Joel Mowbray

Documentary producer Jack Baxter was kicking around Israel in early 2003, and he decided to pass the time by shooting a breezy documentary on Mike?s Place, whose slogan is ?blues by the beach.?  Although literally adjoining the U.S. Embassy?bar patrons can see the embassy guard standing just a stone?s throw away?Mike?s Place had always billed itself as an oasis from the turmoil of the region.  The documentary was going to show the ?other? Israel.

After the memorial service, participants went inside the bar to watch new final edit of Baxter?s film, Blues by the Beach.  The film clearly moved those in attendance.  Some sat silently, others reached for the comforting touch of a friend or loved one, and more than a few wiped tears from their eyes.

By that evening, people were smiling, laughing, and singing gloriously out-of-key.  Mike?s Place family members were busy keeping the fun going through the night?but their passion and love for their creation is palpable.

Mike?s Place has fought back against the terrorists in the best way they know how, by pouring brews and slinging shots.  Within three months, the bar doubled in size with an ambitious expansion that has played off handsomely.

On the eve of the memorial service, Mike?s Place enjoyed its second-best ever weekend?behind only the previous month, when Irish fans descended upon Tel Aviv to support their soccer team.  When bartender and part-owner Downtown Dave was proudly explaining the booming business, a bar patron explained the obvious, ?Mike?s Place hasn?t just survived; it?s thrived.?

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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