Manager of the Freedom Theatre
MB: You describe that things are really crazy, of course. I’m sure people are running around, you’re speaking with people—what’s been going on the last 3 or 4 days since we last spoke in the wake of Juliano’s murder. Can you describe what’s been happening?
N: Well, for now, we are just mourning. We have one month of closing down the Theatre for mourning and arranging the administration work and the artistic side of the Freedom Theatre. And we’re trying to figure out with the PA if, you know, who is behind the crime and who did this, which way, what is the reason? We decided whatever, whoever was behind this, whoever was the criminal against, he did this crime against culture and art. And we are gathering ourselves—all of this stuff in Palestine—and the cultural associations to be together and to gather ourselves and to scream and say, like, “this is a crime against artists.” It’s not only against the Palestinian normal people, but people working in different fields.
MB: So you’ve been in communication with the Palestinian Authority. How has that been going? Have they made progress on the investigation?
N: Up till now we don’t know anything, actually. They’re still working and we are following up with them in every direction that the investigation went and what is the results what is the line, are there any results or not? Nothing really new, nothing is really there.
MB: Do they have a suspect in the crime?
N: No no, of course not. It’s not really clear. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not clear who’s behind that. It’s not clear who was responsible for that crime.
MB: As far as your discussions have gone with the Palestinian Authority, does it seem like they’re doing a good job in this? I understand that they took control of the investigation immediately from the Israelis. Have they been doing a good job in the investigation?
N: It’s not true because the Israeli truck actually drove immediately after the crime happened. The Israelis came half an hour or an hour after the crime happened and asked the Palestinian Authorities to give them the car, the computer, the body, everything. Now they say that they don’t want to do anything about the investigation and they are asking the Palestinian Authority to follow up with whatever they have there. So this is all on the side of the Israelis. The Palestinian Authority is not taking over, it is the opposite actually. It’s the Israelis closing down everything, every possibility of helping in any way in finding out who is behind the crime or finding out proof or something. It is actually the Palestinian Authority…I mean we’re asking ourselves, “is the Palestinian Authority really ready to investigate this sort of crime or not?” I am sure they are doing their best, but what they can do? Whatever, what they can do? Nothing.
MB: Now, looking out one month into the future, what will the Theatre be doing for the next several weeks, do you have a plan?
N: I already told you we are closing down for mourning and we are arranging ourselves and looking forward to see what is our plan. It’s not clear and it’s not possible to tell for now.
MB: You mentioned as well that this attack, this murder, was an attack on arts in Palestine. But I understand also that the Theatre was a form of resistance, is that correct? So is this an attack on peaceful resistance, what is the meaning of this action?
N: The people at the Freedom Theatre decided that this is a new way of resistance through art. Resistance means everything that can help the people including [against] the Israeli occupation…including every limit of freedom. This is a crime. This crime happened maybe because people who don’t understand art or this is in a way the image they want to present, but behind that there is a lot of question marks. I really mentioned that before—big question mark because the people who did this are not ready to announce that “we did it because of immoral work or because maybe the Freedom Theatre is presenting something against the culture or the tradition.” But also, as I said, there is a big question mark behind that, maybe bigger than we can imagine. That’s why I mentioned before that Juliano himself, the way that he was struggling…it comes from the mind like Martin Luther King...it’s bigger than you can imagine. This is the expectation. I don’t want to mention something that I don’t know….
MB: What other institutions in the West Bank are partnering with you now that this tragedy has transpired? Who are you in communication with?
MB: [repeat question]
N: With actually…we are friends with all the cultural associations, theaters around the West Bank. I cannot say that this is a direct cooperation with one of them, but we are always cooperating with those…giving space for them to show, maybe also speaking with them, sharing some ideas. This is the cooperation that we do, but it is nothing really specific. I can’t say that this is a cooperation with that theater or with this cultural association. We did our best before and we will do our best to continue the cooperation in all the ways that we can.
MB: Now, hopefully in the next several minutes I’ll have the chance to speak with Zakaria….what exactly was Zakaria’s role at the Theatre and what do you think his role will be in the future?
N: What, Sorry?
MB: [repeat question]
N: Zakaria is always part of the Theatre. He was supporting the idea of the Theatre. You know, Juliano is not only the General Manager of the Freedom Theatre, we have friends and he was his best friend. Zakaria also turned and was looking at what was Juliano’s doing and our doing at the Freedom Theatre from this kind of work in art. He also supported the Freedom Theatre with all the things and all the possibilities that he had. And he explained to the whole world, sometimes with some interviews and to most of the people that were speaking with him, that the role of the Theatre is more [important], more than weapons. This is his role right now. We are in a big shock, in a deep sadness. We are hopefully going to continue and find ourselves again doing whatever we can and he will do whatever he can
MB: Thank you so much for your time, Nabeel, I know that you’re really busy so this is great.