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Photo: Gil Yohanan
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Jerusalem residents fight for right to Saturday movies

Jerusalem residents, activists rally against municipality agreement which states currently-in-construction Cinema City compound will be closed on Shabbat. ‘Logic says that we should win,’ one protester says. Deputy mayor says that's unlikely

Dozens of Jerusalem residents joined a protest at Safra Square on Saturday, calling on the municipality to open a new compound containing restaurants and a movie theater on Saturdays and holidays.

 

According to the agreement between the Finance Ministry, the property developer and the municipality, the Cinema City compound which is located at Jerusalem's International Convention Center parking lot and is scheduled to open in the coming months – will work only on weekdays.

 

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Residents and activists from various groups, including Awakening, Meretz and Be Free Israel, protested the decision, asking that the wishes of secular residents be taken into account. "For years we have lived in a city that refuses to recognize and accommodate our needs," said Eyal Ackerman, one of the rally's organizers. "This is a struggle for the right to live in this city and its future."

 

The organizers were disappointed that more people didn’t show up for the rally, but expressed hope and optimism. "It takes time for things to happen," said Tamar, a resident. "Logic says that we should win."


מחאה חילונית בירושלים, הערב (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

Making the secular voice heard (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

 

Another protestor who showed up at the square predicted, "The struggle will intensify when the complex will open. We will try to put pressure on the owner and tell him that if we do not come on Saturdays, we will not come in the middle of the week either."

 

On the other hand, David Hadari, Deputy Mayor and Chairman of the Finance Committee responsible for the decision of the Sabbath closing, said he believed that decision would remain unchanged.

 

"It's what suits the residents of this city while keeping the status-quo. It cannot be that in the center of the city, there will be cinemas violating the Sabbath," Hadari said. "That they can do in the distant neighborhoods. It cannot be carried out within 500 meters of Orthodox neighborhoods."


מחאת החילוניים בירושלים (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

Secular protestors want Saturday cinema (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

 

The decision not to allow the site to work Saturdays and holidays was made by the Jerusalem Municipality, the Ministry of Finance and Shapir, the company financing development. When the original parking lot originally slated for the location proved unprofitable, they were allowed to construct a cultural center which would be closed on the Sabbath.

 

This is according to a 2009 letter from the Finance Ministry. Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy clarified that his office would have no issue with the compound being open on Saturdays, "as long as there is compliance to the terms of the municipality."

 

On the other hand, the municipality said that "the entrepreneurs behind Cinema City signed an agreement with the Finance Ministry, and it was approved by the City Council. The municipality has no knowledge of any requests to change the terms of the agreement, and if the developers want to reopen the terms of the agreement, they should contact the Finance Ministry."

 

Shapir stated that the situation "is subject to an agreement which is signed and we have no statement, other than this."

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 05.04.13, 23:55
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