The assassination of Juliano Mer-Khamis, who was a well known Israeli Arab actor and film producer who moved to live in the West Bank to help Palestinians establish a theater, has seriously embarrassed the Palestinian Authority. Although its leaders rushed to condemn the murder as a despicable act, the Palestinian Authority should be held responsible for such crimes due to its continued campaign to combat any form of normalization with Israel.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority chooses to endorse anti-normalization campaigns with Israel, paving the way for threats and violence against well-meaning people like Mer-Khamis,who are trying to promote understanding and tolerance between Jews and Arabs.

Mer-Khamis was shot dead on April 4, as he was leaving the Freedom Theater in the Jenin refugee camp, which was once described as the capital of Palestinian suicide bombers.

A lone assailant who waited for Mer-Khamis outside the theater opened fire at him from close range, killing him instantly.

The Palestinian Authority security forces say they have arrested a Hamas member in connection with the slaying. Hamas has denied responsibility, insisting that the prime suspect in the case is a member of Fatah’s armed wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Regardless of the identity or political affiliation of those behind the murder, the assassination of the actor and film producer, who was known as a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, will only harm the Palestinians themselves.

Mer-Khamis, who was born to a Jewish mother and a Christian Arab citizen of Israel, was trying to promote cultural activities in the refugee camp as an alternative to suicide bombings and other forms of terror.

In the past, Mer-Khamis received death threats from Palestinians who did not like his activities and mere presence in the refugee camp. The theater he managed was firebombed twice and leaflets distributed by Palestinian activists over the past few years made it clear that the victim would be liquidated one day.

Two years ago, the Palestinian Authority disbanded a youth orchestra from the same refugee camp after its members played for a group of Holocaust survivors in Israel.

The concert was held at the Holocaust Survivors’ Center in Israel as part of Good Deeds Day, an annual event organized by a group belonging to billionaire Shari Arison.

Fatah representatives in the camp called the Holocaust a «political issue» and accused conductor Wafa Younis, also an Israeli Arab citizen, of dragging the children into a political dispute.

Younis was barred from the refugee camp, and the apartment where she taught the 13-member Strings of Freedom orchestra was sealed.

Ramzi Fayyad, a spokesman for various political factions in the Jenin camp, condemned the participation of the children in the Holocaust event, saying all the groups were strongly opposed to any form of normalization with Israel.

Fatah activists in the camp also filed a complaint with the Palestinian Authority against Younis under the pretext that she had misled when she originally promised to take them on a trip to Israel.

Had the Palestinian Authority acted back then against those who threatened the woman and thrown her out of the refugee camp, it is possible that the murder of Mer-Khamis would have been prevented.

Moreover, such actions are likely to harm relations between Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel, most of whom support the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Thanks to the easing of Israeli security restrictions, thousands of Israeli Arabs converge every day on Palestinian cities for shopping and entertainment, remarkably boosting the economy in the West Bank. Many Israeli Arab families now no longer feel safe visiting the West Bank.

Once again, the Palestinians have scored an own goal, hurting only themselves.

Opprinnelig i Hudson New York: The Palestinians’ Own Goal

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Abu Khaled Toameh er israels-arabisk journalist og jobber i Jerusalem Post