This Jerusalem Ice Cream Shop Reaps Profits During Netanyahu Protests


Meanwhile, the Mousseline staff is hurriedly preparing to open. A line is wrapped around the block, filled with protesters looking for a scoop of ice cream before the rally. The store has never had as much business as it has since the protests started.

In January, Netanyahu proposed reforms allowing Parliament to overturn Supreme Court rulings and weaken the country’s judicial system. Recent polling from the Israel Democracy Institute shows that roughly two-thirds of Israelis oppose the proposed reforms, with many believing that Israel’s future as a democracy is at stake. In the months since, protesters have rallied weekly in record numbers nationwide , making it the largest demonstration in Israel’s history. 

In Jerusalem, the protests have been taking place in front of the president’s residence — and in front of Mousseline. The boutique ice cream parlor offers patrons French-style ice cream and fresh fruit sorbets. Along with traditional dessert flavors, the boutique is known for its nuanced options; black sesame, wasabi, and chai masala are some of its standout specialties. 

During and after the demonstrations, protesters gather around the tiny store, some toting an ice cream cone in one hand and an Israeli flag in the other. 

Nenete, a Hebrew University student from Brazil, doesn’t mind recently chaotic shifts — he likes it when work keeps him busy. His co-workers don’t either, he said. 

“Their only complaints are having to work more on Saturday nights,” Nenete said.

When he’s not working, Nenete participates in the protests. Often, he’ll leave the demonstration to help his co-workers scoop ice cream if he sees them getting overwhelmed. 

On a recent Saturday, Nenete and a co-worker were busy preparing to open the shop as a crowd gathered in front of it. Operating during the demonstrations doesn’t worry them — it’s nearly always peaceful, Nenete said. The crowd is filled with families, small children and older people, all coming together to advocate for democracy. 

“It’s a really combined group of people,” said Nam, a young woman at the protest standing outside Mousseline. ”We already see the bad influence this government has on us, so this issue is across parties and across sectors in the Israeli community.”

According to the Israeli Democracy Institute, One out of five citizens of Israel have participated in protests in the past month, with well over half a million people present at a demonstration in Jerusalem on a recent Saturday.

 Although the influx of business has been positive for Mousseline, Nenete recalls a few occasions when he received backlash for serving protesters firsthand.

Nenete recalls cleaning the outdoor seating area on a Sunday morning after a demonstration when a couple approached him and accosted him and Mousseline for serving protesters. 

“They said to me while I cleaned, the left wing is dirty, aren’t they?” he said. 

But justice prevailed, Nenete said. The woman left a pair of gloves on one of the tables. 

”They were expensive, too,” he added. “So, I took them.”

Nenete continues to volunteer to work Saturday night shifts — feeding the demonstrators, in his eyes, is another way to support the movement.

When asked if he identified as a devout Jew, he hesitated.

“If I were asked this question in another place, like New York, I’d say 100%, and I’d say it proudly,” he said.

“But here, in Israel, I’m not sure I can say that anymore.”

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