At a Tel Aviv Bar's Election Party, the Table Is Divided Between Red and Blue

The real U.S. elections bash in Israel happens at Mike's Place, where Republican and Democrat ex-pats kick back a few beers in sorrow or celebration.

While election watchers at the Dan Panorama hotel in Tel Aviv rubbed shoulders with U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro and snapped photos with an Uncle Sam impersonator, the real party was down the street at Mike’s Place. That’s where young Americans packed in to track the results on TV—and to knock back a few beers in celebration or sorrow.

A group of six American women, all master’s students in political science at Tel Aviv University, had claimed a table on the bar’s patio. The table, like the American population, was sharply divided between the two candidates, with the supporters of Mitt Romney on one side and the supporters of President Barack Obama on the other.

“They have this lovely karaoke night going on, so it’s a little hard to hear what’s happening in the States,” said Aliza Goldsmith, 22, an Obama fan from Los Angeles.

Across from her sat Emily Schrader, 21, who wore her alma mater’s College Republicans t-shirt and who said she had voted for Romney weeks ago by absentee ballot.

“I got up at 3 A.M. to watch every single debate, so this is pretty important to me,” she said. (In a follow-up phone call this morning, Schrader could not hide her disappointment in President Obama’s re-election. “Hopefully he can work with the Republicans to address our serious financial issues,” she said.)

Watching a live feed of CNN, the young women let out cheers whenever a state was called for their respective candidates. “It went red, and then it went blue, and now we don’t know!” someone shouted about Illinois. This continued until 3:30 AM, when the women headed back to their apartments to nap before class.

For Melissa Shamooilian, celebrating the U.S. presidential election at Mike’s Place has become something of a tradition. The 22-year-old was studying in Israel and sat at the same bar in November 2008 when Obama won his first term as president.

“I feel like I’m still connected to home because I can watch everything live,” said Shamooilian, one of three Los Angeles natives at the table. “This election is pretty significant; there’s time for sleep afterward.”