself has been targeted and reduced to rubble.
I find it a cruel irony that since 1832, the military has used the word “theatre” to describe a base of operation. For Israel that cruel, bizarre, grotesque “theatre” has been the city of Jenin. If ever there was a time for improvisational theatre, now is the time. Now is the time for all of us to get up out of the audience and stand on the world stage, in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters. Please read the report below from the The Jenin Freedom Theatre. Such crimes against the Palestinian people would not be possible without the $3.8 billion dollars per year our country gives to the State of Israel.
Due to our passivity Israel has expanded its “theatre” to include not only the West Bank, Gaza and occupied Syria in the Golan but that “theatre” also includes our White House and the Halls of Congress where our elected officials have done little more than “study the situation.” Sadly, that “theatre” also includes far too many of our faith communities that fail to see that their own humanity is a stake.
Now is the time for all of us to get up out of the audience, and using whatever our own improvisational skills might be, work together to bring an end to the violence, over there and over here, and to work together for a more just and peaceful human family.

Use your voice, and tell your member of Congress to condemn Israel’s military invasion of Jenin.


David W. Good
David W. Good
Founder, Tree of Life Educational Fund

Messages from Friends of
The Jenin Freedom Theatre

We ask you to write to your representatives and demand they STOP ENABLING Israeli impunity.  
Please also send us messages of love/encouragement to pass along to our friends in Jenin.
– The Freedom Theatre USA, friends@thefreedomtheatre.org
July 3, 2023
Here are a few updates on the current situation re: Jenin/The Freedom Theatre, and below please read and share our statement.
1. The Israeli army blew the entrance of The Freedom Theatre at approx. 02:00 this morning. They took the Naghnaghiye family to the theatre stage including the father of the 14-year old Sadeel that was killed by the army last week, and Adnan, the technical manager of The Freedom Theatre. They locked the entire family including elders and children inside the theatre and interrogated them there. Some members were held until the late morning.
2. Adnan was taken by the army and there’s no further news on his status.
3. The road outside the theatre has been destroyed and all people living in the surrounding neighbourhood have fled to Jenin, the area is empty of people and much of the infrastructure is damaged.
4. A TFT staff member and her mother are locked inside their apartment by soldiers that have confiscated it. They have taken their mobile phones and they have no way of communicating at this point.
5. It is impossible to enter the camp to verify or gather information. All roads to the camp are closed by the army. Mustafa tried to enter this morning but was unable.
6. Further information on TFT, if the theatre has been damaged, things stolen, etc. is impossible to know at this stage

Statement from The Friends of The Jenin Freedom Theatre

The Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre, an organization that has supported The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Occupied Palestine, since its founding 17 years ago, is outraged at the massive Israeli army attacks on Jenin refugee camp and The Freedom Theatre, the major cultural institution in the northern West Bank. While it is impossible to assess the true extent of the damage while the Israeli army bars entrance to the camp, we know rockets were fired into the Theatre’s courtyard and the Theatre was broken into and occupied by Israeli troops. We know the camp infrastructure — streets, sewers, electricity — has been destroyed. We know many have been killed, more injured, and hundreds arrested. This nightmarish invasion has blocked ambulances and assistance to civilians, interrupted electricity and water service, terrorized inhabitants, and forced thousands to flee their homes. There can be no excuse for this war on a civilian population. There can be no excuse for reckless attacks on cultural institutions. The Israeli actions are war crimes.
We are equally outraged that our government’s main reaction is to repeat well-worn, empty phrases about Israel’s “right to defend itself” to cover up its unstinting support for Israeli aggression. If the US government truly objected to this murderous collective punishment expedition, it could stop it overnight. Israeli land thefts, settler violence, military raids, and thousands of arrests are the authors of the resistance from a people simply insisting on their right to live in dignity. Israel is not defending itself, it is, as Israeli politicians have made so clear recently, embarked on an all out attempt to drive Palestinians out of their homeland and annex more territory.
In light of Israel’s constant disregard of its humanitarian obligations as a signer of the Fourth Geneva convention, we insist the US end its enabling of Israeli impunity and the funding of $3.8+ billion/year of our U.S. tax dollars of Israel’s out-of-control military.

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