Arna Mer was born in 1929, in Rosh Pinna, at that time in Mandate Palestine. Mer's father was Gideon Mer, a scientist who pioneered the study of malaria during the British Mandate. Mer fought with the Palmach and Israel Defense Forces during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
Mer married Saliba Khamis, a Christian Arab and a prominent member of Maki and had three sons, Spartacus, Juliano (who adopted the name Juliano Mer-Khamis) and Abir. Juliano, an actor, filmmaker and peace activist who was murdered in 2011, directed the film Arna's Children about Mer's work with the Freedom Theatre.
Mer was an active member of the Communist party in Israel. During the First Intifada, as part of a project to support the education of children in the West Bank, she established the organisation In the Defence of Children under Occupation/Care and Learning, and later established the Freedom Theatre in Jenin refugee camp.
- "Arna Mer-Khamis". Arna-Active memorial site. June 2002. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
- Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis gunned down in Jenin Jerusalem Post, 4 April 2011
- Birenberg, Yoav (6 April 2011). "Juliano Mer's final curtain call". Ynetnews.
Many of the jolts and tribulations experienced by the three brothers stem from their childhood as the sons of an Arab intellectual father Saliba Khamis and a Jewish mother, Arna Mer, a relentless idealist who joined 'Maki' (the Israeli Communist Party).