Papa can preach! Israeli LGBTQ+ icon Eliad Cohen brings his party to London

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Papa can preach! Israeli LGBTQ+ icon Eliad Cohen brings his party to London

Miami property magnate is the brains and brawn behind PAPA PARTY, one of the most well-respected event and marketing brands in the world

  • Pic: Eliad Cohen
    Pic: Eliad Cohen
  • Pic: Eliad Cohen, Instagram
    Pic: Eliad Cohen, Instagram
  • Pic: Eliad Cohen, Instagram
    Pic: Eliad Cohen, Instagram
  • Pic: Eliad Cohen
    Pic: Eliad Cohen

You name it, Eliad Cohen has likely done it. 

Aged 35, the Israeli businessman has modelled, launched a menswear collection, carved out a role in the international property market and hosted parties worldwide.

But Cohen, who has more than 1.4 million Instagram followers, has also been recognised as a pro-Israel campaigner, acknowledging the protection the Jewish state gives the LGBTQ+ community.

So much so that next month Cohen will be in London, co-hosting the Papa Party one-night event in Charing Cross, to celebrate Israel turning 75.

Bringing DJs and dancers together, the event is set to “celebrate 75 years of freedom to love who you want to love and be who you want to be”.

Pic: Eliad Cohen

For Cohen, who is gay, there is no greater freedom than that.

“Israel is the only country in the Middle East where it is okay to be gay,” says Cohen, who is expecting 1,400 people to attend the event. “Tel Aviv is one of the most open-minded cities in the world; people accept you for who you are. You can walk around and kiss your partner in the street, and it feels fine and safe.”

He adds: “It is very important to celebrate the diversity and achievements of Israel. We are coming to London with energy and attitude, I will be on the dance floor with everyone. People come to dance, forget their problems and celebrate love.”

Cohen admits that he is often stumped when he finds LGBTQ+ groups condemning his home country. “It is so confusing to me, but I think people are misinformed,” says Cohen, who first came across anti-Israel activism while living in Madrid a decade ago. “I used to get emotional and take it personally, but then I would turn on the news and only see one side of the story. That is why when I meet anti-Israel people, I take the time to talk to them.”

Cohen practises what he preaches, taking high-profile figures to see the lesser told side of Israel’s story. Last month, he travelled across the country, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea with Welsh award-winning actor Luke Evans, who has starred in films from Beauty & The Beast to The Hobbit and The Girl on the Train. Having met through mutual friends, he said the trip – which was shared on social media – was a long time in the planning, and they were especially moved by a visit to Holocaust memorial centre, Yad Vashem.

Now living in Miami, from where he runs his Eliad Cohen Group property company, he says: “I don’t think that I work that much, because I do everything with love and passion.”

“We saw the markets in Tel Aviv, had Shabbat dinner at a friend’s house and we went to Jerusalem, which was very emotional and spiritual. Luke fell in love with the country and the culture, which made me so happy.”

Cohen adds: “I want people to know about Israel through their own eyes, not the news.”

Born in the city of Akko to parents of Egyptian and Tunisian heritage, Cohen served in an elite combat unit based on Mount Hermon on the Israel-Lebanon border. It was whilst serving in the IDF, that he had his first experience with another man, coming out to his family aged 21.

Before that, he had a girlfriend for two years and envisaged a life as a businessman with a wife and children. “You can have visions about how things will be, but life does not always go as expected. It is important to go with the flow and embrace it.”

After leaving the army, Cohen worked as a barman and personal trainer in Tel Aviv. He helped one client lose 40kg, and in turn, was given a keepsake gold Chai necklace that he never takes off – even wearing it whilst modelling for the cover of the Spartacus international gay travel guide in 2011, which significantly boosted his profile.

Now living in Miami, from where he runs his Eliad Cohen Group property company, he says: “I don’t think that I work that much, because I do everything with love and passion.”

We speak on the morning of his 35th birthday, where he has started the day at 6:30am, with a walk by the beach by his home to “recharge my batteries”, followed by a coffee and a spinach-laden green juice. “Whatever I do, I do from my heart,” says Cohen, who set up Papa Party and since 2012 has toured 33 countries. “I do things that I have a passion for. I do real estate, but I can’t be in an office all day, so I combine it with the parties and music.

“A ‘combined passion’, that is the secret to staying happy and balanced.”

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