Reporter's Notebook: The day the ice melted

Broken generator at Jerusalem Ice City brings together Jews and Arabs, ultra-Orthodox and ultra-secular, sabras, immigrants and tourists.

April 10, 2012 01:17
1 minute read.
Disgruntled festival goers outside Ice City

Disgruntled festival goers stand outside Ice City370 . (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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Seven American presidents, leaders of most European countries and many United Nations envoys have tried unsuccessfully to bring about Middle East peace.

But Monday all it took was one broken generator in Jerusalem to bring together Jews and Arabs, ultra-Orthodox and ultra-secular, sabras, immigrants and tourists.

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The generator that made the ice melt – literally – caused the temporary closure of the Jerusalem Ice City, Mayor Nir Barkat’s pride and joy that dozens of Chinese artists built alongside the capital’s old train station.

The technical glitch came without warning around 4 p.m., leaving people who came to Jerusalem from across the country holding useless tickets for set entrance times. The children who broke out in tears would have looked pitiful even if they were not wearing coats, hats and scarves in the hot Jerusalem sun.

Their parents took out their anger on Bimot, the company that sold the tickets and did not contact the people who bought them, who wasted a day coming to the capital in a seemingly endless traffic jam.

Bimot representatives offered a choice of refunds or promises that their ticket could be used next week. But by then, most people will be back at work and school from this week’s holiday.

Even after many choice epithets were uttered at them in multiple languages, Bimot officials adamantly refused to allow ticket holders to come back later this week or to let disgruntled customers have their refund and their ticket too. And they certainly were unwilling to pay for babysitters or expensive sandals that parents who had to take their sad kids elsewhere bought at the Mamilla mall.

Four hours after the glitch began, the Ice City’s generator was working again.

No Chinese artists had to return to Jerusalem. People who showed up for their scheduled entrance at 8 p.m.

had no idea about what happened hours earlier. For them, everything was cool – literally.

The only people still confused were the operators of Jerusalem’s city information hotline, who at 10 p.m. were still telling people the Ice City was closed and may not open on Tuesday.

That uncertainty, despite cold hard evidence, was fitting in Jerusalem on the day the ice melted.

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