People react in different ways to the mention of Jenin City and the Freedom Theatre. Israelis often raise eyebrows; Palestinians and Arab-Israelis raise eyebrows but smile as well. All know, mention, and have an opinion about the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, the theatre's founding director. A teacher from Colorado on a Fulbright scholarship for a project on teaching about Palestinian and Israeli identity through the arts, I recently found true hospitality, enthusiasm and engagement on a visit to the Freedom Theatre. It houses an international and local arts community committed to developing Mer Khamis’ version of the "third intifada", which he described as needing to be "cultural; with poetry, music, theatre, cameras and magazines". I witnessed staff members experimenting with equipment needed for training actors; young actors and artists wanting to share their craft, whether rapping directing or acting; a facility with a beautiful exterior and an expanding interior; and a welcome disproportionate to who I was (a Colorado school teacher).
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.