Protesters Call for Jerusalem Cinema City to Open Friday Nights

Complex opens in Jerusalem and crowds gather to protest for 'social justice' and taste the popcorn.

The opening of Jerusalem’s new Cinema City movie theater complex Tuesday night looked like an event launching name brands before the social protest made such events unpopular. Outside was a protest in favor of opening the complex on Friday nights, and about 150 people shouting “the people demand social justice.” Throughout the protest, nobody mentioned the films that were being shown.

Like everyone else there last night, I came for the free food. I wait in line at a place called Zippora Express, but every time my turn comes, they skip me. I finally get two falafels with tahini. I decided to go up to the Bible Museum in protest, feeling like one of the prophets of doom, who had also been skipped over in line. The Bible Museum is very nice but empty because there’s no free food. Pharaoh looks like a handsome guy, Jepthah’s daughter is a hottie. I consider a selfie with Samson, but can’t get beyond the transparent barrier.

I continue to Smurf City, with its blue figures standing outside in the freezing cold. They have a view of the Supreme Court, that Israeli architectural creation symbolizing justice seeing the light, which looks sorry and shrunken next to the glittering mall. And perhaps that’s as it should be, with justice hidden in the face of the assault by capitalism, in the form of the grandiose theater, an appropriate representation of reality here.

I look away from the Supreme Court building and see a kitchen at the butt end that I hadn’t noticed before. Maybe it is the one that produced the caramelized mushroom served earlier by roving waitresses. It’s hard to see the workers in the kitchen, but they certainly must be more Arab and darker than the people out front.

Near the Bible Museum downstairs I see that a few girls are leaving. One of them sits down for a selfie on the horn of a giant rhinoceros statue that protrudes from between her legs. She tells me she’s one of the employees of the architectural firm that built the complex. I ask her what she thinks about the fact that the building didn’t take the Supreme Court into consideration. “We have an opinion but we’ll keep it to ourselves,” they respond diplomatically.

I go down to the movie level, with 24 popcorn sellers waiting for the audience that hasn’t come down yet. It turns out the escalator doesn’t go up. I’m worried I’ll be stuck down there forever, until I spot an elevator.

The speeches start. “This is a unique product, magnificent, no doubt the most beautiful movie theater in Israel,” Mayor Nir Barkat is saying. Cinema City owner Leon Edry thanks everyone excitedly, including a guy named Stas who was responsible for the stainless steel fixtures. Culture and Sports Minister Limor Linvat chats throughout with Barkat.

Outside a single protester is left, Ben Mukhtar, 14, from Ramot. “Everybody went home. If they had wanted to fight they would have all stayed. I’m tired of wandering the streets on Friday nights. The Haredim don’t even care that it’s open on Shabbat. Show me even one Haredi who watches ‘The Fast and the Furious,’” he says.

Olivier Fitoussi