Nashville Hotel Caves To Palestinian Activists, Shuts Down Pro-Israel Conference A Week Before Event

The Sonesta Nashville Airport Hotel is under scrutiny after canceling a planned pro-Israel summit, because of threats by Palestinian activists. The event, organized by Christian ministry HaYovel, was scheduled for May 20-22 and expected to attract approximately 500 attendees, with 400 having booked rooms at the hotel.

Speakers were set to include former U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Israeli journalist Caroline Glick, and a member of Israel’s Knesset.

Eight days before the start of the event, the hotel cancelled the event citing their contract’s force majeure clause. The actual event contact hasn’t been released to evaluate that, but the property said they had ‘security concerns’ given the threatening calls and messages they received from Palestinian activists. The event host argues that this is unlawful religious discrimination (in this case, against Christians) and that security measures in place for the event mitigated the perceived risks.

Palestine Hurra Collective Nashville called for people to inundate the hotel with calls for cancellation of the event because, they say, it supports “genocidal racists” (Israel).

There are two separate issues here.

  1. contractual obligations of the hotel and whether those are vitiated by a campaign of opposition
  2. what the ethical stance of a hotel ought to be regarding events held on its premises.

It seems like the worst possible outcome to offer a heckler’s veto – signaling that rather than punishing the making of threats, it’s an effective tool to silence speech with which you disagree.

Late Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson stood strongly that hotels shouldn’t make determinations about which points of view are expressed in their conference rooms, including for viewpoints that leaders of chains personally loathed.

When the Hilton Houston Post Oak cancelled an event with Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American congresswoman and member of ‘the squad’ known for her opposition to Israel, I lamented that decision. There, too, the hotel cited security and I would have much preferred to see the group offered the opportunity to fund sufficient security if, in the view of the hotel, hosting the conference would pose risks to employees, guests, or to its facilities.

Last year I wrote that Marriott was right to host an odious event that praised Hitler and called for the end of Jews. I kind of liked that a conference room at a Residence Inn only large enough for a few dozen people is where they were hosting that dreck.

My thinking is informed by the Supreme Court’s National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977) which held that a refusal to allow neo-Nazis to march wearing Nazi uniforms and displaying swastikas violated their first amendment rights.

The ACLU represented the Nazis, because free speech is only meaningful if you’re defending speech you detest. In response to the ruling, Holocaust survivors set up a museum along the planned march route to commemorate those who had died in concentration camps. They countered speech with speech.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The text “Call to Action” doesn’t actually contain any threats of violence, just a statement about withholding future business. That seems fair enough in itself. Of course, I don’t know the nature of threatening calls and messages that the hotel reportedly received. It’s entirely possible they go far beyond what is stated in that document.

  2. Nashville has been turned into a liberal cesspool by all of the coasties moving in primarily from California and New York. There are other areas outside of Davidson County that could handle the conference. There the police would deal with any of the terrorist sympathizers. I moved out years ago, seeing where the city was headed. When they allowed a BLM mob to go down the middle of Broadway, setting stuff on fire and looting stores and the police did nothing I knew it was lost.

  3. I doubt that the threats reach the level of force majeure. If there was an actual riot, it would then apply. Threats are usually properly handled by law enforcement. The lawsuits will be interesting.

  4. I would’ve canceled it because nut job Michelle Bachmann was attending.

    Former congresswoman Michele Bachmann calls on God to “smash the delusion, Father, that Joe Biden is our president. He is not.”

  5. What is the problem?? The State of Tennessee has become a cesspool of right wing politics—-this is no worse in comparison of all the legislation passed in the last 2 years. Voting rights losses, guns over common sense.
    Poor schools. This is just a hotel convention. Maybe it is time to go after right wing conventions In the State

  6. Without seeing the contract defining “force majeure”, off the top of my head it seems unlikely to apply. That generally means unforseeable events and/or events beyond control of the party – acts of God. The hotel could certainly see that some events have security concerns and/or take measures to deal with such concerns. Venues do this all the time and in fact, I’m sure they do due dilegence before taking on such a contract so they don’t lose money on security costs or they require the event promoter to provide for security.

    Considering this group is calling for the total elimination of Israel, that’s going to be some pretty bad optics for the hotel.

  7. I mean, they saw what these “peaceful” people do when you dare defy their propaganda. If I was a hotelier, I wouldn’t want Hamas sympathyzers on my crosshairs. They could anything from setting an encampment blocking the hotel to actually setting up bombs.
    Lawsuit will be interesting though LOL

  8. Doesn’t matter what they say–Palestinians are essentially anti-Semitic. Given police cover, they would hold Kristallnacht II tonight.

  9. What’s amazing is that left wing Jews like Gary Leff see all of the political violence and anti-semitism that comes from the Left, then vote Left. A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

  10. @Al
    Exactly how have they diminished voting rights? I vote in every election. Show up, show them my ID, sign a book and get a ticket to vote. Couldn’t be much simpler than that. As far as guns go, I really only carry one when I go into Nashville, considering the crime rate. But I keep a Prius under a tarp in my backyard with Hillary 2016 stickers on the back of it. I call it urban camouflage. Great for getting around Nashville.

  11. Have these self righteous Hamas symphasizers condemned Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli civilians for the last 20 years? Have they yet to condemn October 7th raping, murder, infanticide, and hostage taking? Have they condemned hamas using their own people as human shields, preventing them from leaving? Have they not figured out that Hamas’ count of civilian deaths actually includes all their fighters, and thus are overstated by at least 10x? Have they learned yet that Gaza hasn’t been occupied by Israel for 20 years, has been self governing, and their own people overwhelmingly voted in and continue to support Hamas terrorism?

    Yeah but Israel bad, Gaza good, somehow. Ok gen z, got it.

  12. Force majeure usually refers to an action by an independent external cause, usually governmental in nature, that completely prevents the parties from performing one or more aims of the contract. The party invoking the clause must have taken all reasonable steps to perform. An example is a zoning change that prevents construction of a project. I doubt if it applies here.

    As to @Ayan Hersi Ali , your remarks are hateful and wrong. There is no evidence that @Gary is Jewish. Nor is it Left vs Right. @Gary, from most of his posts, is a conservative, free-market capitalist. Indeed, most pro-Hamas activists are left-wing anarchists (in the sense that the legal rules are for everyone else), and many tend to cross the line into anti-semitic tropes.

  13. Last year there were hotels across the country that were canceling conferences and other events being held by Muslim Americans, and hotels sometimes used the excuse of “security” as a reason or even sometimes gave no honest explanation. In a bunch of those cases, some of the hotels that backed out of hosting the events had been hosting those events repeatedly over the years. I was opposed to such Islamophobc “cancel culture” by hotels, just as I am opposed to antisemitic or anti-Zionist “cancel culture”. by hotels. Unless an event organizer is involved in illegal activity in the place where the hotel is located or is inciting people to engage in or to otherwise support illegal violence, it can be problematic when hotels are canceling booked events or discriminating in booking acceptance/maintenace based on event organizer’s national origin, ethnic, religious or sexual identity affiliations.

  14. Ayan Hersi Ali the Fake hasn’t realized that our dear Señor Leff has long been more closely affiliated ideologically with the Republican Party and Republicans of the so-called libertarian sort than with the Democrats? Either way, to a right-wing fascist, anyone a tiny bit less hardline right-wing is a “leftist”.

  15. There aren’t First Amendment rights applicable to use of private property owned by others, and so unless the hotel is owned by a government entity in the country, the First Amendment isn’t really applicable in such circumstances. What may be applicable at times is the illegality of discrimination against individual in protected classes as long as the interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution is considered applicable for such situations and the “protected classes”.remain as they are today.

  16. Thank god the hotel realized they would be on the wrong side of history letting this collection of bloodthirsty genocidal freaks gather there. Kudos to the brave protestors for their courage in standing up for humanity and to anyone on this blog that made it through another one of these useless, fearmongering, off-topic garbage rants from Gary.

  17. @ Gary — This entire topic is going to lead the morons of our country to put Satan back in charge of our country. Can you please do a post on the best places to live in Mexico?

  18. If one supports free speech, does that mean one must support speech that calls for violence? You can’t do that and still call oneself a human. But a pro Israel summit that advocates for Israel against forces that are trying to destroy it certainly should be protected. As well as the right of folks who are advocating for Palestinians who are being brutalized by Israel’s govt. But you can’t support either view that are pushing for violence against the other. You just can’t.

  19. Tennessee, like many states, has deep divisions in the political composition of its cities. NY states looks very different upstate than in the City.
    Memphis and Nashville are ideological islands in a state that is one of the few that can reliably retain 2 Republican senators.
    This is not a reflection on TN but on the management of this hotel.

  20. Isn’t Michele Bachmann that married a gay guy for his Swiss citizenship to hide her ill-gotten grift and rented 20+ immigrant kids for the tax breaks? Seems to me she worships money more than she believes in any gods.

  21. Michelle Bachman, eh? I guess MTG had a prior commitment.

    While a little vitriolic, the call to action doesn’t threaten anyone. Sure, it’s in poor taste, but then again so is the now-cancelled gathering. How would a Saudi festival have gone over in November 2001 in the USA?

  22. It’s Michele Bachmann, the former Congresswoman who as a dean at Regent University has literally called for the end of Gaza with an elimination of it’s 2+ million Palestinians who were there at the time of her statement. She called for the ethnic cleansing or a genocide in the area and tried to justify it by saying the 2 million or so Palestinians there are “assassins”.

    The “journalist” anti-Muslim propagandist Glick is nearly as tasteless as Michele Bachman, but Glick tries to do it in a more polished way in public while letting the unvarnished truth of her like-minded desire come out when she thinks she’s in a “very safe space” and not going to be recorded for her most vile desires coming out of her mouth.

    Protesting against these misanthropic bigots doesn’t bother me at all. As long as the protesting is done lawfully.

  23. The Israel Guys podcast indicated that the event will go forward at another location. I hope they sue the heck out of Sonesta for breach of contract. Force Majure is meant to cover hurricanes and insurrection and not threats from unhinged islamo-fascists

  24. Where is the proof that any “Islamo-fascists” made illegal threats against the hotel for this event? Illegal threats are different than lawful protests.

    Lawfully protesting against an event hosting one or more persons who publicly and explicitly called for wiping out Gaza and its 2 million Palestinians libeled as “assassins” seems like something that should be protested by all decent people — regardless of whether or not a hotel cancels an event.

    Would you say that the “Muslim” events across America that were cancelled by hotels in the last several months were cancelled because of the threat of “Christo-fascists”, “Judeo-fascists”? If not, then when you see yourself in the mirror ask yourself if identity politics is an explanation for the inconsistency and if there is a failure so see all people as individuals to be treated with equal respect and dignity as all people.

  25. So Sonesta caves to anyone that makes a threat? What kind of weak and moronic company are they? This type of decision making is going to impact their bottom line, makes them undesirable.

  26. Marriott and Hilton hotels did this “cave” thing in the last several months too, but that was even for events the hotels had been repeatedly hosting over the years in a bunch of cases. Seems to me that Marriott and Hilton share prices and market capitalization are up a lot from the start of this ramped up post-October 7th “cancel culture” started hitting because of threats however loosely defined. Maybe it’s good for business to engage in “cancel culture”? The share prices would suggest it’s not negatively changing the dial in any significantly financial way.

  27. retired lawyer,
    Gary has written several times that he is a Jew. On the internet where people hide behind being anonymous, Gary has to be commended for standing up for who he is and for his people.

    you sound like you would make a great politician with your multiple contextually-dependent identities.

  28. It was really fun reading the comments on this post 🙂
    I can skip the late-night show tonight…

  29. Delta flies direct to Nashville from many cities, so if you’re looking for a premium air travel experience, you’re in luck.

  30. Democrats stopped supporting free speech at least 20 years ago. This is just another example of their Orwellian totalitarian nature. How ironic that they spout their nonsense about “democracy” when the reality is that democracy without free speech is not democracy. And therein lies the truth: Biden and his lunatic fringe don’t really want democracy; they want to censor any and all opposing viewpoints under the pretense of defending democracy. Don’t fall for their nonsense. Remember in November.

  31. Good. No one should be supporting 9 decades of Apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Doing the right thing should not be controversial or hard.

    And for all you murikan morons who havent looked at a book since kindergarten, Palestinians are Semites, by definition, and people too

  32. About the nutty former Congresswoman’s Swiss citizen husband and her own supposed Swiss citizenship previously, she seems to have claimed it was automatic for having a Swiss husband. Even for long-term spouses of Swiss citizens, Swiss citizenship doesn’t land on the foreign spouse unless the foreign spouse has applied for naturalization to be a Swiss citizen under the rules applicable for long-term spouses of Swiss citizens. After she got caught on that, she claimed she did it so her children could get Swiss passports. That too was a sign that she’s not to be trusted. It wouldn’t suprise me if she went for Swiss citizenship again after her supposed writing in to a Swiss consulate to surrender her Swiss citizenship.

  33. Will tell all Nashville visiting relatives and friends to avoid Sonesta like the plague.

  34. Gary. No point in these hot point topics. It’s not bringing out the best.

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