Hotel apologizes after canceling pro-Israel Christian conference over security concerns

A Tennessee hotel that canceled a pro-Israel Christian event amid reported threats has reached a settlement with the group behind the meeting as it moved the event to a different location.

Sonesta Nashville Airport Hotel told HaYovel, Inc. last week that it had canceled an event planned for May 20-22, reportedly due to threats the venue had received before the meeting.

In response, the conservative legal organization First Liberty Institute sent a letter of complaint to Sonesta on behalf of HaYovel, demanding that the hotel reverse its decision to cancel the summit.

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In joint press release On Friday, Sonesta and HaYovel announced an agreement in which the hotel apologized for its actions. HaYovel announced that it moved the event to Ramsey Solutions, still planned for May 20-22.

“The safety and well-being of Sonesta's team and guests is its top priority,” the statement said. “While Sonesta has determined that it was unable to host the HaYovel event due to safety concerns, Sonesta sincerely apologizes for the difficulty this decision has caused HaYovel and its Nashville event attendees.”

The two parties say they are “committed to helping affected event attendees process reimbursements for relevant expenses.”

“Sonesta and HaYovel are pleased to have quickly and amicably reached a resolution regarding the cancellation of a recent event that was scheduled to be held at the Sonesta Nashville Airport,” the parties stated.

“Sonesta respects all humanitarian aid and advocacy groups in their efforts on behalf of people of all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds. HaYovel appreciates Sonesta's willingness to resolve this situation quickly and to the full satisfaction of the organization.”

Founded in 2004, HaYovel is a self-identified “Christian Zionist” volunteer organization that sends Christians to Israel to help plant trees, work in vineyards and tour the country.

“We bring Christians to Israel to serve the land and people, enabling them to connect to the land of their faith, restore Christian-Jewish relations and confirm Israel's right to its ancestral homeland,” the group says of its website

“After serving in Israel, volunteers return to their homes with a renewed sense of purpose, strengthened faith and zeal for God's global plan of restoration that began with Abraham.”

Last month, the group promoted “The Israel Summit”, which featured several speakers, including former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Israeli Knesset member Ohad Tal, National Religious Broadcasters President Troy Miller and Israeli musician Yair Levi.

However, Sonesta canceled the summit, citing concerns about the security of their facility amid threats when they informed the Christian organization.

FLI sent a a letter to Sonesta, arguing that the cancellation “violates the terms of the contract between the Sonesta and HaYovel executed on January 31, 2024 … and is unlawful religious discrimination in a place of public accommodation in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

“HaYovel respectfully requests that you fulfill your contractual obligations as agreed and provide HaYovel with express written assurance that you will do so,” the letter reads.

“Failure to provide the written statement and perform the Contract may result in legal action against the Sonesta and all other responsible parties.”

FLI Executive General Counsel Hiram Sasser told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that he believed Sonesta was “violating federal and state law and they should correct this violation and stop their discrimination against people of faith.”

“Federal law and state law do not allow anyone to cancel an event based on the religious beliefs of the people holding the event and the law certainly prohibits the hotel from adopting the position of the anti-Semitic agitators heckling anyone who supports Israel,” he added.

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