Israeli Theater Wants To Screen 'The Passion of The Christ'

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - One Israeli theatre has expressed interest in screening Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."

The Tel Aviv Cinemateque said on Thursday it believes everyone has the right to make his own choice about the film, regardless of religion.

Until now, no Israeli distributors have expressed an interest in screening the film and some Knesset members discussed the possibility of trying to ban the film here. The movie, which has been a major box-office hit in the U.S. and around the world, depicts the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus in graphic and bloody detail.

Jewish groups and some others argued that the film could promote anti-Semitism. But many Israelis have expressed curiosity about the film.

"According to the amount of calls [we are getting] from Israelis we can [fill] the theatre," said a theater spokeswoman who identified herself only as Rachel.

The theatre seats 377, she said. The screening would be followed by a discussion, which she said would be the "main issue."

No date has been set for showing the film yet, but it would not take place for several months, Rachel said. The theater has not received any complaints about showing the film, she added.

Pirate copies of the film have been circulating in Jerusalem. Around the Easter holiday, there were nightly private showings at eastern Jerusalem hotels, where most of the Christian Arab population lives.