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

Skyline of Nashville, Tennessee, taken from east bank of Cumberland River, is seen in this file photo.
Skyline of Nashville, Tennessee, taken from east bank of Cumberland River, is seen in this file photo. | Public Domain/Kaldari

A Tennessee hotel that canceled a pro-Israel Christian event amid reported threats has reached an agreement with the group behind the gathering as it has moved the event to a different venue.

Sonesta Nashville Airport Hotel told HaYovel, Inc. last week that it canceled an event slated for May 20-22, reportedly due to threats that the venue received in advance of the gathering.

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

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

"The safety and wellbeing of Sonesta's team and guests is its top priority," the statement reads. "While Sonesta determined it was unable to host the HaYovel event due to security concerns, Sonesta sincerely apologizes for the difficulty that this decision has caused HaYovel and its Nashville event attendees."

The two parties say they "are committed to assist impacted event attendees to process refunds 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 to be hosted 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 swiftly and to the organization's full satisfaction."

Founded in 2004, HaYovel is a self-identified "Christian Zionist" volunteer organization that sends Christians to Israel to help plant trees, work at 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 their ancestral homeland," the group says on its website.

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

Last month, the group promoted "The Israel Summit," which featured multiple 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 safety of their facility amid threats when they notified the Christian organization.

FLI sent a letter to Sonesta, arguing that the cancelation "violates the terms of the contract between the Sonesta and HaYovel executed 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 you fulfill your contractual obligations as agreed and provide HaYovel express written affirmation that you will do so," reads the letter.

"Failure to provide the written affirmation and fulfill 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 "in violation of 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 antisemitic agitators heckling anyone who supports Israel," he added.

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