Palestinian Committee blames Israeli occupation alone for Mer Khamis murder

By solely condemning the Israeli occupation for the murder, the Bil’in Popular Committee is sending both sides an unfortunate message

The morning after the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, the Bil’in Popular Committee, led by Iyad Burnat, put out a statement expressing its sorrow over the tragic event. In the statement, the Israeli occupation is held “accountable and fully responsible” for the murder, since it is seen as part of the “escalation of politics exercised by Israeli occupation.” The statement goes on to reiterate the values of civil disobedience and peaceful means for ending the occupation, and emphasizes that the committee is not “against Jews in the world.”

The popular committees against the wall and israeli occupation express their deep sadness and sorrow to the murder that happened in Jenine today against the activist and director Juliano. The popular committees see this act as part of the escalation politics exercised by israeli occupation. These politics permits such horrific acts. Therefore, we hold the israeli occupation accountable and fully responsible for such acts. The popular committeeis committed to peaceful combativeness and civil disobedience to end the Israeli occupation and that everyone must be aware that our goal not to kill. We are not against Jews in the world. We are against the occupation and our goal to live in freedom and dignity like the rest of the world. Regardless that this act was committed on an occupied land , we believe that the killing of Juliano only serves Israeli interests.

Nowhere in the statement does the committee also include the need for Palestinians to assume responsibility for the act, or condemn the fact that Juliano was repeatedly threatened with his life and his theater firebombed by local residents who disapproved of his liberalism. Juliano Mer Khamis’s fight for freedom was not solely against occupation, but against all forces of discrimination and oppression, including those ingrained in Palestinian society.

By solely blaming the Israeli occupation for the murder, the Bil’in Popular Committee is sending the unfortunate message that Palestinians are the object of Israel and its occupation, thereby eternalizing their dependence on Israel for self-determination. For Palestinians to empower themselves and truly achieve independence, they must be able to take responsibility for what happens in their society and face their own demons in order to prevail. If nothing else, this is the legacy Juliano Mer Khamis has left the Palestinian people.

While the 44-year Israeli occupation is certainly responsible for a continued mentality of trauma, aggression and violence in the West Bank, there are also other elements at work here, such as intolerance regarding sexuality, gender and religion amongst Palestinians themselves. Even if one believes the violent elements within Palestinian society are entirely a product of Israeli occupation, Palestinians cannot expect Israel to heal and expunge it for them.

It would have therefore been nice to hear the Bil’in Popular Committee also express some self-criticism and introspection regarding the murder, and to make clear that whoever committed the murder, whether Israeli or Palestinian, are part of the same devastating forces that keep this region in turmoil. This is called for specifically because the residents of Bil’in have been so integral in changing the way Palestinians think about resistance to the occupation, and for their success at drawing the world’s attention to the legitimate Palestinian struggle.