Politicians throw back beers at Tel Aviv nightclub

Kadima, Likud MKs stay in the safety of the VIP section, while Bennett announces his love for secular Tel Avivians.

Politicians campaign at Tel Aviv nightclub 370 (photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Politicians campaign at Tel Aviv nightclub 370
(photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
In a Tel Aviv club, sweaty young people danced close to one another under flashing lights, as the latest Rihanna hit boomed out of speakers.
As midnight neared on Wednesday, a bald man with a toothy grin took the DJ stand and announced: “This is a party of love!” No, not that kind of love.
The smiling man with the microphone was wearing a kippa, and the party of love he was talking about was Bayit Yehudi.
Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett stopped by the “Party of Parties” – an event organized for the Tel Aviv international community, mostly immigrants to Israel from the US and Western Europe, to knock back a few beers with politicians at the Wonderland club in Tel Aviv.
The Wonderland was clearly preparing for New Year’s Eve, with giant papier-mâché “2013” signs. The usual disco lights and decorations were joined by posters for political parties – Likud Beytenu, Labor, The Tzipi Livni Party, Bayit Yehudi, Meretz and Am Shalem.
Click for full JPost coverage
Click for full JPost coverage
Balloons stuck to the ceiling with logos of seven parties, prompting one reveler to joke: “That would be the ultimate national unity government.”
Bumper stickers and fliers were spread out on the bars.
The Calcala party, founded by two American brothers from Ashkelon and now led by Kadima MK Yulia Shamalov Berkovich, was the first to arrive and the last among the politicians to leave.
“This is a good place for young men and women to meet,” Shamalov Berkovich said conspiratorially. “A lot of couples I’ve introduced are now married.”
The Calcala leader, a Kadima MK who ran, unsuccessfully, in last month’s Likud primary, expressed certainty that her party would make it into the next Knesset, citing an internal poll giving it four seats.
She flagged down photographers in hopes of getting her picture in the paper.
Later in the night, venture capitalist Erel Margalit, who is No. 10 on the Labor list for the next Knesset, appeared and ordered a beer.
He sat in the VIP section, where he was joined by Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen and Shamalov Berkovich.
They struggled to hear one another over the thumping bass, smiling politely and sipping their drinks.
Then the Kadima team walked in. Party leader Shaul Mofaz canceled at the last minute, and instead the list’s boyish, blue-eyed duo sauntered in. MK Yohanan Plesner sported a leather jacket and a big smile, while MK Yuval Zellner stayed close behind, in a blazer and jeans.
“I go to a lot of these events, and they’re great, but I look so young that people often just think that I’m just another partier,” Zellner, who is 34 years old, explained apologetically.
“I try to stay near Yohanan so people connect the dots.”
Plesner is the more recognizable of the duo, since his photo was on the front pages of nearly every newspaper when his eponymous committee tried to replace the “Tal Law” while Kadima was in the coalition. Zellner became an MK in May, when Tzipi Livni resigned from the party, and is probably best known for marrying Dafna Shahar of reality TV show The Real Housewives of Israel.
After an hour in the safety of the VIP section, the MKs and candidates left the club, shaking hands as they made their way out.
The party raged on and the club filled up with young people – including Dan Shapira, who portrayed the villain on the popular stoner-mystery TV show Asfur, and members of the dance-pop band Terry Poison, who played a set.
Shortly after 11 p.m., the DJ announced that Bennett had arrived. A throng crowded around him as he slowly made a lap around the venue without stopping to grab a beer, but taking photos with whoever asked.
At one point, a drag queen on stilts dressed as the Queen of Hearts, complete with playing-card sidekicks, bent over to give the national-religious party leader a hug, which he barely escaped.
“Bayit Yehudi is a party of love for religious and secular people, people from Tel Aviv and Kiryat Shmona and Beersheba,” Bennett announced amid applause and cheering.
“We love the Land of Israel and the IDF! Enjoy the party!” With that, he slowly made his way out of the noisy, smoke-filled room, and the young Tel Avivians continued to dance to the music.