Pro-Palestinian signage in cinemas in central Sunnyside, Jewish residents cry foul
June 7, 2021 By Christian Murray
About two weeks ago, activists posted a controversial message on the marquee sign at the closed Sunnyside cinema and the owner of the property is under fire from many Jewish residents.
John Ciafone, the owner of the vacant cinema at 42-17 Queens Blvd., has been bombarded with emails and phone calls in recent days from people protesting the “River to Sea” message that is on the cinema marquee.
The message has been on the theater board since thousands of people came to Sunnyside for a pro-Palestinian rally, residents say. Many chanted during the rally “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.
“A lot of people are very upset,” said Ciafone, who was unaware the message was there until he was contacted recently. “Many people from the Jewish community contacted me. I have received emails and phone calls about this.
The message is a common rallying cry from members of the pro-Palestinian movement, although many pro-Israel supporters say it is a call for the destruction of the Jewish state and the erasure of its people. They say the message is widely used by Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
“I didn’t know anything about it until people contacted me,” Ciafone said. “These people weren’t allowed to do that. I heard it was very offensive.
Ciafone said he called someone to come out and take the message. He will review the video, he said, and apologized for it being up there.
This is not the first time that the Ciafone brand has been targeted.
In January, Ciafone was the subject of the post.
Ciafone, who said he was very offended by the January post, has owned the property since 2012 and plans to develop it. His desire to develop the site led to the controversial closure of the cinema in 2015. The site remains underdeveloped.
Ciafone was upset that his signaling was being targeted again.
“It is the result of a gang of progressive, anti-development radicals,” he said. “These are the people who also hate the police.”