Tel Aviv’s solution to terror: Free Beer!

“It is funny, but I think we are fighting: for our way of life, and not letting them win,” one pub manager says

Revelers at a bar (photo credit: KFIR SIVAN)
Revelers at a bar
(photo credit: KFIR SIVAN)
Abraham Lincoln’s oft-cited quote that people “can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts and beer” may be apocryphal, but it rang true in Tel Aviv Monday night.
At the behest of the municipality, some 20 bars on Dizengoff street offered patrons a buy-one-get-one-free deal to encourage Israelis to get back to their routines in the aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting attack.
“The terrorists want people to be afraid, so the weapon that citizens have against terrorism is to continue our daily lives,” said Anna, a 35-yearold Italian immigrant sipping a beer on Dizengoff square.
Her friend Cosima had mixed feeling about whether or not the event was useful, but admitted that it had spurred her to leave the house.
“I was conflicted, but it did cause me to think about coming out, and I invited all my friends,” she said.
For bar-owners, many of whom have seen a drop in customers in the days following the attack, signing on was a no-brainer. But many said they were participating out of solidarity rather than a sense that the deal would help attract customers.
“When they called I said it’s a nice idea, and we’ll do it of course. But I don’t think you need to tell people by force to go back to the street,” said Omri Rosengart, co-owner of the bar Concierge. “My opinion is that it sounds great, but I think that people need to decide for themselves.
Beer Garden manager Idan Malul found the idea of fighting terrorism with drinking equally amusing and legitimate.
“It is funny, but I think we are fighting: for our way of life, and not letting them win,” he said.
When The Jerusalem Post asked patrons why they had turned out, many said they hadn’t heard about it.
“We were going to drink anyway. But we’ll take a 1+1!” said Stacey Tohar, 25, an American tourist. Her friend, Ariella Raviv, however, expressed doubt that discounts would be the deciding factor for people still alarmed at the situation, especially with the shooter still at large.
“If I were scared I wouldn’t come out for a 1+1,” she noted.
Kerstin Hauser, a Swiss tourist, concurred. “It doesn’t matter for me. I’m not scared,” she said.
Even if only a small swath of people turn out as a result of the event, the municipality said it was a useful method of changing the tone.
“Definitely in a time of crisis we feel that we have a great role in making sure that life gets back to normal as soon as possible,” said Mira Marcus, the municipality’s international press director. “I think if tomorrow morning people wake up and see on their favorite news website a picture of people having a drink in the non-stop city and going back to their normal life, it will be very encouraging and reassuring.”
Beyond good messaging however, some see the process of people returning to Tel Aviv’s nightlife as an important step for dealing with traumatic events.
“After you sit and watch television and see terrorism and death, there’s a certain point when someone calls you and says, ‘Hey let’s go have a beer.’ I’d love to see people here today because this is our part, to show people a nice time and help them forget about it,” said Rosengart.